ACTA ACCLA, November 2006


Dean Ruby

"Classical Deceptions", Wayne G. Sayles. 2001, Krause Publications, about $20

Book cover for Classical Deception by Wayne Sayles
A very good overview of the subject, albeit somewhat pessimistic.

More recent than most other publications and includes much recent information on Slavey, Rosa, etc.

"Christodoulus the Counterfeiter", J. N. Svoronos, 1922, Sanford J. Durst has latest reprint, about $40

Christodoulus was a very prolific if not perfect copier. Five of his “coins” for example were in the Wilkinson collection, Malter 49. Plates are from plaster casts from actual dies - no ambiguities here.

Little information except to identify each coin and the plates are of poor quality, but still this is arguably the most important single counterfeit reference. There are pictures of 557 obverse or reverse dies.

The Christodoulus coins pictured in Svoronos, are definitely collectible. The five in Wilkinson were auctioned off as fakes and sold at from 33% to 120% of the estimated price for a genuine coin.

"The Caprara Forgeries", Philip Kinns, 1984, London and Basel, about $40

Caprara was an early counterfeiter and very skilled. One of his products not only made it to the Wilkinson catalogue, but also had been in the Pozzi and Lockett collections. Only 91 coins are listed but there is much more detailed information on each than the other references and the book and plates are very well done. However, I would recommend some caution here. While it may be the wording, it seems Kinns overstates the case against at least one coin - coin 35 - a drachm from Olympus. Using this reference might also require some skill as Caprara, unlike some others, made near perfect copies.

Caprara fakes are also collectibles.

"Becker the Counterfeiter", George F Hill, 1924, Obol. Probably about $40 to $50 these days.

Certainly the most fun to read of any of these references on counterfeits as Hill goes through Becker's life with its trials and tribulations. More is known about Becker than the other older counterfeiters and this sometimes seems more like a biography than a reference work. Becker was a natural born die engraver of such overconfidence that he would attempt dies based only on sketches or descriptions and even offered to sell his dies to the Austrian emperors coin cabinet. He was not above inventing his own designs and I would imagine some of his fantasies would fetch a pretty penny on the market today if they could be found.

Despite being such a fun read, this reference is not as useful as the previous three for a couple of reasons. The Greek coins pictured almost never show up. While the plates are of good quality, there is little cross-referencing to the text.

But Becker's counterfeits are eminently collectable, and while I have never seen one of his Greek “coins” ever sold, I would not be surprised to see some of them go for prices comparable to genuine coins. Some of his choicest fantasies, if ever auctioned, would probably be out of sight for the average collector.

"Numismatique Grecque Falsifications, Moyens pour les Reconnaitre", Oscar Ravel, 1933, reprinted 1980, Obol, now about $40.

Looks like a fine book by an internationally known expert on Greek coins. It is all in French and I am unaware of any English translation.

"International Bureau for the Suppression of Counterfeit Coins", bulletin was issued twice yearly by the International Association of Professional Numismatists but has been discontinued.

A truly great source, especially of some of the more recent forgeries. Publications like these, which all dealers have, significantly reduce the chances of forgeries slipping though.

"Ancient Coin Reference Reviews", Dennis Kroh, 1993, C & S Press, about $40

Has 18 abstracts of the most important references on ancient forgeries.

In general a very basic addition to any ancient coin collector's library.

"Ancient Greek Numismatics", William Daehn, Davissons Ltd. 2001, about $80-$100.

This recent and very worthwhile publication lists all English language articles and books on Greek coins known to the author at the time of publication. Has 50 citations on forgeries.

Example Counterfeit Ancient Coins

Trajan/Republican Mule
Dean Ruby is a long time member of the Ancient Coin Club of Los Angeles.


ACTA ACCLA edited by Michael J. Connor.