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Drusus Denarius - Fake or not?

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  • Drusus Denarius - Fake or not?

    Folks,

    It's raining here in Wisconsin for the first time in weeks, so I thought I would go see what's new on eBay (why? I don't know - whenever it rains here, I browse eBay).

    Anyway, the very first auction I ran into is a new listing for a Nero Claudius Drusus denarius:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=130323509864



    being sold by a seller who deals in a lot of high-end ancients, Vilmar Collectibles. The coin is even in a David Vagi NGC slab.



    But, here is my concern. The doggone thing looks like a silver cast fake of an IBSCC condemned aureus (image courtesy Forgery Network, IBSCC Bulletin on Counterfeits BOCS Vol 14 No.1 1989 Page 22 Fig 1 ) with a fake flan crack which has been repaired to try to mask any suspicion.



    Thoughts? Am I just going insane and seeing things that aren't there?!

    --Beast
    VCoins Ancients Store:
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  • #2
    Well, Zach, you should come up to Ottawa and visit me. You'd spend every day on eBay! In July we set the record for the rainiest month ever (apparently the July of 1899 doesn't count because the data aren't 'official').

    Anyway, you are right. They come from the same mould/die, though the new one is a later generation copy that has introduced a lot of softness. Note particularly the common weakness in the -ER- at the beginning of the obverse legend. Also compare the relationship of every part of the device and portrait with the beading or the surrounding legend: they are identical. So are the legends (note letter forms and spaces between letters). One thing that is also useful for comparing dies is a little trick artists use: negative space. Don't look at the devices or portrait or lettering, look at the space that they form in the fields. That can be a very useful diagnostic test. Again, here the negative space is identical.

    Richard

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    • #3
      Thanks Richard! I use all of the techniques you describe when I'm doing comparisons for fakes between data sets, so it's interesting you and I approach them the same way. Funny enough though, the first thing I thought when I saw the eBay auction was that the surfaces look all wrong. Thus, my trek over to Forvm (no matches) and Forgery Network (bingo!) and found the IBSCC aureus report. I can see why David Vagi only gave it a 2/5 for surfaces - they look terrible!

      --Beast

      ps - I can't come and visit you as I wouldn't leave. I have a ton of coin friends in Canada and I wouldn't be able to come back home as it would be too much fun talking coins all day!!
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      • #4
        IMO both fake struck from modern dies.

        Barry Murphy

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        • #5
          Hi Zach-- I agree, both are fake. You should call David. If you do, I'd be very interested in his response, if you care to post it.

          Phil Davis

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Volodya View Post
            Hi Zach-- I agree, both are fake. You should call David. If you do, I'd be very interested in his response, if you care to post it.

            Phil Davis
            Phil,

            David was at the ANA last week, but we did email back and forth a few times about this topic and other things. He's putting together a response for me to post in this thread. It might be a couple of days since I would imagine he has stuff to catch up when he gets back to the office today.

            Thanks for the input!

            --Zach
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            • #7
              Folks,

              Here is the reply David Vagi sent me to add to this thread.

              "Dear Gentlemen,

              I wish our paths would cross on a more enjoyable (and less thorny) topic, but here we are. I can start by saying that no one is perfect when it comes to identifying counterfeits, and if presented with solid evidence to the contrary I am quite open to change my mind as part of a learning process.

              Having said that, I must say that this coin raised no alarm bells. I believe it is essential that judgments of this kind are made with coin-in-hand. As as an aside, this piece came out of a recent auction by a reputable firm, and the buyer removed its black-ish patina, only to reveal the crystalization, and extremely hard deposits beneath.

              I can point out some important differences between the IBSCC report aureus and the denarius in the certificate (because this coin was crystalized I did not encapsulate it, but instead issued a certificate only).
              1. The planchet shapes are different enough that we are not dealing with two products from a shared mould...especially since this denarius is struck, not merely pressed or cast. In my view the striking crack is deep and true.
              2. Many details are noticeably different, including:
              • a. the lines surrounding NCD's eyes
              • b. the modeling of his mouth
              • c. the terminals of the spears and the precision of the shields on the trophies mounted on the attic of the arch
              • d. likewise, there are real differences between the shields beneath the inscription

              What this means to me is that the “dies” used to strike/press/cast the IBSCC aureus were derived from a genuine coin – perhaps a denarius – struck from this set of dies. In the process of touching up the transfer dies (or mould), minor details were altered, resulting in the subtle differences we observe on the two pieces here, yet without changing the overall composition.

              I don't rely on surface much for determining authenticity since excellent horn silvering and patinas can be created with some ease, but for what it's worth the crystalization and hard iron deposits on this coin are truly convincing.

              I invite further investigation. If anyone would like to make their own analysis based on the coin rather than the two photos presented online, I would be happy to start that process.

              In the future, I would be glad to hear of anyone's concerns directly, as that is a far more productive way of resolving questions of authenticity, rather than public postings when legitimate detective work is required to reach a meaningful conclusion.

              My email is: dvagi@ngccoin.com

              With best wishes,

              Dave Vagi"
              Last edited by BeastCoins; Aug 11, 2009, 06:46 AM. Reason: Formatting
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              • #8
                A follow-up note from David Vagi:

                "Hey Gents,

                The last paragraph did not get across the point I had hoped to make; instead it sounds a bit strong, and that certainly was not the intention(!).

                Anyway, what I meant to communicate was my idea that comparing photos is no substitute for handling the real thing, especially when two items are being compared and/or contrasted, and especially when the authenticity of a coin is being called into question...publicly or otherwise. I would hope that these kinds of discussions could be based on coins rather than conclusions that arise from photos, which may or may not reveal the essence of a coin (I've had a lot of surprises when photos are involved, both to the positive and negative). Also, my invitation to have direct dialogue was just that, an invitation, rather than what it appeared to be once I re-read the post...a veiled condemnation of public discussion. I still believe there is no substituted for direct discussions based upon the examination of real coins, but I would not suggest that there is no place for alternatives to that ideal scenario.

                Hope all of you are well,
                Dave"
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                • #9
                  I have found this thread very interesting and informative. There are many strange likenesses in the letters of the legends. Compare the M in IMP, the R in DRVSVS, the wishbone A in GERMANIS (reverse). All coincidence?

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