Fraud and Forgery in Numismatics


Recommended Posts

My interests are bit broader than this coin or that slab. Crime is the sine qua non problem of every society. In other words, how a community defines crime and responds to it also defines the society itself. That is true of numismatics as much as it applies to ancient Sumeria, medieval France, or modern Cuba. All crimes are harms. Crimes are harms that contravene legislation. Hurting someone is one thing; breaking the rules is another. In numismatics, we have codes of ethics. The ANA has two, one for collectors, the other for dealers. Dealers are held to a higher standard. When I asked the Michigan State Numismatic Society to create a code of ethics, we merged the two viewpoints on the theory that we collectors all buy and sell. Moreover, dealers, being forced to be generalists are at the mercy of collectors who specialize.

As I point out on my blog:


When the Clifford Catalog was published the glaring inconsistencies were impossible to ignore – except by those who never see the elephant in the room. And American numismatics is house full of elephants. ... Montroville W. Dickeson created replicas of colonial coins. ... Beginning in 1859, numismatists with friends at the Mint had their own 1804 Dollars made. ... Over the holidays 1912-1913, a clerk at the Mint, Samuel W. Brown, struck off five 1913 Liberty Nickels. ... instant rarities still leave the US Mint, including Sacagawea dollars “muled” with Washington quarters. ...

These are not just the counter-trend. Unlike the egregious coins and holders identified in collector forums, the material cited above defines our hobby. Personally, I still enjoy numismatics, of course. Make no mistake about that. However, as a criminologist, I have special demons of my own to wrestle with. Crime is not something special; criminals are not people apart; but neither is morality a matter of arithmetic: even if everyone does it, it can still be wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now