Could this Roman coin be the most incompetent forgery of all time?

There are few things worse than finding that a coin you own is fake - unless you're Rob Clements and the coin is a Roman one, apparently created by a dyslexic forger.

Numismatic experts often have to break it to disappointed coin-finders that Roman coins are often not very valuable. The Roman Empire was vast and buzzing with trade after all. Only coins which are rare or unique for some reason are valuable.

It seems though that Clements's silver denarius coin, which he found just a couple of inches below the surface of the soil on a path in Brighton is truly unique.

Apparently based on a the design of a coin commemorating the battle of Actium between Octavian (Augustus) and the joint forces of Anthony and Cleopatra, it displays the head of Julius Caesar rather than Augustus on the obverse, and the image of a crocodile faces the opposite direction to the original.

Augustian Roman silver denarius
A standard silver denarius from the time of Augustus

More unusual still is the spelling of 'Egypt'. On the coin it appears as 'Aegipto', but 'Aegypto' was the standard spelling. The inaccuracies will contribute to the value of the coin, which the British Museum has suggested could be worth £3,000.

Clements, who works as a cleaner at the University of Brighton, says he is seriously considering selling the coin in order to help fund himself on a course there.

A fan of the famous British sitcom Only Fools and Horses, he imagines the coin's creator might have been akin to the show's lead character, who wasn't shy of selling dubious versions of the real thing, "It's amazing to connect with a Del Boy who lived 2,000 years ago." he grinned.

Experts are wondering whether the coin really could have been a simple forgery though, as there is one more mistake that very few forgers would make: the coin is not plated, but made from solid silver.

Could a knock-off merchant really have minted a fake coin that cost too much for him to profit from? What a plonker.

 

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