Detecting signs of modern engraving of dies: the Haslemere Hoard

modern dies machine sign.jpg

This is a didactic post about an amazing story occurred in the second half of XX century. In 1962 D. F. Allen published on the British Numismatic Journal Vol. 31 an article (available here), titled “The Haslemere Hoard”, discussing a recently found hoard of new types of Celtic staters declared “found in Britain”. In the following years many collectors dreamed of adding to their collection one of these rarest published new types, sometimes appearing on the market. The dream lasted till 1985, when a skilled scholar expert of Celtic coinage, Robert D. Van Arsdell, condemned the whole hoard as a modern creation of a forger trying to create new types to cheat collectors, (first by the fake discovery to be published by scholars, and later, after determining collectors’ desire for those new published types, by placing on the market new specimens). Van Arsdell discovered that all the specimens in the hoard were fakes by analyzing macrophotographs of the coins, spotting clear signs of modern engraving on dies. He first published his discovery on Spink’s Numismatic Circular April 1985, the article was titled “The Hallmark of the Haslemere Forger”. The pdf is is available for download at this link: Haslemere hoard 1985.

Still today some of the fake “new types” of Haslemere are acquired as genuine by naive collectors. Sometimes they are sold as declared modern forgeries, because despite being fakes some collectors want to buy them because “famous” fakes.

haslemene forgery.jpg

At this link an interesting site with more interesting articles by Robert D. Van Arsdell.

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