This week's Featured Web Site is suggested by John and Nancy Wilson, of Ocala, FL, who write:
We found a site that would be very useful for readers of The E-Sylum. It deals with counterfeits and has many helpful links regarding that subject. As you know counterfeits are very harmful to the numismatic hobby and it is always great when a site is devoted to the subject. Lots of information is on the site including some great references. You will also find links for money artists James Stephen George Boggs and Timothy Prusmack. Though some don't like Wikipedia it is always an interesting place to find out information on almost anything.
Counterfeiting is as old as money itself. Coinage of money began in the Greek city of Lydia around 600 B.C. Before the introduction of paper money, the most prevalent method of counterfeiting involved mixing base metals with pure gold or silver. A common practice was to "shave" the edges of a coin. This was known as "clipping." While not itself counterfeiting, the exponents were able to use these precious metal shavings to create counterfeits. A fourrée is an ancient type of counterfeit coin, in which a base metal core has been plated with a precious metal to resemble its solid metal counterpart. Rulers often dealt very harshly with the perpetrators of such deeds.
Both in the United States, and England, counterfeiting was once punishable by death. Paper currency printed by Benjamin Franklin often bore the phrase "to counterfeit is death." The theory behind such harsh punishments was that one who had the skills to counterfeit currency was considered a threat to the safety of the State, and had to be eliminated - another explanation is the fact that issuing money that people could trust was both an economic imperative, as well as a (where applicable) Royal prerogative - therefore counterfeiting was a crime against the state or ruler itself, rather than against the person who received the fake money. Far more fortunate was an earlier practitioner of the same art, active in the time of the Emperor Justinian. Rather than being executed, when Alexander the Barber was apprehended, the Emperor chose to employ his talents in the government's own service