Baked clay mould for making fake Roman coins

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From Brighouse Bay, Kirkcudbrightshire

Postcard of Baked clay mould for making fake Roman coins.
© National Museums Scotland

Baked clay mould for making fake Roman coins

This baked clay mould for making fake Roman coins was found at Brighouse Bay in Kirkcudbrightshire. It was used to make counterfeit denarii in 238 AD. The matrix for both obverse and reverse are taken from two different Roman coins.

This picture shows the side of the mould used to produce the reverse of the counterfeit coin. The coin used as a matrix was a denarius of Severus Alexander (222-235 AD) minted in 222. It depicts the god Mars with a spear and flower.

The system which supplied the Roman army was reliable and efficient. For dealings within the army, and for transactions with traders, money in the form of coins was used. The opportunities this offered counterfeiters were not passed up.

The Roman currency system included the denarius (plural: denarii), a small silver coin, as the most common coin in circulation. Classical historians regularly say that in the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire the daily wage for a laborer was one denarius. The denarius was first struck in 211 BC during the Roman Republic, valued at 10 asses, giving the denarius its name which translates to "containing ten". In 118 BC it was re-tariffed at 16 asses, to reflect the decrease in size of the As. The As was a bronze or copper coin. The denarius continued to be the main coin of the empire until it was replaced by the antoninianus in the middle of the 3rd century AD.

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Online ID: 000-190-001-007-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.1997.770
Date: 238 AD
What: Mould
Where: Scotland, Kirkcudbrightshire, Brighouse Bay
Description: Mould for fake coins, from Brighouse Bay, Kirkcudbrightshire, 238 AD
  • Boon, G. Mould for fake denarii' in DG Maynard. "Archaeological discoveries in the dune system at Brighouse Bay." Transactions of the Dumfries and Galloway Natural History and Archaeological Society, 69 (1994)
    Find in NLS: Title, Author, Title+Author or British Library: Title, Author, Title+Author
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