Mystery surrounds silver coin find
Published 03/11/2010 | 12:19
A Roman coin discovered by a 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 has been claimed.
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 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.
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.
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 in East Sussex 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.