The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 1, January 4, 2021, Article 25


A World Mint News Blog article describes Michael Bugeja's unfortunate experience buying a couple of ancient coins that turned out to be fake. -Editor

Fake Ceasar Elephant Denarius

Michael Bugeja, an ancient coin enthusiast, warns about the proliferation of fakes and explains how to avoid buying them. But when you do, you should hold the seller and yourself accountable.

I have had good success in finding, identifying, and slabbing ancient coins. Although I, too, like to hold history, and have raw samples as well, I consign my finds on platforms that only accept holdered coins, using proceeds to continue my hobby. Nevertheless, I sometimes fail to do the necessary analysis before placing a bid. This year I did that twice, winning the above Caesar denarius and a Greek Aegina turtle silver stater. Upon seeing them, I knew they were fake.

Many online sellers state that their coins are guaranteed to be authentic with refunds for any reason — within 30 days. That, alas, is often not enough time for NGC or ANACS to authenticate and the buyer to return a coin. Also, be wary of any eBay seller who says the ancient coin is "unresearched" or "unknown variety." Sometimes this is an honest disclosure. But it also may be code words for fake.

I had identified and won a similar coin a few years back, sending it to NGC, which graded it as Almost Uncirculated.

I realized I was in trouble even before I received the coin because the seller was immediately offering another one. This is a relatively rare coin, and a second example from the same seller raised alarm bells. I wrote to him about my concerns and asked if he accepted returns if NGC designated the coin as "not genuine."

He replied angrily that a trader often has more than one Caesar denarii and told me if I don't like his coins not to bid again on his site.

Fake Ceasar Elephant Denarius slab I noticed significant differences on the reverse when compared to my own genuine coin as well as the one on the NGC website. My coin was 2.51 grams, more than a gram underweight. I should have done an in-depth analysis before bidding on this lot. Consider device irregularities alongside the authentic reverse:

The devices are not sharp as if poorly cast. There are more than seven flaws on the reverse with respect to design or spacing, but these are among the most obvious.

The lessons here involve our love of the hobby and how others can take advantage of that love. We need to hold ourselves and sellers accountable with all coins, especially ancients. That means we must continue to learn about ancient coins and build a respectable library.

Handbook of Ancient Greek and Roman Coins My favorites are Handbook of Ancient Greek and Roman Coins, Coins of the Bible, and 100 Greatest Ancient Coins. I also frequent online sites such as Forum Ancient Coins, which has a fake coin database.

Finally, everyone makes mistakes in coin collecting. It's part of the learning experience. If you have purchased a coin that turns out to be counterfeit, never try to sell it to recoup your loss. Hold yourself accountable and take the fake out of circulation. Then find a reputable dealer or an online seller that guarantees authenticity without a 30-day limit on time.

You can also take advantage of an NGC service associated with eBay sellers. You can fill out a form with the eBay identification number and coin description. An ancients expert will view the listing and give you a preliminary opinion about the coin's authenticity for $5 and an estimate of grade with authenticity for $10.

To read the complete article, see:
Holding history, sellers, and yourself accountable (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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