Counterfeit, Forgery, Copies or False coins

Throughout the time the Knights were in Malta, counterfeit or altered coins were a problem which the Knights dealt with by severe punishments, such as a year as a gully slave or even execution, either way it normally ended up as a death sentence.

I am often asked “is this coin genuine”. Most times I’m able to tell people that it is, or it isn’t genuine, but on some occasions, I need to ask for more details regarding size and weight or ask for a better photo.

There are many types of these coins being sold that could be a concern to collectors.

So how do you learn to identify whether a coin is genuine or not? I believe that by knowing what to look for will allow you to easily spot the fakes. You do this by obtaining information from books and websites. “Buy the book before the coin”! These will show you what a genuine coin looks like and give you information on the coin’s physical characteristics, such as weight, size, edge, rotation, material and so on. It will also help if you know the methods used to make these coins and dies.

You can find all this information and much more in my book “Coins Minted by the Knights in Malta

There are many types of non-genuine coins – counterfeit, forgery, copies and false coins. I have listed these four different descriptions and over time I hope to write about all four types: -

Counterfeit. A copy of a coin with the purpose to deceive for a profit. Mostly contemporary. i.e., Contemporary counterfeit Fiduciary 4 TarÌ coins that were passed off as genuine 4 TarÌ coin and the crudely made de Rohan Cinquina (1790) Carlino (1786) and TarÌ (1786) I have already added a supplement to my book on the contemporary counterfeit de Rohan copper coins. This supplement is available to owners of my book via my website.

Forgeries. A copy of a specific coin, which is usually valuable. i.e., Chinese made 1757 30 TarÌ which are sold as a genuine coin. See

Copies, Coins made to look like a rare coin but not to deceive. i.e., coins sold to collectors to fill a space in their collection.

False. Coins made to be used in souvenirs such as spoons, letter openers etc. i.e., These coins are removed from the souvenir and sold as a genuine coin

Today I would like to talk about Copies. While researching my book I came across 28 coins in various museums that looked too good to be real. Most of these coins are listed and pictured in RS. But they looked different from all the other coins I’ve seen of the period. The coins showed very little or no wear, are not clipped, the designs are centred with the inscriptions and legends perfectly spaced. The designs are also flat. This is very evident on the reverses that have the head of St. John (fig 1). Other evidence is the inscription on some of the coins which was not used until much later, (also fig 1) I don’t know how these coins were made but I’m sure that if they were minted using dies, the equipment needed to make those dies would not have been available for many years after the Knights left Malta. As I mentioned all these coins are in museums, mainly in Malta but some in other museums. Each is a unique variety, and, in most cases, they are the only one of that type. I believe these were made not to deceive anyone, but to be used to fill a missing coin in a collection. Saying this I must state that I do not have any documented evidence of this, I only have information I found during my research.

These are the 28 coins I found. Photos of all these coins are in my book.

John Gatt

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