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Fourree
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Fourree
Fourree is a French term used to describe coins manufactured with a precious metal plating over a base metal core. These coins are also sometimes referred to as subaerati ("copper beneath") but the core of a fourree does not necessarily have to be copper. An extensive analysis of fourrees undertaken by William Campbell in 1933 (Numismatic Notes and Monographs No. 57, American Numismatic Society, NY) concluded that varying methods of plating were used in antiquity, but the most prevalent and successful method was a process of bonding silver to copper with a eutectic alloy -- basically the same as silver solder. According to Campbell, this was sometimes done by wrapping the core with a silver foil and heating to a temperature at which the two dissimilar metals bonded. This process is similar to that used to make Sheffield Plate in the 18th century. Other fourrees examined by Campbell seem to have been hot dipped in molten silver, perhaps after the core was prepared with a eutectic alloy coating. In some cases, the image on a fourree was apparently created by casting the core from a genuine coin. In other cases, it seems that imageless blanks were die struck after plating. It is sometimes difficult to recognize a fourree unless parts of the surface plating have eroded exposing the inner core. There is considerable controversy over the question of whether fourrees were ever produced at official mints. It is safe to say however that most fourrees were produced by counterfeitors who attempted to pass their work as genuine mint issues of full value. Ancient fourrees are a popular collecting theme and particularly attractive specimens have sometimes brought as much in the market as their genuine counterparts. The specimen illustrated here, replicating a silver denarius of Otho (AD 69), is from the collection of Doug Smith.

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