Author Topic: How were fakes made in the early 19th century?  (Read 2299 times)

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Austrokiwi

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How were fakes made in the early 19th century?
« on: April 08, 2010, 11:46:59 AM »
I felt silly about a recent ebay purchase I knowingly spent almost €30.00 on what was described as a contemporary fake Maria Theresia Thaler. Once I recieved the coin I felt less silly about the expenditure. Examination of the fake has resulted in confusing, for me, information.  This is what I have observed about the coin:

The obverse:

The surface of the coin shows signs of having been cast yet parts of the design are like no other MTT I have seen this suggests to me was been struck by dies.
The obverse design appears to be closest to a post 1817 Venice strike


The reverse. 

The design is an exact facsimile of an 1789 - 1792 Guenzburg strike.  The impression is weak and it suggests to me that it was cast from a mold produced from a Guenzburg coin.


The edge.  the motto is missing the ET. the lettering is visible but is obviously crudely done although it could easily be mistaken for wear.  The intriguing thing is the edge decorations are those that are regarded as typical of Milan or Venice in the 19th century. The edge is integral with the coin and there is no sign of it having been added later ( as is known with one fake)


I have been trying to work out how the counterfeiter produced this fake.  One obvious possibility is that the planchets were cast ( hence the signs of casting bubbles) or they were cut from poorly formed sheet metal.  But what has me confused is that one side tells me it was cast from a coin the other suggests strongly it was engraved. 


Anyone have any ideas?


The question is important as I have found evidence suggesting that the 19th century Italian MTT may have been first produced in Guenzburg. the fake if cast might ( I really doubt it though) have come from a "Mule"

Online Figleaf

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Re: How were fakes made in the early 19th century?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2010, 12:51:16 PM »
I can only speculate, but speculate I will. My scenario is that the coin was struck or cast in Africa. Decades ago, a collector, visiting Ethiopia told me how he'd fond a pair of dies for making a MT thaler in a market stall. He wanted to buy, but the stall holder didn't want to sell to a foreigner and moved the mould out of view. He talked to the locals, who said that the object of the exercise was not to deceive but to replenish the dwindling supplies of MT thalers. They also said that demand had tapered off to the point where it was restricted to the most "conservative" farmers. These stories should of course be taken with a grain of salt, because the locas wouldn't want to have the attention of the authorities over illegal practices acting on information from a blabbering foreigner.

Struck or cast? Do the "ping" test and find out. You must have plenty of genuine coins for comparison. Cast coins tend to be slightly larger, but the edge may have bee filled off to hade the seem between the two halves. My African forger could do either with the right material and some practice. The funny edge is because that's the do-it-yourself part. British forgers can't get it right either. Muling is the hallmark of the sloppy forger.

Not having handled the coin, my favorite would be that it's (weakly) struck. The dies didn't match and one die may have been "enhanced" on points where it showed much corrosion.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Austrokiwi

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Re: How were fakes made in the early 19th century?
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2010, 11:00:53 AM »
Thanks Peter just saw your reply.  I have documentary evidence that the MTT was still being used in 1982 to pay shepard boys in Tigre. From my reading I suspect there is still a demand for MTTs in the rural conservative areas of the Yemen and Ethiopia.


However the fake is unlikely to be of African manufacture as the obverse shows the "Young" old bust  with a plain no pearls  brooch and only five pearls in the diadem, this type was never accepted in Ethiopia or Yemen.   I believe it is likely to have been produced somewhere in the region encompassing Wallachia through to Syria  where that particular obverse was known and was more readily accepted.  I am sure it is not a modern production( also supported by the edge decorations. Given the coins that were used as models for this fake it must date to 1793/1815 -1853.   

Online Figleaf

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Re: How were fakes made in the early 19th century?
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2010, 11:43:57 AM »
That is know territory. The places most active in forging and imitating were the Bekaa valley in Lebanon and Cyprus. Both places were relatively lawless and had good access to silver and technology.

Around 1800, the current technology would be the steam press, an unwieldy machine, unlikely to be available outside mints. However, pantographs would have been available. The pantograph produces an excellent copy, but with some fading. Usually, the product of the pantograph needs to be slightly enhanced. This fits in well with what you tell me about the coin.

Today, Cyprus is less active, Turkey and the Balkan more active. However, the specialty of the Balkan is Roman coins, while Turkey and Lebanon produce euro coins. Moreover, in both places you will find small electric presses. These will produce a perfectly struck copy, so that the quality of the die becomes crucial and modern fakers don't have much experience in making good dies. Their "coins" will be accepted anyway. Lettering would be too thick and badly aligned and the smooth fields are typically badly pockmarked. Legends and edges are usually clear giveaways.

Your description fits much better with an "early" forgery than with a modern one.

Peter

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Chinasmith

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Re: How were fakes made in the early 19th century?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2013, 10:11:05 PM »
In the late 1700's and early 1800's (and later of course), counterfeit coins were made both by casting and by machinery. Large numbers of Mexican 8 Reales coins were made in Birmingham, England by private mints in the 1790's. Some were made of good silver, some were debased silver, and some were simply silver plated brass. All of these were made for circulation where English merchants traded. Some of these coins probably ended up in China and Southeast Asia and some may have ended up in America. Making coins with machinery, however, is expensive and requires technical knowledge. Casting fake coins can be done by anyone with clay, a crucible and a bellows. The genuine coin is pressed into the clay, the clay is baked until it is hard and dry. The bellows is used to raise the temperature of a fire high enough to melt copper (an ordinary fire will not get hot enough) or lead (actually an ordinary fire will melt lead). The raw metal is melted in a crucible, then poured into the mold. Afterwards, the coin is usually coated with something to make it look like silver or gold.  So, a die struck coin made 200 years ago can still be a fake.
Researcher on coins, paper money and tokens of China.

akona20

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Re: How were fakes made in the early 19th century?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2013, 10:54:00 PM »
Noting this is an old topic I seem to see a rise in the later 19th century method of copying called electrotyping in certain areas.

I have had the opportunity some time ago to examine many museum made electrotype copies and I see signs in various coins in recent months that this process is in use again but in a highly sophisticated manner.