A convincing ancient counterfeit of a Roman Republican silver denarius. It was struck in silver-plated copper, instead of the pure silver of its prototype (struck 134 BC by C. Abvrius [Crawford 244]). Only the break at 4:00 on the reverse exposes the copper core of this fourrée.
Comments, gentle criticisms, and questions are welcome. Links may open in new windows.This page stays open in one window, pages linked to this page open in a second window, and englargements of images open in a third window. If you click and nothing seems to happen, look in another window that is already open underneath!
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New, March 24, 2012: Thumbnails replaced with large
images on pages of imitations of Gordian
Nov. 30. On the reference page, a link to a pdf of the new "Survey of Numismatic Research 1997-2002" article.
Nov. 11, 2010. A high-grade Theodosius II/cross. A link to Andrew McCabe's wonderful long page on Roman Republican imitations (off site).
May 8, 2010. A small English VRBS ROMA/Victory imitation, mule with the usual CONSTANTINOPOLIS reverse.
Also, a few pages (only a few, this is a long process) have had the small thumbnails removed and replaced with the full-sized images. (Now that most viewers have high-speed connections, the byte-saving size of thumbnails is less important.)
Old: Links to some other sites on ancient imitations:
fourrée coins from the collection of Aaron Emigh.
Phil Davis's site on Dacian
imitatons of Roman Republican coins.
Counterfeits made for profit and intended to deceive
usually imitate silver coins (denarii) with pieces of much less
intrinsic value. Often called "fourrées" (occasionally
spelled "fourres" or "fourrees" when the accent is not used),
they consist of silver-plated coins struck on flans with base
metal cores and just enough silver on the outside to make them
look like, and pass for, good silver. The profit was in the
substitution of cheap copper for expensive silver in the core of
the coin. You can see the copper of the core where the silver
has broken off on this imitation of Trajan, AD 98-117.
"Now what do you hold to be the most difficult calling, " he [Trimalchio] went on, "after Literature? I think the doctor's and the money changer's; the doctor, because he's got to know what chaps have in their insides, and when the fever's coming, -- though truly I hate 'em like fury, for they're for ever ordering me duck-broth; the money changer, who detects the bronze underneath the surface plating of silver."The Satyricon, by Petronius, translation attributed to Oscar Wilde, p. 110
(Book Collector's Assn., N.Y., 1934.)
Go to more quotes from ancient sources.
"A sample of a forged denarius is carefully examined and the adulterated coin is bought for more than the genuine ones."Pliny, Historiae Naturalis XXXIII, translation by H. Rackham, Loeb edition, 1956
Coins were regularly counterfeited throughout the entire
Roman period. Counterfeits were especially prominent in several
periods and places. We sometimes use these terms:
1) "endemic" for regularly occurring counterfeits (e.g. silver-plated denarii under the Roman Republic)
2) "epidemic" for counterfeits that make up a substantial fraction of the coins in circulation (e.g. asses in Britain under Claudius in the mid-first century AD,
or "barbarous radiates" in Britain and Gaul c. AD 270)
Warren Esty (c) 2001
For more about ancient counterfeits in general, including how they were made, see this link [does not exist yet - under construction]. To see some counterfeit coins, click on one of the links below. The one link to Greek coins is at the end.
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200-27 BC Roman Republican silver-plated coins
This piece: Pansa 9
200-27 BC Roman Republican AE
This piece: Republican semis
British Claudian AES and earlier AE imitations of Augustus, Agrippa, etc.
This piece: Claudius as
Other 1st and 2nd century AE imitations
This piece: Domitian
second and third centuries
This piece: An imitation as of Hadrian.
Fourrées: The Twelve Caesars
This piece: Augustus
Fourrées: The 2nd Century
This piece: Commodus
Severan and later (AD 193 - 253) fourrées (plus one of Gallienus) mostly from the Balkans
This piece: Philip II
"Barbarous Radiates" [link not even under construction -- does not yet exist -- this area is too vast!]
This piece: Licinius
This page also has a few ancient molds for cast imitations.
Carausius, The British Empire
This piece: Allectus
categories AD 307-360)
1) "Two Victories" type. This piece: Constantine
2) Types of AD 330-340. This piece: Constantine II
GLORIA EXERCITVS, VRBS ROMA,
3) Other Constantinian types to AD 330.
This piece: Crispus
4) Types of AD 340-348.
This piece: Constans.
5) FEL TEMP REPARATIO (AD 348 ff),
"galley," "soldier spearing fallen horseman," and other post-reform imitations.
This piece: An unusual full-sized Constantius II imitation.
Here is a page about ancient molds for making cast imitations of FEL TEMP REPARATIO coins.
Magnentius and Decentius (AD 350-353)
This piece: Magnentius FELICITAS REIPVBLICE
Julian's "bull" AE, (AD 361-363)
Plated siliquae and solidi
This piece: Julian II
Valentinian I and later AE, (AD 364 ff)
This piece: Gratian AE2
and links within this site.
[under construction -- not even close to ready. I am not actively working on it.]
fourree (how to identify a fourrée)
"fourrée" is a French word for "filled" or "stuffed" (in the case of coins, with base metal)
subaerat (the word for "fourrée" in German, meaning something like "below, AE")
mold, mould (This site exhibits molds of coins of the tetrarchy and of FEL TEMP REPARATIO coins)
siliqua, clipped siliqua
Literature about ancient imitations, annotated.
Other websites on
Imitations of Roman Republican denarii, by Phil Davis
A spectacular collection of ancient fourrées, by Aaron Emigh
Brokage fourrees, by Aaron Emigh
This entire site, copyright (c) 2002-2012 by Warren Esty
All rights reserved. If you want to use some of it, please ask. I will almost certainly give permission.
Comments and questions are welcome. I am seeking ancient quotations about ancient imitations. e-mail me at:
This is the end of the main page on ancient Roman imitations. Click on the images above to see the linked pages.
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index of Esty's educational pages.