This unusual artifact provides an important
footnote to the history of numismatics. It is an
ancient counterfeiter's mold, used to create coins
in imitation of the Imperial issues. Since official
coinage was minted by hand, there was
considerable variation in the shape and
appearance of coins. Therefore, a forgery was
less likely to be spotted for its inconsistencies.
The mold was used to shape coins rather than
strike them with dies. The finished products were
probably circulated in and around an army camp
and adjoining towns where there was a quick
exchange of money. Economic and political
turmoil of the late 3rd and early 4th centuries
provided a perfect environment for forgeries.
This particular mold bears the portrait of
Galerius (reigned 305-311 AD) who became
emperor, along with Constantius I, after the
abdication of Diocletian (305 AD).