Editor's note: The following is the fourth of a multi-part Coin
World series about the market for ancient coin fakes and
forgeries prepared by Jeff Starck for the December 2014 monthly
edition of Coin World.
New York artist Peter Rosa was a modern-day Carl Wilhelm Becker,
without the malicious intent.
In 1955, Rosa launched Becker Manufacturing Co. (named for the
infamous forger), to offer reproductions of coins. His first offering
of 36 “coins” was almost wholly based on Becker’s earlier issues.
Read other posts in this series:
By the late 1960s, Rosa had some 568 different replicas available,
according to Wayne Sayles, writing in Classical Deception:
Counterfeits, Forgeries and Reproductions of Ancient Coins, with
reported sales of some 200,000 pieces per year to customers in 47 countries.
In 1978, he told the American Numismatic Association that he had
dies for some 700 pieces, and he continued making dies (and replicas)
until his Oct. 5, 1990, death.
Though he took inspiration — and designs — from Becker, Rosa was not
intentionally deceptive about his reproductions, continuously claiming
that the reason he made replicas was to provide ancient art to those
collectors of modest means.
“As far as we know, he never sold — either personally or through
agents — any reproduction under the guise of authenticity,” Sayles
wrote. “All of his prototypes came from well published museum
collections — and were advertised as such.”
He did not, however, mark all of this pieces. Early on his “coins”
were marked with any number of devices, including COPY, the Becker
number (as cataloged by Hill) or the British Museum catalog number.
The abundance of Rosa reproductions was one apparent though minor
cause for the Hobby Protection Act of 1973, which required the word
COPY be placed “plainly and permanently” on numismatic reproductions.
After the passage of this law, hobby publishers rejected Rosa’s
advertisements, even though the pieces (which included uniface
replicas) were plainly labeled as reproductions, according to Sayles.
In response, he stopped marking pieces as reproductions. Rosa was,
however, an advocate of certification services and, as Sayles
documents, disseminated information about his works to museums and
others so the marketplace was informed and aware of them.
This activity was borne from a deep admiration for ancient coin art.
In a letter to Sayles, Rosa said, “I love my work — I feel I’m doing
the same thing as the ancient Romans who reproduced Greek statues for
propagation of same.”
Numerous dies used to strike the pieces, as well as some of the
reproductions themselves, are in the collection of the American
In recent years, Rosa’s nephew, Charles Doyle, has been casting
reproductions of ancient and early American coins, in some instances
using molds Rose fabricated based on impressions of original coins.
Doyle, who apprenticed while a youth under his uncle’s tutelage,
opened Coin Replicas Inc. (www.coinreplicas.com) in Putnam, N.Y. All
of the replicas Doyle offers bear the word COPY as required.
Doyle told Coin World in 2010 that he’s trying to carry on
the legacy his uncle established as one of the most skilled coin
reproductionists of the 20th century.
The Doyle reproductions are available for as little as $3 a coin
(for a set of “30 pieces of silver”), with most other pieces costing
$20 or less.
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