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George IV sovereign – Forgery

This very interesting find came in from Chris Mcloughlin. Its condition leaves much to be desired but there is a good reason why it looks like this.

On the obverse is the laureate head of George IV. On the reverse is George and the dragon with the date, 1822, below. This coin has all the characteristics that it should have if it were a gold sovereign. However, rather than being solid 22 carat gold this coin is made of silver.

So, what is it? Well, it’s the first forgery I have seen of a George IV sovereign. When it was freshly made it would have had a thin coating of gold and could have looked just like the genuine article. The dies are very well made and the coin would have passed as genuine unless it was weighed.

Forgers became very active in the 1810s, The first target was silver bank tokens, swiftly followed by forgeries of George III shillings and halfcrowns of the New Coinage, which commenced in 1816. Most were made in Birmingham by people highly skilled in die making. They are very common and examples are unearthed fairly frequently by detectorists. However, as I’ve already said, this is the first fake sovereign I have seen.

At some point someone decided to deface this coin by putting deep cuts into the surface on both sides. Most detecting finds are of items lost during the periods they were made. However, rather than being lost, I suspect this dodgy coin was thrown away by someone who didn’t want to be caught with it in his or her possession.


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