Ancient Imitations of Roman Coins -- References
Compiled by Warren Esty
Updated Nov. 27, 2011
For photos and facts, see my site: Ancient Imitations of Roman Coins
Scholarly books and articles on imitations:
Further down on this page are paragraphs about: barbarous radiates, fourth century imitations, technology of imitations,
and links to other websites.
General works: If you are interested in ancient imitations, you will find the literature somewhat unsatisfactory. The first work you should consult is the late George Boon's long (87 pages, 8 plates, and some line drawings) survey article, "Counterfeit Coins in Roman Britain," in Coins and the Archaeologist, second edition, 1988, edited by John Casey and Richard Reece and published in the Seaby series of coin books. The article is well illustrated, heavily footnoted, and covers almost the entire range of ancient imitations of Roman coins.
In 1996 Cathy King wrote "Roman Copies" in Coin Finds and Coin Use in the Roman World, edited by King and David Wigg, in the series Studien zu Fundmunzen der Antike, vol. 10. It cites many hoard publications and generally updates the earlier work of Boon, but has no photos. The book is hard to find.
A fascinating and extensive survey was written in 1931-32 by Arthur E. Robinson who undertook to record (concisely) what every tiny museum in England had in the way of ancient imitations. He wrote "False and Imitation Roman Coins" in three issues of The Journal of Antiquarian Association of the British Isles, Vol. II, no. 3, Dec. 1931, pp.97-112; Vol II, no. 4, March 1932, pp.171-184; and Vol. III, no. 1, June 1932, pp.3-28, each illustrated within.
The latest Survey of Numismatic Research has a survey article by Markus Peter describing recent articles (here is a pdf copy) on Roman imitations. Here is his personal website listing his own articles on imitations. Here is one of his articles in German "Altes und Neues zur »Falschmünzerwerkstätte« im römischen Augst."
If you just want to search the web, here is a link to my site about Ancient Imitations of Roman Coins (the main page of the site you are on). Some additional links are below.
If you are most interested in the Severan imitations now flooding out of the Balkans, I am very sorry to say I know of no scholarly work on them.
For fourth century imitations, the main work is "Imitations of Late Roman Bronze Coins, 318-363" by Pierre Bastien in American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 30 (1985) pages 143-177 and plates 41-44. David Wigg, in his book, Munzumlauf in Norgallien um die Mitte des 4. Jahrhundrets N. Chr. explains a great deal about the use of coins when 4th century imitations were common, but has only a few photographs. It has a 28 page English summary at the end, most of which is not on imitations. R. J. Brickstock wrote a whole book (thesis) on 4th century FEL TEMP REPARATIO imitations so extremely common in England, entitled Copies of the the FEL TEMP REPARATIO Coinage in Britain, but it a very detailed work and not a source for photos. It is BAR (British Archaeological Reports) British Series 176, 1987.
Constantinian: "Eine Sammlung barbarisierter spatromischer Munzen aus Carnuntum" in Mitteilungen der Ostrreichischen Numismatischen Gesellschaft, Voume 41.2, pp.27-41 and 41.3, pp.47-61 (2001) discusses (in German) and illustrates 52 imitations from the region of Carnuntum including 37 of the Constantinian "two Victories" type (that type on this site) through the "bull" type.
For "barbarous radiates" there are very many publications. Boon discusses barbarous radiates in his important survey mentioned above. Many finds are published in various volumes of the Numismatic Chronicle. But their interpretation was not clear until the work of John A. Davies, "Barbarous radiate hoards: The interpretation of coin deposits in the late third century Roman Britain," in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology 11(2) 1992, 211-224. However, this does not have photos. Davies wrote his thesis, "Barbarous radiates. A study of the irregular Roman coinage of the 270's and 280's AD from Southern England," on barbarous radiates, but it is not easily available (2 vols. PhD Thesis. University of Reading, 1988. British Library shelfmark DX82404.)
Some secondary authors cite works by Philip V. Hill who wrote long ago, before much of the evidence was assembled, but his work is drastically outdated and in many cases simply wrong. You'd almost be better off not reading them. You can look at his good pictures, but don't believe the dates or explanation he attaches to them. His ANS monograph number 112, Barbarous Radiates - Imitations of Third-Century Roman Coins from 1949, has some good plates and a long summary list of British hoards with their composition and references, and their locations plotted on a map. However, his "probable burial dates" would not be accepted today. J. P .C. Kent convincingly argued that counterfeits were generally contemporary with the originals, contra Hill. ("Barbarous Copies of Roman Coins: Their significance for the British historian and archaeologist," pp.61-67 and plate XII, in some issue of Limes Studien, prior to 1988, but I don't know which volume.) Kent, in "From Roman Britain to Saxon England" in Anglo-Saxon Coins: Studies Presented to F. M. Stenton (R.H.M. Dolley, ed.), Methuen, 1961, pp.1-22 and plates I and II, presents an account of the history of theories concerning 3rd- and 4th-century barbarous copies and why, in light of modern research, they can not be considered as a "Dark Ages" coinage. It has two page plates illustrating parallels between Roman coins and Saxon coins.
Sutherland, C.H.V., Coinage and Currency in Roman Britain, London, 1937, is, like Hill, outdated and sometimes wrong, but includes an excellent analysis of reverse types for barbarous radiates. It is useful in attributing prototypes and has good plates.
The Richborough Hoard of 'Radiates", 1931, by Harold Mattingly and W.P.D. Stebbing, ANS NNM No. 80, published 1938, is a small format monograph with 225 coins illustrated on 15 page plates, the last of which shows similar dark ages coins. Again, the dates are not trustworthy, but quite of few barbarous radiates are illustrated.
If you want to see lots of photos of a wide variety of barbarous radiates, the task will be difficult. Some obscure hoard publications have many imitations, but usually not from a wide range of the possible styles. The Cunetio Treasure by Edward Besley and Roger Bland has many barbarous radiates, but of rather consistent style (and, the book is hard to find and expensive).
Sources consisting primarily of photographs.
A wonderful selection of Roman imitations can be found throughout the volumes of the series Die Fundmunzen der Romischen Zeit im Grossherzogtum Luxemburg, by Raymond Weiller, I (1972), II (1977), III (1983), and IV (1990). I suppose a new volume may be out but I have not seen it. Each volume has plates that emphasize the non-typical coins found, so they illustrate many fine ancient imitations.
Banit and Simonetti wrote the 18-volume Corpus Nummorum Romanorum, which has extensive photographic coverage of Roman imperial coins up to part way through Nero. This includes photographs of numerous examples of imitations of Roman coins of the period.
The Normanby Hoard and Other Coin Hoards, edited by R. Bland and A. Burnett (1988). It is volume VIII in the "Coin Hoards From Roman Britain" series.
The Chalfont Hoard and other Roman Coin Hoards edited by Roger Bland (1992), much like the Normanby Hoard volume, has photographs of imitations scattered among the official coins on 31 plates. It is volume IX in the "Coin Hoards from Roman Britain" series published by the British Museum Press.
Roman Coins from North West England by David Shotter, Lancaster Univ., 1990.
Coin Hoards from Roman Britain, Volume X, ed. Bland and Orna-Ornstein (BMP, 2000?) illustrates many bararous radiates and an entire hoard of 95 high-quality fourree denarii of Claudius.
Technology of imitations: William Campbell wrote Greek and Roman Plated Coins (American Numismatic Society Numismatic Notes and Monographs, number 57, 1933) which is a very detailed technical discussion of the metallurgy of fourres, with many micro-photographs. If you want to know how fourres were produced, this rare book is essential reading.
Lawrence Cope discusses the metallury of "Surface-silvered Ancient Coins" in Methods of Chemical and Metallurgical Investigation of Ancient Coins (edited by E. T. Hall and D. M. Metcalf, 1972), pages 261-278 and plates 19-20.
Susan La Niece discusses the "Technology of Silver-Plated Coin Forgeries" in Metallurgy in Numismatics, Volume 3, edited by M. M. Archibald and M. R. Cowell, 1993.pages 227-239 (including 3 plates)
W. A. Oddy and M. R. Cowell discuss "The technology of gilded coin forgeries" in the same book, pp. 199-226, including 5 plttes of coin photos.
J. G. Milne wrote "Roman Coins Moulds From Egypt" NC 1905, pp.342-353 on cast counterfeits. John Yonge Akerman wrote some about British cast counterfeits a very long time ago (NC 1834, NC 1844). In spite of their age, these articles are good. He also wrote about "Fourres and Forgeries" reprinted in 1970 in a pamphlet that still shows up, but is not very current.
Other. Giles Carter and Patrizia Serafin-Petrillo discuss "Silver-Plated Coins of the Roman Republic" (a numerical article counting the coins and determining the fraction of Republican coins that are imitations) in Rassegna di studi del civico meseo archeologico e del civico gabinetto numismatico di milano, fasc. XLI-XLII, 1998, pages 27-33 (in English).
"Quality control of silver coins in antiquity," by George J. Varoufakis, in Metallurgy in Numismatics, Volume 4, edited by Oddy and Cowell (1998) RNS Special publication 30.
Varoufakis discusses an Athenian law of c. 360 BC which outlines the job of the "testor" in the market who was required to judge the value of coins and detemine which were substandard counterfeits.
The American Numismatic Society has some important resources. Their periodical Numismatic Literature publishes abstracts of almost all books and articles on coins. The search engine for Numismatic Literature permits you to search by key words. For example, entering "imitation" finds (on November 21, 2001) 265 articles, most relevant to the topic of ancient imitations, and most with enough detail in the abstract to let you know if the article would address your particular area of interest.
Although we usually think of "barbarous radiates" as coming from Gaul or Britain, they have been found in North Africa. John Mac Isaac contributed this (slightly edited by me) about barbarous radiates ("BR") to the "barbarized" e-group:
"Here is some starter bibliography on BR in North Africa: P. "Visona, The Coins" in Humphrey, et al. The Circus, etc., Ann Arbor 1988 (with some additional bibliography); W. Metcalf, "The Coins" in "Leptiminus" (JRA Suppl. 4 ) 1992. Bill Metcalf allowed that, in his earlier publication of the Michigan excavations, some of his Claudius II entries were probably BR, seconding a collegue who worked on the Liri material and similarly had no BR, "Its amazing what you don't see when you aren't looking for it". BR on the Continent: I have a complete set of Numismatic Literature and so have had no need to use the online NL at the ANS web site, but if you can search by issue and abstract #, start with 143: 201, 206, 246; 141: 191, 202, 294; 140: 261, 356; 139: 93; 138: 182; 137: 205, 237, 253; 135: 385.
Websites with information about ancient imitations:
Ancient Imitations of Roman Coins (this site)
Ancient Roman Coin Molds (Moulds) (this site)
Aaron Emigh has an amazing collection of fourrées on the web. If you like imitations (counterfeits), it is certainly worth a long visit.
Doug Smith has excellent web pages on numerous topics indexed at his main page, "Ancient Greek and Roman Coins." His pages on fourrés are outstanding with excellent illustrations. You can reach them all by beginning at his page "Fourrees." He has many related pages, including "Greek Plated Coins," "Roman Imperial Plated coins," and "Barbaric Severans".
Phil Davis has a large and wonderful collection of Roman Republican imitations on the web. These are not plated counterfeits, but local good-silver imitations from the Danube region.
Coinsforever.com has a site illustrating many solid-silver imitations. "This page is dedicated to the study of Celtic, barbarian, local and other unofficial silver imitation issues of Roman denarii and antoniniani spanning approximately four centuries - ca. 150 BC to ca. 250 AD."
I have a site on ancient coins, "Ancient Roman and Greek Coins, FAQ."
If more articles come to mind, I'll add them later. Suggestions are very welcome.
Warren Esty First posted, 5/26/2000.