"Not Kosher" by David Hendin
I obtained a first edition copy of David Hendin’s 2005 book, Not Kosher, directly from him and as a bonus it was autographed! The book gives an overview of some of the known modern forgeries of ancient Jewish and Biblical coins. It is important to make a distinction here. The coins in this book are ones that were made recently and not to be confused with ancient counterfeit (fouree) coins which are quite collectible. This book mostly presents coins that are copies of actual ancient coins but many fantasy coins are listed as well. Fantasy coins are ones that someone created to look like they are authentic but do not match any known ancient coin. Each coin in the book is described in detail and there are numerous photographs. In some cases the coin has also been magnified to help see the details. If you are dealing with a knowledgeable ancient coin dealer the topic of modern ancient forgeries will not surface. But if you find coins from another source, especially a person who is not familiar with ancient coins, problems can arise. There are coins that were made as museum gift shop replicas. These usually have the word COPY on them but of course that could be removed from the coin. There are also coins that are made to deceive the buyer into thinking they are genuine. Again the key is the source of your coin and the knowledge of the one selling it. To help prevent some of these problems this book is a wonderful guide.
Reverse: Gaius & Lucius
Reference: Imitates Sear 1597
The word “Fouree” is the word used for a counterfeit coin. “Fouree” is based on a French word that means “filled.” These counterfeit coins were usually filled with bronze but then covered with silver or gold. Some are of very high quality so it may be that the same workers who made the officially minted coins also used their skills and tools to make counterfeits.
One way to know if you have a counterfeit is that its weight differs from the coins it is mimicking. But usually because of the age of these coins they have lost some of their silver/gold coating and you can see the bronze below. There is a reference to counterfeit coins in the scriptures. Matthew 12:35 talks about evil (counterfeit) treasure. This passage is a call to be pure in intention all the way through and not just “shiny” on the outside. The person who is good treasure is the same all the way through and so goodness flows from them.
Date: after 449BC
Reference:SNG Copenhagen 31
People were aware that there were counterfeit coins being made in ancient times. They knew that one of the most common methods being used was to put a silver coating on a bronze coin. So to protect themselves they would make a “test cut” into the coin to make sure the metal was pure beyond the surface. Usually this would be a rather simple scrape but below you can see one that was a rather radical cut into the coin. The result was, in this case, good for the person doing the test because it proved that the coin was pure silver, but sad news for future ancient coin collectors because a beautiful coin was now damaged.
Among the coins I have seen with this “test cut” it is usually the Athenian Owls that seem to have the deepest cuts. I find the “test cut” coin imagery powerful because it points directly to the fact that value is found in what is beneath the surface. Even though a coin is not mentioned in Matt 23:27 the message is the same with the reference to whitewashed tombs – nice on the outside but… Here the stress is that true spirituality is found under the surface, that deep down to the core we are in harmony with who we say we are. It becomes important that we “test cut” ourselves with an examination of conscience as we would “test cut” our coins to ensure their value.
Ruler: Herod I the Great
Obverse: Table with bowl
Reverse:Military Helmet Reference: Hendin F486.5
Ruler:Herod I the Great
Reverse:Double Cornucopia Reference: Hendin F500.1
It was an auction from a dealer who specializes in Judean coins. The lot was described “Lead Tesseras. A group of 3 different pieces all thought to be from 1st Century BCE. One with palm tree, one with double cornucopia, third with helmet. Average VF. “ I happen to collect Jewish lead tesseras so I was intrigued and sent in a bid. In fact I even won the lot!
In a short time it arrived in the mail. They were not like anything I had seen before which can mean an interesting find or trouble… They looked too “modern” in design and the texture was not like other coins from the period. Hmmm. I wondered, and immediately went first to the book I listed at the top of this section: David Hendin’s Not Kosher.
In short order I found two of the three coins and they are shown below. They were fantasy pieces that entered the coin market in the 1960′s or 1970′s. They were made out of lead and have a white patina. They were designed to be coins that people would probably attribute to Herod the Great. The third coin was not listed in the book but it is of the same design style and has the same patina look of the two I can identify. Clearly it is also a modern forgery.
Well, not exactly what I had hoped for when I bid on these coins but now I do have some great “in-hand” examples of modern forgeries.
Date: 69 AD
I once obtained a suspicious looking Otho denarius. So i sent it away to be authenticated. I chose to send the coin to David R. Sear because he has a very good reputation in regards to ancient coins and offers an authenticating service.
After examining the coin he declares that it is authentic but that the surfaces indicate a “clumsy attempt to remove a heavy layer of corrosion.” Some of the cleaning damage is visible from the photo.
The Otho coin is usually the last one a person will collect when seeking to get an example of the 12 Caesars because he was only in power for a very short time and therefore there were less of his coins minted.
I put this coin in the counterfeit section even though it is real as a reminder that not all coins that look suspicious will be counterfeit..