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BeastCoins Nov 13, 2009 06:50 AM

Questionable Venetian Coins

I have a puzzlement. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to acquire a total of six examples of a Venetian "ducat" I was led to believe was part of a hoard of Venetian coins found somewhat recently (no, I don't have any other information other than that). Here are three examples, in different states of wear, of the six and all six come from the same pair of dies.

Italian States-Venice, Venetian Duke of Crete, in the name of Antonio Venier as Doge (1382-1400), Gilt Imitative Ducat, Aegean Island Mint (Possibly Chios)
Doge kneeling left before nimbate St. Mark standing right, both holding pendant flag between them, D / V / X in center field
. SIT . T . XPE . DAT ' : O ' : TV-REGIS . ISTE . DVCAT ' .
Christ, nimbate, standing facing within oval and surrounded by stars, book of Gospels in left hand, right hand raised in benediction
Plain Edge
21mm, 2.54g, Silver with Gold overlay
Type of Paolucci 37.1

Note: Alan Stahl, in his phenomenal book, "Zecca, The Mint of Venice in the Middle Ages", on pp.235-242 discusses the problem of counterfeiting of ducats. Especially interesting is the section on pp.241-2 about the Venetian Duke of Crete and the acknowledgement of the problems of gilt ducats circulating on par with true ducats. The Chalkis Hoard of Torneselli contained 4% of forgeries of Antonio Veneri, along with 2% of Michele Steno (1400-1413) and 1% of Tomaso Mocenigo (1414-1423).

Some notes - the flans are all different, with different striations in the fields. The edges on all of them are clipped. They appear to be and ring as though they are of good silver. The weight range of the six is 2.52g to 2.57. Venetian ducats, however, are in the 3.50g range. Venetian grossi (silver) are completely different design and are around 1.97g during the reign of Antonio Venier. So...what are these? Modern fakes painstakingly produced to look like imitation ducats with gilding? I've not seen any other examples outside of these six pieces in the past five or so months. Here is an example of a debased Chios mint ducat for comparison.

CRUSADER.GREECE.Island of Chios or uncertain Aegean area.Debased gold Ducat
( 3.39g, 22mm, 9h).
Struck in imitation of Venetian ducat after Doge Andrea Dandalo ( AD 1343-1354) but with blundered legends and letters sideways or retrograde.
AvNv DAKDVIO DVX S N VEIETI, Doge kneeling before St.mark.
Reverse.SITT XPE DAT O TV - K(retrograde) OIO ISTE DVCAT, Christ standing in mandorla surrounded by nine stars.
Good very fine,obverse struck from rusty die.Obverse soft strike.
Image courtesy Pavlos S. Pavlou in his VCoins store.

And now here is an example, from the same pair of dies (!) of an official mint product of Venice:

Image courtesy Cayón Auction, June 2009, Lot 873.

The description does not list the weight, so no help there. Interesting though - the beading, which is sharp on most of mine, is missing on the gold specimen. So, is there someone out there producing fake Venetian products and dispersing them saying they came from a hoard? Is the gold example authentic? I haven't run across any fake reports of Venetian coins this year, so I'm stumped.

--Zach Beasley

4to2centophilia Nov 13, 2009 07:47 AM

I would have expected that a hoard of coins from identical dies, would have similar amounts of wear.

I find it difficult to imagine a group of coins from the same dies, go off into general circulation , for varying amounts of time/wear...........then suddenly come back together and get buried.

If they had all stayed together, they must have stayed together from early on, and thus would have had similar amounts of wear on them........right?

Only other explanation would be that they were together from the beginning and someone rubbed select coins repeatedly over time........while leaving others seldom touched.

I can come up with a couple more exotic explanations, but they are just that, exotic. I couldn't come up with any other simple explanations.

Or they are fakes.

Occam's Razor comes to mind in a situation like this.



BeastCoins Nov 13, 2009 08:37 AM

Hmmm....the plot thickens. Thanks to the person who brought this to my attention this morning in the first place, the date for the die pairs now goes back to May 2008 with this example:

ITALY.VENICE.Antonio Venier AD 1382-1400.AV.Ducat. ( 3.46g, 21mm, 12h)
ΛNTO'VENERIO DVX .S. M .VENETI., Standing figure of Saint Mark ( left ) handing banner to Doge ( right ) who is kneeling before him.
Reverse..SIT.T.XPE.DAT.' Q'TV REGIS .ISTE DVCΛT'.,nimbate figureof Christ standing in Mandorla decorated with nines tars, right handraised in benediction, in left book of gospels.
Ref:CNI VII pg.110.35
Extremely fine, slight pecking obverse by VENETI.

Note the beading is present on this one and the striations in the fields are identical to this example I have:

So, is this ducat the seed for all of these pieces or is it too a fake?



djmacdo Nov 13, 2009 07:24 PM

Gold or gilt?

You always pose the most interesting questions. I wish I had some answers! Are we sure the two "gold" pieces are in fact gold, rather than jsut gilt silver with the gilding intact?


BeastCoins Nov 14, 2009 07:21 AM


Well, I didn't handle either piece sold as an authentic ducat, so I am not certain. I would suspect they actually are gold though, but at least one of them fake if not both. The style is consistent with the Zecca mint, making the six pieces I have completely spurious and I suspect modernly so. I have to do more digging on this to see if I can find more examples from these dies sold in the past few years. The main problem with the pieces I bought is the style isn't consistent with Aegean contemporary counterfeits, so the only explanation which would put them in the intended timeframe would be if someone from the mint had produced these after hours from this exact pair of dies and while the dies were still fresh, assuming the striations were part of the die and not part of the flan. I find this impossible, so I'm now going to follow the path that there are a number of fakes of Venetian coins out there that need to get rooted out.

I admit when I bought my six pieces I was extremely suspicious of them. But without being able to find any evidence at the time to link them to something modern, I only offered one for sale (sold immediately) and just recently put a second one in my store. I will have to contact the client to buy back the piece I sold and return the six to the dealers from whom I bought them and will move their entries from the Italy page to the fakes page.

It just makes me wonder - who in the world decided to make just a few pieces in silver and fake some gilding on them to get them to pass as imitative pieces? It's just such a bizarre thing to do, considering the relatively low value of the coins and obscurity of the type for collectors.

Mac - glad you find my topics interesting! That means quite a lot to me coming from someone as accomplished as your good self :)


djmacdo Nov 15, 2009 09:41 AM

Weird counterfeiters.
Fakers can be weird. My first publication, back in the late 1960s, was a counterfeit Claudius denarius which combined excellent die cutting with a reverse from the pseudo-republican coins of the year 68-69. Very strange. I have right now a fake Caracalla denarius from well-cut dies struck over a genuine but plugged drachm of Menander. What in the devil were these counterfeiters thinking?

I hate to admit it, but other than maybe the exaggerated striations in the fields, it would never have occurred to me to think these Venetian pieces were other than legitimate.


BeastCoins Nov 23, 2009 11:00 AM

Just found another example, which is currently for sale on-line:

Le doge agenouillé devant saint Marc. R/. Le Christ dans une ellipse étoilée. (Friedberg 1229). Or. 3,48 g. Superbe exemplaire.

I will have to poll my fellow dealers to see if there is some sort of hoard found or if there is a Venetian counterfeiting epidemic ensuing...


quisquam Nov 23, 2009 01:50 PM

I'm quite sure that the shown coins of the Doge Antonio Venier are fake. There was an article about these fakes in the german magazine 'MünzenRevue', Issue 9/2008. Common to all this fakes is the weak stike of the face of St. Marcus and the deformed S in the legend on the obverse and the open nimbus of christ on reverse. There are even coins of the Doge Michele Steno coupled with this reverse die.

Regards, Stefan

BeastCoins Nov 23, 2009 01:59 PM

Thank you Stefan! I can't read German and don't have a subscription to 'MünzenRevue', but am glad these have already been researched and documented elsewhere. So, are you saying every coin depicted here is fake (the silver and gold issues both) or just the silver ones? I have not handled any of the gold ones and will return the silver ones for a refund, but if the gold are also fakes, I will contact the sellers of all three pieces to advise them of the issue.

Thank you again!


quisquam Nov 23, 2009 02:40 PM

The article is about the gold, but the strikes in silver are mentioned, too. The gold and silver coins pictured here (not the greek imitation of course) are obviously from the same fake dies discussed there. In the article Andrea Paolucci of the University Padua is quoted, who says that the dies are fake with a probability of 95% for stylistic reasons. There are also metallurgical and rasterelectron-microscopic analyses of the gold coins and the argumentation seems to be well founded to me. I can scan the article for you, maybe it's of good use even if you can't read german yourself. But I will have no opportunity to do so before saturday.

Regards, Stefan

europa Jan 14, 2010 08:04 AM

another piece
1 Attachment(s)
Hello to everybody...

I came along this forum by accident. I was surching for info about these Venetian or "Venetian" coins on my father's request. He has one in his possesion, but it is quite different from those in the photos here. Also there are no defects like those you mentioned were written in MunzenRevue.

Quisquam...I would really really appreciate it, if you can post a scan of the article in MunzenRevue. Thank you!

We just cannot figure it out, so... Can anybody help us?

Here is a photo of our ducat:

BeastCoins Jan 15, 2010 09:54 AM

Hello Europa,

I'm struggling to read the obverse legend on your coin in order to help attribute it for your father. From your photo, it looks like FAM . ARIPET to me. Can you read it more clearly in hand?


--Zach Beasley

europa Jan 16, 2010 06:11 AM

Hi, Zach.

It says PAMARIPET. Clearly - it is a P.
I surched for any coin with this inscription and I found one - but it has totaly different inscriptions in the opposite side.
The reference I found is a Venetian coin, found in Croatia, with inscription:
(no picture or photo available).

Thanks for your strugle and time!


BeastCoins Feb 18, 2010 09:25 AM


I still have not been able to figure out your coin, so I will get back to it when I have some ideas.


BeastCoins Feb 18, 2010 09:29 AM

Looks like another two Venetian ducats need to be reviewed for comparison to the modern fakes already identified. I sent the CNG team an email yesterday for their thoughts on them. Both pieces looks like modified examples of the known fakes above (surfaces on one, flan on the other, and pellets added to the nimbus cruciger to throw off suspects, which means the original dies have been modified slightly after this issue came to light!)

228, Lot: 369. Estimate $150.

ITALY, Venezia (Venice). Antonio Veniero. 1382-1400. AV Ducato (20mm, 3.16 g, 12h). St. Mark standing right, presenting banner to kneeling Doge / Christ standing facing, holding Gospels and raising hand in benediction, within mandorla containing nine stars. Papadopoli 1 var. (number and placement of pellet stops); Paolucci 1. Near VF, crimp in flan.

228, Lot: 368. Estimate $200.

ITALY, Venezia (Venice). Antonio Veniero. 1382-1400. AV Ducato (19mm, 3.32 g, 12h). St. Mark standing right, presenting banner to kneeling Doge / Christ standing facing, holding Gospels and raising hand in benediction, within mandorla containing nine stars. Papadopoli 1 var. (number and placement of pellet stops); Paolucci 1. Near VF.

Above images permission courtesy CNG and both pieces were withdrawn from the auction.

Here, again, is the fake from the Cayón Auction (so the image is closer in proximity to these for comparison instead of scrolling up and down).


--Zach Beasley

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