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What was the use of Fourrèe coins in Ancient times ?

The Pontian

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Unlike e.g. emergency money, such as cast sestertii, fouree coins were produced and circulated by fraudsters.

(There is one exception known from Athens) 



Vespasian, Caduceus
Denarius subaeratus
Obv.: laureate head left, CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG
Rev.: winged caduceus, PON MAX TRP COS V
AE/AR, 2.82 g, 19 mm
Ref.: "RIC 75 var. (legend, bust)


Edited by shanxi
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Good question but unfortunately no one definitive answer. Some were likely forgeries (counterfeiting was invented the day after coinage was). Considering how worn from long circulation some were it worked until some unlucky shopper found that a piece of silver had flaked off and he was stuck with a phony coin. At a time when coins were expected to have an intrinsic value based on coin content this was bad news. Some, however, seemed to have been issued with government assent. Athens at the losing end of the Peloponnesian War apparently issued plated "Owls) as a kind of Notgeld, emergency currency, which Athens may have intended to redeem at a later time for full weight and purity coins. Judging from how common test cuts in these coins there may have been quite a few of these issued and NOT later redeemed. There also appears to have been some  made at  official mints by workers working "off the clock)"using the official dies to strike blanks with a form of plating made right there. In my own collection I have several forrees and they have a legitimacy as counterfeits or emergency money and ought to be part of anybody's collection for illustrative purposes. Also some legitimate coins are so rare as official coins that the average collector may be unable to find them on the market except as fourres. As long as they are so labelled by sellers, and buyers understand what they have, they are part of legitimate coin collecting and a very worthwhile study in numismatics. The Greek stater is from Therion, a colony of Corinth, c. 275 BC. Looking at the fine style it looks like official dies were used, but it is clearly a plated coin, of 6.5 grams, Sear 2302. The second coin is a denarius issued by the son of Pompey, Sextus, in ca. 36 BC. it May be a fourree or, since this was near the end of the revolt of Sextus, it may be just a poor strike with reduced silver. The previous owner sold it as a possible fouree and I bought it for the reason that image of Pompey himself (the father, the triumvir) is actually a very good one. It weighs 3.6 grams and is Sear 1392.

thumbnail_IMG_2452Fourrees obv.jpg

thumbnail_IMG_2454Fourrees rev.jpg

Edited by kevikens
trying to find photos.
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I have very few fourrees, but here's one by a very talented ancient forger, from an issue of C. Norbanus.




Date: 51 B.C.
Denomination: Fouree Denarius. 
Diameter: 19 mm. 
Weight: 3.15 grams.
Obverse: Laureate head of Apollo r.; SER behind; SVLP before. 
Reverse: Naval trophy; Macedonian captive on l.; clothed figure on r., looking on.
Reference: Crawford 438/1. Sydenham 931.

Followed by a Servius Sulpicius from a far less talented celator. I bought this only because it was a scarce type.

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I don't usually buy fourrees because I don't like the core showing.

But I have one I got in a lot, which is in good condition for a fourree. My first photo using my new luxury tripod (16 euros)



Of course, most of them were manufactured artisanally by forgers with the clear intention of using them as official coins.
In a way, in the 3rd century, the Roman empire "produced fake coins" when producing low purity antoninianii, but considered more valuable than good old denarii.

My impression is that some fourrees were produced semi-officially by mint workers. I don't know, but if they were skilled (and they were) and they were not supervised, I think it's not difficult for a specialist to swap the silver planchets with a copper blanchet, strike the coins, arrange the plating and keep the silver planchets for personal use.

Edited by ambr0zie
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