Caistor St. Edmund – Forged Coin

This coin is in the collections of the British Museum, and the image is copyright of the Trustees of the British Museum.

It was found at Caistor St Edmund in 1978 and was purchased by Charles A Hersh, who donated it to the British Museum following his death in 1999. The denarius silver coin is a forgery, but not a recent copy, but instead made in antiquity. And, because it’s a forgery, the museum can’t easily date it, but it’s probably from around the end of the second century.

Forged coins were a problem for the authorities throughout the Roman period and some people only collect these ancient forgeries. I like that at some point that this was being used at Caistor St Edmund, evidence of a fraud committed nearly 2,000 years ago. Fortunately for my understanding, the museum has also indicated what is on each side of the coin:

On the reverse, there is Fortuna seated on the left, holding a rudder in right hand and cornucopia in left hand. On the obverse there is a Laureate head of Septimius Severus, the Emperor from 193 until 211.

This coin isn’t on display at the British Museum, but neither are 99% of items in its collections. I hadn’t previously realised though that anyone can make an appointment to have a look at one of their items, so they do remember at least partially accessible.