Ancient Greek dekadrachms are among the largest, most impressive, and priciest ancient silver coins on the market today. That's why they're a tempting target for forgers.

The following are modern forgeries and authentic specimens of the three most famous Greek dekadrachms. Each of the fakes is struck, not cast, made of good silver, and aged convincingly.

Note: None of the coins illustrated on these pages are in my possession.








Athenian Owl Dekadrachm














This Athenian Owl dekadrachm forgery is a copy of a coin c. 467-465 BC that's generally considered to be the most celebrated of all ancient coins. The above fake weighs 36.6 grams, while authentic specimens weigh more than 40 grams (as comparision, Morgan silver dollars weigh just under 27 grams).

If authentic, the above piece in this condition would be worth upwards of half a million dollars. It's estimated that there are only about 30 authentic specimens known, nearly half of which are under wraps with the Turkish government and off the market.















Here's the real McCoy, a dekadrachm weighing 42.13 grams currently residing in the Numismatic Museum of Athens. It was donated to it by Alpha Bank of Greece, who reportedly purchased it for $280,000 from Numismatica Ars Classica. Before that Freeman & Sear sold it for "more than" $150,000. This coin previously appeared on the cover of an Ira and Larry Goldberg catalog. I had a chance to handle and inspect this coin while it was in the possession of Freeman & Sear. Other Athenian dekadrachms occasionally appear on the market, with the most expensive reportedly changing hands privately for $1 million.

The issuance of this coin probably commemorated the defeat of Persia by the Greeks at the Battle of Eurymedon in 467 BC in what is now Turkey. Fourteen of these coins surfaced as part the "Dekadrachm Hoard" of 1984, but they were reclaimed by the Turkish government, and none of these are currently available for either purchase or public viewing.

The obverse of the coin features Athena, goddess of both wisdom and war and the patron goddess of Athens, smiling smugly. The reverse features an owl, Athena's symbol, along with an olive sprig and the abbreviation of "Athens," the city from which sprang democracy and much else of the foundation of Western civilization.








Here's another.







Coin sites:
Coin Collecting: Consumer Protection Guide
Glomming: Coin Connoisseurship
Bogos: Counterfeit Coins

© 2014 Reid Goldsborough

Note: Any of the items illustrated on these pages that are in my possession are stored off site.