Even fake coins are collectible.
A Good Very Fine example of a 19th-century fake coin, created by
Carl Wilhelm Becker, realized $1,092.50, including the 15 percent
buyer’s fee, in Classical Numismatic Group’s online auction closing
The piece replicates a famous silver decadrachm of ancient coin
engraver Kimon and realized a price more than double its $500 pre-sale estimate.
The replica mimics a circa 405 to 367 B.C. silver coin from
Syracuse, in Sicily, issued under Dionysios I. The obverse depicts a
charioteer driving a fast quadriga, holding reins. Nike flies above,
crowning the charioteer. Arethusa is surrounded by four dolphins on
The 39.5-gram “coin” was made by one of the most prolific and
accomplished counterfeiters of the 19th century.
Becker was making fake coins and other antiquities as early as 1806,
apparently as a sideline to a trade in genuine antiquities. His buyers
were the wealthy princes of Europe, who filled their cabinets with his work.
George F. Hill explored the 360 or so examples of fake Greek coins
created by Becker in Becker the Counterfeiter, published in 1924.
“Some of his efforts are of course wide of the mark, but others are
as near to the original as anything that his successors have
produced,” Hill wrote.
Although Becker was periodically accused of forgery, he defended
himself by claiming his productions were “instructive” in nature and
never sold with the intent to deceive. Notes found in his diary after
his death suggest this was not quite true, and Hill provides multiple
instances where examples were sold through third parties at or near
the full prices of genuine articles.
Becker was recently the subject of a Coin World story
exploring a range of fake coins that are collectible today.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT BECKER.
To learn more about the auction, visit the Classical Numismatic