Calgary Coin

Fake Elagabalus Sestertius

Fake Elagabalus Sestertius

Enlargement of Obverse

Enlargement of Reverse

This is a modern (possibly 19th or 20th century) lost wax cast fake of a Elagabalus sestertius.

20.4 grams

29.4 x 31.2 mm


Lost wax cast in bronze


CHARACTERISTICS: This is a relatively good fake, made to fool the collector and dealer. It has an overall "soft" appearance that results from a combination of the casting not capturing the finer details, and the surfaces having been "worried" to remove casting signs and make the coin look worn from use. This "worrying" took the form of tooling of the surfaces to smooth any rough metal due to lumps left by the casting process (unfortunately my scanner will not pick up the marks left in the tooling process), and a general polishing of the surfaces to give the impression of wear (but which resulted in the coin having wear even in protected areas). The edges were also heavily filed to remove other signs of casting, but there is evidence suggesting a sprew removal at 3 o'clock (relative to the portrait). A light but fairly convincing artificial patination was applied to highlight the recesses in a dark green, but this layer scrapes off easily, and has no underlying cuprite layer (proving it is artificial), and appears to be some type of wax.

One casting detail that could not be removed were two small very round casting holes at the top of the portrait, which strongly suggest this is a lost wax casing. These holes show no sign of internal corrosion as one would expect if they were old corrosion holes, so they almost certainly result from air bubbles in the final casting process.

Another characteristic of note, but which again I cannot illustrate on an image, is that the reverse surfaces have a natural concave form as one would expect on a Severus Alexander sestertius, but 8 mm in from the edge becomes slightly convex. Such a feature would be impossible on a genuine die struck specimen, and indicate a deformation of the wax prior to or during the final casting. It does give the coin a rather odd feel when you pick it up.


High at first, but low on careful examination

High unless very experienced
very high

The style is good because it is molded directly from a genuine sestertius, and the weight and size are very close to what one would expect on an original. What makes this coin very dangerous is that it could very easily be confused as a genuine but over-cleaned specimen of the type and only a very careful examination shows it to be otherwise, and even then only if you know what to look for.

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