The bad side of recycling: the use of ancient coins as a source of material for modern forgeries
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A group of six coins from Ithaca in the British Museum collection has been analysed using a bench Bruker Artax X-ray fluorescence spectrometer on a polished surface. The coins can be stylistically divided into two variants. The analysis highlighted that the two variants are chemically different, with one suspected of being a modern forgery. The first records of coins stylistically similar to the ones suspected of being forgeries are dated to the 19th century.
This paper hypothesises that these suspected forgeries have been produced by an expert forger remelting other, more common, ancient coins. We suggest that the forger was an expert smith and also a numismatist and/or antiquarian who was possibly aware of the most recent studies dedicated to the chemical composition of ancient coins. This paper presents the hypothesis that the forger may have melted ancient coins or other artefacts to produce modern forgeries with an ‘ancient’ composition.