Two venerable coins that are just too similar

The poor coin copiers of yesteryear how could they ever imagine  we would now be able to share information so well!  I really never suspected a thing either until I asked what I thought was just an ignorant question to some lovely twitter friends.

This RRC 513/2 specimen in the Ashmolean has an odd punch mark.  I’d not seen anything like it exactly on a Roman Republican specimen so I wanted to know more about the phenomenon.  An ancient counter-mark of some type seems to be consensus. (Do you know of similar counter-marks on RR coins?  Please do let me know!)

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But in the course of conversation the eagle-eyed anonymous (on twitter) numismatist known as “Nero Claudius Drusus” observed  that a similar mark was on a Paris specimen.  Even before this Andrew McCabe had observed that the Oxford specimen “has funny surfaces, wavy, thick devices e.g. lettering, odd patina that looks artificial”.

So now we do some side by sides with the aid of Michael Davis:

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And for me it is even clearer on the obverse because I can stop staring at that weird S and actually think about the comparison (Paris left, Oxford Right).

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The reverse die is “Die A” in Schaefer’s archive (RRDP).  He records 4 specimens.  Other examples of this reverse die are known in Berlin and the BM:

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The beaded border on the Oxford specimen is clearly too large for the impress made by the die and must be the result of tooling.

So someone in the 18th century sold the Reverend Charles Godwyn a cast of the Paris specimen (when did that specimen arrive in Paris? That is one piece of the puzzle not yet answered).  He then bequested to the Ashmolean and now as the collection is being digitized and references attached to each digital record we now see the fraud.  Or perhaps Godwyn knew and just wanted a copy for his collection of a rare type and then in the bequest the knowledge of its status as a copy was lost.

 

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