Calgary Coin

Fake Roman Republican Denarius

fake republic denarius

Enlargement of Obverse

Enlargement of Reverse

I believe this to be a modern fake of a Roman Republican denarius of Safra (also sometimes referred to as Spurius Afranius), ca 150 BC. Reference RSC Afrania 1, Sear (new) - 85, Syn-388, Crawford- 206/1.

3.79 grams

18.1 x 18.8 mm


Probably die struck but at a very low pressure


CHARACTERISTICS: I first noticed something was wrong because of the general look and feel not being ancient. It is not possible to illustrate this clearly on an image, but the flan is a little too flat, the metal does not have an aged look, and the feel is slightly soapy (a sign of casting). A closer examination showed the following features:


There is no evidence of flow lines in the metal that would suggest the metal flowed under a die during normal die pressures. Such lines should be present and clear on a genuine coin on this grade. My impression of the coin is that the die was impressed into very hot metal, and thus did not need as high a die pressure.


There are a number of fissures in the flan on the reverse. Fissures like this can occur on some genuine ancient coins, but are unusual in this series and are cause for concern.


There are a number of errors in style, but the most noticable is on the chariot on the reverse. Who ever engraved this die did not understand what he was engraving, and it would appear that he mistook the top of the Chariot for a wisp of clothing flowing out from the figure of Victory. This is a mistake a real Roman Celator would be unlikely to make. Also, on the same image, the horse's tail is a simple line drawing, which is inconsistent with the style of any Republican denarii of this period that I have seen. The tail will normally be drawn fully filled in and looking somewhat 3-dimensional. A third error in style occures on Victory's wings, which are disjointed from her body, and very unnatural looking.


relatively low

moderate to low

The look and feel of the coin is just wrong, and even if mixed in with a group of genuine denarii it would stand out as different. A dealer buying a very large group of coins might not notices it if he were in a hurry and not looking closely, but he would almost certainly spot it if he were taking any time over it. For the same reasons, an experienced collector will spot it fairly easily and there should be little danger to him. However, this type of fake was intended to fool, and an inexperienced collector will find it to be rather dangerous.

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