The coinage of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium:

Ancient fakes and imitations

I. General introduction

Last modification: 6 April 2021

Contents of this page:

  1. Introduction
  2. Types
  3. An obvious fake
  4. From the hardly noticeable to the bizarre

1. Introduction

Counterfeiting is as old as coinage itself. There is an almost continuous series from the hardly detectable forgeries to the very crude "barbarous" imitations, from the full-weight and "good silver" pieces to the undersized and copper fakes. There are also many fourrees (silver plated pieces with a bronze core). One can hypothesize that some of these pieces came from the legal mints but the majority of the counterfeit coins must have been produced in various places, theoretically everywhere where these coins were accepted. All kinds of unofficial issues of the Apolloniate and Dyrrhachian coins will be dealt with in this page.

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2. Types

The exact terminology and legal aspects of counterfeiting can be studied from other web sites but some terms are described here as I use them.

Almost all hoards, fine collections, publications, and auction material, too, contain fakes, sometimes catalogued as authentic ones. I am going to create a list of corrections to Ceka's catalogue, to point at imitations. He did not check all name combinations in his catalogue, some from foreign publications are fakes, including hybrid imitations.

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3. An obvious fake

Filotas-Kallenos-original Filotas-Kallenos-fake

The upper coin is an original Dyrrhachian drachma, Filotas-Kallenos, Ceka 452 (GP Class D4,  year -27). 3.36 g, 17.5 mm; known also from hoards. The lower coin is an obvious plated fake imitation of the coin above, 2.65 g. This is easy to detect: the silver plating is peeling off, the bronze core shows, some letters in the legend are irregular, and the weight is very low for a silver drachma. Two more plated varieties of this fake have been published: BMC 79 and 80.

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4. From the hardly noticeable to the bizarre

The most frequently copied Dyrrhachian emissions were those coming from the last phase of the drachma production: the increased demand for this coins increased the counterfeiting activity. Obviously illiterate people copied pieces, which were available to them, during this era, when already the original ones had been less carefully executed, and forgers others copied the copies. This, similarly to other coinages, led to a degradation of the devices and the legends, often with metal debasement and/or size reduction.

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