The making and use of counterfeit coins was a particular problem in nineteenth century England. In spite of this, relatively little has been published on the subject. This paper was written as a consequence of research into convicted counterfeiters in the first half of the nineteenth century. As nobody was convicted of counterfeiting in this instance the Holden family fell outside my remit. However, the family’s involvement with counterfeit coins over a period of twenty years and the circumstances that led to it, time and again, are exceptionally well documented making their story worth telling. The Holdens lived in Lancashire. They moved around periodically, sometimes to seek legitimate work and sometimes to reduce the risk of arrest for producing or uttering counterfeit coins. John Holden, the head of the family, claimed that he wanted to cease involvement in the activity and that circumstances repeatedly undermined his attempts. Was this true or was he seeking sympathy and justification for his criminal
The following note arose after a chance find of an engraving cut from a magazine with the caption “John Orme’s Case – Orme broke open his absent lodger’s door, when, on entering the room, he found a crucible for coining and a few base shillings”. With no other information to work with, the search began. The story is traceable to original records, including several unexpected connections and a surprising twist. John Orme of Rainow in Cheshire was caught in possession of counterfeits, and counterfeiting equipment was found in his house. He was found guilty at the Chester Assizes in April 1784. He escaped the gallows twice and avoided the First Fleet of convict transportation to Botany Bay. He died in Rainow in 1805.
Copies of low grade hammered silver coins are quite unusual and when they are released slowly, no suspicion is raised. When die/mould duplicates appear showing the same features the game is given away. This note presents details of an Edward VI fine shilling with i.m. y. It is now known from five different specimens all showing the same flan crease, damage, and die/mould flaws.
In this fifth and final instalment some peripheral topics will be covered. Ranging from the mentions of counterfeit pound coins in the media, to publications, to the response of the establishment, to prosecutions, to counterfeits of the new dodecagonal pound. New data has been added to the table of known counterfeit designs, bringing the total to 122 muled designs and 30 counterfeits with the correct obverse for the reverse. This will not be comprehensive, and is not in any particular order, but hopefully will provide a good starting point should anyone wish to take the topic further.
In this fourth instalment several more unusual issues are presented, essentially a postscript to the second note. The first three pieces follow on the theme of materials and the final three look at unusual die/mould manufacturing techniques used particularly for brass counterfeits that were not covered previously. Earlier articles….
In this third instalment, the brass counterfeit round pounds will be presented. The data is based on two collections totalling 2,063 pieces. Amongst these are varieties with incorrect edges, 76 different mules and two different metal types. It is observed that the number of counterfeits of a particular date bears a close relationship to the mintage of genuine coins of that date.
In the first part of this series of notes, the lead alloy counterfeit round pound coins were introduced. In this note some of the more unusual counterfeits will be described. Ranging from resin coated lead cores to impossible dates to an overstrike on a foreign coin, the pieces demonstrate the ingenuity and skill of the counterfeiters. Though the coins were circulating only a few years ago, all of the pieces presented here are now very rare.
Until the introduction of the dodecagonal bimetallic pound coin in March 2017, the round pounds had suffered extensively at the hands of counterfeiters. The problem began almost immediately after their introduction in 1983. Of the 1.5 billion or so round pounds in circulation in 2016 it was estimated that 3% were counterfeit. Now that the coins are no longer circulating, and ceased to be legal tender in October 2017, this might be a useful time to make some observations about these counterfeits before they are forgotten and lost. The counterfeits fall into several groups and in this first article I will make some brief observations about the lead alloy issues which were typically produced between 1983 and 2006.
Again, along the recent series of Blog Posts regarding modern fakes readers should be made aware of a potentially convincing fake countermark on 8 Reale coins from Jamaica (c.1758-9). While the fabricators of these fake coins or countermarks may have some familiarity with the issues they are copying generally their knowledge is not as developed as an advanced collector/student and inevitably they get one or more aspects wrong which then is a marker for their handiwork. Numismatists must be vigilant and conduct a through investigation when a new variety makes it’s appearance in the marketplace. While legitimate contemporary material continues to be discovered, from time to time, the modern fabricator will use this route to their advantage in placing their modern material into the marketplace. The quality of modern fakes will undoubtedly improve, but I trust that ‘we’ shall be able to find that one little thing that they get wrong.
This short articles continues the recent run of articles on the theme of forgeries; this time in relation to my interest in West Indies cut and countermarked coins, and the encapsulation of such coins.