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Authenticity Distinguishing between genuine and fake objects.

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Old Nov 13, 2009, 06:50 AM   #1
BeastCoins
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Questionable Venetian Coins

Folks,

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)
ANTO : VENERIO .-. S . M . VENETI .
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.
Ref:Schl.XII.24.
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
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Last edited by BeastCoins : Nov 23, 2009 at 01:51 PM.
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Old Nov 13, 2009, 07:47 AM   #2
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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.




Mark
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Old Nov 13, 2009, 08:37 AM   #3
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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?

Hmmmm....

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Old Nov 13, 2009, 07:24 PM   #4
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Gold or gilt?

Beast,

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?

Mac
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Old Nov 14, 2009, 07:21 AM   #5
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Mac,

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

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Old Nov 15, 2009, 09:41 AM   #6
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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.

Mac
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