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From Olaf

14th April 07

My phalera here is made of silver, I have no doubt about it. I think the only way to find out if it is authentic or not, is to examine the patina carefully. I would be thankful, if you could put it on your website. Maybe somebody can find out more ?



In the early 1st century Phalerae were often made in a crude style. See these examples from Haltern (Germany) and Vindonissa (Switzerland).



From Peter M


 March 20th 07

A littled help please with these crossbow fibulas.The problem is that is took them down too the Inspector at the museum
in my town in Vejle.

They all looked at them and said they they that they diden't think that the fibulas were real. They said that they were "too nice" BUT, they also said that the normal stuff they look at is much more eroded from the Danish soil.



 From Robert  K

Any time I hear a museum curator say "it is fake because it is too nice of quality" I just have to laugh.  High quality might be a reason one would want to look closer at the item, but is is never a valid reason for condemning anything. 


What you really need to do is start by examining the construction of these fibula to see if they are made correctly, and it is a fairly simple.


First check that the main bodies are cast with little or no decoration (they will be castings, and the question is only about the decoration). 


On your larger one, what you should expect to find is that the fine decorations that decorate the arch were in the casting, but were partially re-engraved to bring up and deepen the details.  But on the tail the notches down the sides were not part of the casting and were cut in later. The ring decorations on the flat of the tail will have been punch or cut in later as well (depending on the amount of patination, it may be hard to make this determination).


Next, the knob on the front of the fibula should be a separate piece that is riveted onto the body.  I can see clear evidence of that rivet on the image, but you need to be sure it was done that way and the image is not showing a casting that replicated this feature.  If the knob is not actually riveted on, the fibula is probably not genuine.

Next, examine the knobs on the sides.  Both knobs should be part of the original casting of the body, but one or both of them should have a small hole on the end, and inside that hole you should be able to see the end of the fine rod that was inserted to hold the pin in place.  One thing to look at, is if that rod end is patinated or not.  If it is fresh metal, it has been replaced.  If there is no hole for the rod to be inserted, the fibula is probably not genuine as there was no other way to put the pin on these.


Next, turn the fibula upside down, and examine the inside of the slot that the pin fits into on the tail of the fibula.  On the larger one I would expect to find a small square hole along the open edge.  Inside of this hole there would have been a small free floating post that could slide up and down and when down it would act as a block to keep the pin inside it's slot.  Only occasionally will you find one with this slider still functioning, but you should be able to see at least a depression where the hole it fit into is (possibly filled with encrustation).  Not every one of these has this device but as a rule the larger the example the more likely it is to have it.  This is a difficult feature to base authentication on, because not all of these had this feature, but it is a difficult feature for a forger to include, and so if it is present it would suggest a higher likelihood of authenticity.


These are the features I would look at first.  Add to that how the patina looks, and the general look of age (which is not the same things as condition), and one can get a good feel for the authenticity.  While getting everything right does not prove authentic, it helps because getting some feature very wrong generally will prove fake.


Looking at on your images, I expect the main body of the large one is genuine, but the pin is probably a replacement (on the image the amount of pitting from patination formation seems different than on the body), but something looks wrong with the nob on the side fully in view on the image, and I will not be surprised of you find it has been either bent or broken, and the fibula has been repaired on the knob.

 As for the smaller fibula behind it, the image is not good enough to tell anything.



 From Shawn


I looked at your images and the x-bow fibulae in my collection. I don't think they are modern copies (but of couse I can't be 100% sure). I have not seen any copies of x-bow fibulae except crude ones.


On the other hand many (most) that are found with pins seem to have had pins added in modern times. Though there is no exact reason to prove it I suspect these ones are in that category.


The real pin would have a flat end with a hole in it.


It was stuck in the slot in the arm and then a hinge pin went through the entire arm including the pin end.


This hinge pin was inserted in one end of the long arm which was then covered with on "onion" knob. Thus most modern replacement pins have to be added in a different way as you can't just unscrew the knob and pull out a 1500 year old hinge pin.


Instead any hinge pin and fastening pin remnants are "dug" out of the slot in the arm, a new pin is stuck in, the slot is filled with some sort of glue or epoxy and then "aged". As a result I am always supicious of ones like you show and more accepting of ones where you can still see right into the slot on both sides of the pin.

Hope this helps a bit.



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