Brighton cleaner finds "Del Boy" Roman coin with first metal detector

THRILLED: Rob Clements

RARE: The forged Roman coin

First published in News

A Roman coin discovered by a Brighton cleaner was struck at the time of Christ by a "Del Boy" forger who could not spell and did not know one emperor from another, it was claimed today.

Experts say the coin is a mystery because it is made from solid silver and probably cost the forger as much to make as he received in profit.

The British Museum has never seen anything like it and its rarity has pushed up its value from £100 for a genuine coin to at least £3,000.

The silver denarius is based on coins struck to commemorate the Battle of Actium between Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 31BC.

But experts have revealed that the forger got most of his inscriptions wrong.

He crafted his denarius some years after the battle but had a poor memory of what the real coin looked like, it has been claimed.

On one side is a crocodile but it is facing the wrong way and on the other side is the head of Emperor Caesar when it should have been Augustus.

The forger made a further mistake by mis-spelling Egypt. He inscribed Aegipto instead of the common spelling of the time, Aegypto or Aegvpto.

Proceeds from any sale may now be used by its finder, 45-year-old Rob Clements, to study the Romans at the University of Brighton where he works as a cleaner.

Mr Clements discovered the coin lying two inches beneath the surface on a grass path in open ground on the outskirts of Brighton a few months after buying his first metal detector.

An examination using the university's new advanced electron microscope showed that the coin's content was solid silver.

Mr Clements registered the find with Laura Burnett, the finds liaison officer for Sussex, who sent pictures of the coin to the British Museum.

Sam Moorhead, national finds adviser for ancient coins at the British Museum, said the poor spelling "suggests the die cutter is not fully literate".

He said: "Interpreting the coin is difficult. Were it a (silver) plated piece, then it would have been explicable as an attempt to create a coin for profit by using a smaller amount of silver.

"However, why would someone create a fantasy piece like this in the ancient period from solid silver? As such, the coin is a mystery."

Mr Clements, who lives in Brighton, said: "I never thought I'd find anything so interesting and valuable and so soon after getting a detector.

"I would have been thrilled finding a genuine coin but this fake could mean a big difference to my life. I've always loved history but never bothered much at school.

"Now I'm seriously looking into the idea of selling the coin and putting it towards a degree here at the university.

"I hope to study more about the Romans. It's fascinating that there were forgers at the time, some, it seems, who were not very bright.

"I've always been a fan of Only Fools and Horses and it's amazing that I've connected with a Del Boy who lived 2,000 years ago."

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:49am Wed 3 Nov 10

Spanners says...

just a thought but stolen, easily recognisable silverware might have been difficult to shift. But if the theif melted items down and forged coins from it then this would be much easier to profit from? A theif and a blacksmith could probrably have been onto a nice little earner
just a thought but stolen, easily recognisable silverware might have been difficult to shift. But if the theif melted items down and forged coins from it then this would be much easier to profit from? A theif and a blacksmith could probrably have been onto a nice little earner Spanners
  • Score: 0

12:16pm Wed 3 Nov 10

Stripes says...

Good on him and what a great way to put the money to use.
Good on him and what a great way to put the money to use. Stripes
  • Score: 0

1:41pm Wed 3 Nov 10

fascinator says...

and how great that the Argus had a photographer on hand when the lucky chap made his find! Photo-journalism at its best, i'd say.
and how great that the Argus had a photographer on hand when the lucky chap made his find! Photo-journalism at its best, i'd say. fascinator
  • Score: 0

1:53pm Wed 3 Nov 10

Jo Wadsworth says...

fascinator wrote:
and how great that the Argus had a photographer on hand when the lucky chap made his find! Photo-journalism at its best, i'd say.
That picture was supplied to us by the University of Brighton. I suspect it may have been staged ;)
[quote][p][bold]fascinator[/bold] wrote: and how great that the Argus had a photographer on hand when the lucky chap made his find! Photo-journalism at its best, i'd say.[/p][/quote]That picture was supplied to us by the University of Brighton. I suspect it may have been staged ;) Jo Wadsworth
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree