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Forgeries, Counterfeits and Suspects - Maltravers farthing of Charles I

The first sign that all is not right with this piece is it's fabric. At about 0.1 mm it is extremely thin. This characteristic also makes it very light and, in fact, it weighs only 0.15 gram. While weight alone cannot be used to definitively say this is a forgery, it is strong evidence. The average weight of the Maltravers pieces examined by Peck was 9 grains (approximately 0.58 gram) and the average of the genuine pieces that I have examined is 0.62 gram with a standard deviation of 0.02 gram (maximum of 0.64 gram, minimum of 0.60 gram) The thinness and weight go together, and this piece could be considered almost "paper" thin. As you can see from the images small perforations have developed as a result of this thin character.

Obverse of a suspect Maltravers farthing of Charles I Reverse of a suspect Maltravers farthing of Charles I

Next, let us look at the legends themselves. The obverse reads · CAROL[V]S [] D : G : MAG : BRIT and the reverse · FRAN · ET · HIB : REX [pm] Both obverse and reverse legends were used for the Maltravers types. The reverse is an exact match for that of Type 3c and the obverse matches exactly one of the variants for Type 3b. The problem lies with the privy mark which is found only on the reverse, unless the · at the start of the obverse legend is to be considered the privy mark, a suggestion which carries its own problems.

The Maltravers type is broken into three sub-types based upon the privy mark locations. The first type (3a) carries the mark on the obverse only. The second type (3b) has the same privy mark on the obverse and on the reverse, and the third type (3c) has a different mark on the obverse than on the reverse. A logical further permutation would be for simply a mark on the reverse only, as this piece has. So, this coin's privy mark layout would not necessarily condem the coin utterly.

The privy mark on the reverse after REX is either a trefoil or a cross patée. Trefoil and lis, according to Peck, have been recorded, but he suggests that a cross patée placed in saltire could easily be interpreted as one of the other two. The mark on the reverse of this coin is very probably such a cross patée.

The cross patée was used exclusively on type 3b, a cross patée fitchée was used on type 3c, but the latter mark has the bottom limb of the cross pointed, whereas this piece is clearly straight.

Let's now compare this piece to a known genuine Maltravers.

Obverse of a suspect Maltravers farthing of Charles I Obverse of a genuine Maltravers farthing of Charles I

Note the additional detail on the crown on the right. The jewels on the circlet are very evident whereas on the left piece they are not discernable, and this is not from wear. The pearls on the arch of the crown on the right continue along the full length of the arch, whereas the piece on the left has only two on each side, the ones between the scepters and the top cross are missing. This is not from wear, they simply have been omitted.

Reverse of a suspect Maltravers farthing of Charles I Reverse of a genuine Maltravers farthing of Charles I

The characteristics on the reverse do even more to harm the credibility of the left piece. The crown is very crude. The upper arch on the left is far from symmetric with the corresponding arch on the right. The arc has nowhere near the smoothness of that on the coin on the right. The jewels on the circlet are again missing. Note also the incomplete inner circle at the bottom below the harp, and also the crude nature of the beads that make up the circle when compared to the coin on the right. Finally, the harp itself is extremely crude and with portions missing, notably the top part of the scroll at the upper right. The front has become highly stylized, as well.

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