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Birmingham Reales

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Valued Member

58 Posts
 Posted 07/18/2010  10:09 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add fireandice556 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Is it okey for anyone to post hi-resolution images on the Birmingham 8-Reales contemporary counterfeits?

I don't have any, but I'd like to learn and be forewarned.

What are the key points to look for in comparison with the authentic colonials?
Bedrock of the Community
21182 Posts
 Posted 07/19/2010  03:32 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If these fakes are not exposed, we cannot be warned. Mind you CONTEMPORARY counterfeits are interesting to some, provided everyone knows what they really are.
Pillar of the Community
United States
5328 Posts
 Posted 07/19/2010  8:27 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add swamperbob to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The Birmingham forgeries are a very narrowly defined class of counterfeits produced with the possible "assistance" of the English Government beginning in 1796. They were initially made as part of a failed Wartime attempt to destabilize the Spanish monetary situation in China and the far east. When this attempt ended in failure - the manufacture of forged 8Rs did not stop. They were produced for many years for use in the orient, India and the British Colonies. Some experts believe large numbers were shipped to Canada and they came to the US colonies from there.

The Birmingham coins were also counterstamped with forged punches during the silver emergency of 1804 in Great Britain. The coins with the counterstamps are actually seen in larger numbers than those without counterstamps.

Since this was a "secret" (at least during the War) issue there is no official list of dates that were produced. This fact goes double for the many unauthorized manufacturers.

The list of Birmingham dates and mints that I use comes from Coronado's book "Catalogo General de la Moneda Falsa Espanola". He lists 19 date, mint, assayer combinations which were reported by the Spanish officials in the 1800s.

I also use this list in conjunction with Riddell's "Monograph" since I tend to believe that the Birmingham forgeries ended up in cash poor areas like the US colonies.

The list of Birmingham forgeries in general use today has been expanded somewhat by experts who have linked other dates to the Riddell and Coronado lists. This expansion is sometimes based on die making methods and engraving peculiarities but more often it is actually based on just the material used for the coins. In my opinion this is a very THIN LINK. While it is true that many Birmingham counterfeits were made using Sheffield Silver plate NOT ALL SHEFFIELD PLATE COUNTERFEITS ARE BIRMINGHAMS.

So while there is no absolute agreement on what constitutes a Birmingham forgery I can give you the list from Coronado:

1773 Madrid JP typo 2.0
1783 Mo MF typo 2.0
1783 Mo FF typo 2.0
1789 Mo FM typo 2.0
1791 NG M typo 2.0
1793 Lima IJ typo 5.0
1796 Mo FM typo 5.0
1798 Mo FL typo 5.0
1802 Mo FT typo 2.0
1804 Bolivia PJ typo 2.0
1808 Mo TH typo 2.0
1808 Mo TH typo 5.0
1810 Madrid AI typo 2.0
1813 Madrid RN typo 5.0
1814 Bolivia PI typo 2.0
1815 Madrid GJ typo 2.0
1815 Madrid GJ typo 5.0
1817 Mo IJ typo 2.0
1818 NG GJ typo 2.0

Before anyone asks - typo 2.0 and 5.0 are described by Coronado as:

Typo 2.0 Pieza de cobre forrado con la superficie de legitimos reales de a ocho, de manera que el cuno es bueno. Esto se conseguia limando dos duros hasta dejar un anverso y un reverso en lamina solamente, que se soldaban a un cospel de cobre. Es dificil reconocer salvo en el peso.

I translate this as:

"Copper piece covered with the surface of a legitimate 8 real , so that the appearance is good. This requires cutting two coins until only a thin layer of the obverse and a reverse remains, the layers are laminated to a core of copper. It is difficult to recognize except by the weight."

Typo 5.0 Pieza de estano con chapa de plata. Esta es la peor de todas las falsificaciones descritas.

Which I translate as:

"Tin piece with silver plate. This is the worse one of all the described falsifications."

My Spanish is not great, but I think I have captured the essence of the meaning. But I think the author was mistaken when he wrote the descriptions. I base this on the following lines of argumentation.

I have always wondered why the author worded these notes in this way and I wonder if the Spanish may not have understood the "Sheffield Plate" methodology. To create 10s of thousands of type 2 coins as the note implies stretches the imagination. I think they mistook the Sheffield plate for a lamination made from a real coin. I also don't know how much the Spanish authorities knew about the minting techniques available in Birmingham - especially the technologies that had developed to copy dies. Mathew Bolton's equipment was FAR beyond the Spanish capability and he could easily have produced forged dies using Spanish techniques. I conclude that Type 2 may in fact be simply referring to Sheffield plate with a Copper core and type 5 as Sheffield plates over a tin core.

This is supported by the actual surviving forgeries of the period. There are large numbers of Sheffield plate copies but I have NEVER seen one of the laminates created from a real 8R. If they did exist in the numbers listed in Coronado - where are they today? Where are the survivors? The definition does not match the facts.

The vast majority of surviving 8R forgeries which experts attribute as "Birmingham" are in fact Sheffield Plates.

I have attached pictures of two versions of the common 1792 Birmingham 8R both sheffield plates each with a different Bank Counterstamp. The coins and stamps are both forgeries. The coin on the left is silver over a white metal core (type 5) and the coin on the right is silver on copper (type 2).

Part of note 5 indicates that the copies made over tin (a white metal) were more dangerous that the copper cores, I think the fact that copper shows through faster because of the color contrast is why the type 5 coins were more dangerous.

In general the Birmingham forgeries are VERY POPULAR and command high prices.

I will post the Riddell list later.
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