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Here are three brooches listed for sale on eBay at the same three different sellers.

Or are they actually the same seller?

Are they all fake?

Or do these sellers have a source in common?

Has a small find of such brooches come onto the market?

If so, where are the others?


This one in bronze is described as "RARE" , 2nd/3rd century 35mm.




And this one is the same size, described as 1st/2nd century.


I must say that the way the photograph has been taken, the background inparticular, tends to suggest it is actually the same seller despite different IDs.

(There is no crime in having more than one ID on eBay but one cannot be but a bit suspicious about the same type of piece being listed like this, at least twice, and with slightly different descriptions.)





And then again, this one described as "SCARCE" and said to be in silver.




There was yet another, very recently sold, but the image had been removed.


These, for which I cannot find any exact parallel, are suspect.



Now look at the back of these....


    By Robert K from the Yahoo group


Although Fibula are a secondary area for me, I will take a stab at this one.


To confirm what I am about to describe, you will need a copy of Richard Hattatt's books on Fibula, where his has very nicely illustrated not only the fronts of the broaches, but the backs as well. There are good line drawings, but are as accurate as is needed for this.

He would have classified this brooch as a type of "plate brooch", in the same family of brooches as the "zoomorphic types" discussed in BROOCHES OF ANTIQUITY pages

224 to 252, and ANCIENT AND ROMANO-BRITISH BROOCHES on pages 158 to 162.


There is one common thing to all of the plate broaches, which is the way the catch plates on the back were made. There are basically two types. By far the most common catch plate is a thin flat plate of metal, orientated along the long axis of the brooch, which has been bent over to form the catch plate. The second type, which is much less common, is a flat plate

of thicker metal, oriented perpendicular to the main design of the brooch, which is made already hooked over to form a catch plate, and has squared  off edges.


In both cases, the plate is part of the actual casting of the brooch, and there is no seam where the catch plate and the main broach meet, as the plate and the brooch are part of a single casting (however you cannot tell that from his images, but I know this from having examined hundreds of these broochs over the years).


Now look at the back of these brooches on the eBay


The catch plates are made from a piece of rounded wire, and the images show a distinct joint where the catch plate attaches to the body, as if it were soldered on (although it might have been a joint in the wax during a lost wax casting).


Looking through Hattat's books, I don't see any brooch, of any type, from any period, with a catch plate like this.


While I do have experience with fibula, I am not an expert them and so there might be types I am not aware of and made in ways different from any listed by Hattatt, but based on the experience I do have, and the reference material in my library, I personally believe that the catch plate on this eBay example is strong evidence that the example is not of ancient manufacture.


If anyone can show documented genuine ancient brooches that do have this type of catch plate, I would certain be interested in seeing the documentation.




And only three weeks later..........



   From Tom on the yahoo group


Hey all- I was looking at Bron's website showing some fake brooches

and they looked awful familiar. Kind of like this.........


It's the same piece actually!

Which was supposedly sold a few weeks ago!


That's the question really, is there a group of identical and genuine brooches out there at the moment....or a master mold from which a number are being made?






 From Ramon on the yahoo group


Here you have  two more. They are very popular.


Images as "bad" as that one, should be considered suspect from first principles!

See my pages on the caution you need to exercise on eBay


The other image is the very same as apparently sold a few weeks ago!


The plot thickens.

But we still don't know for sure.




  From Tom


Ouch! That last one went for $127. TW


It was bought by a seller/buyer with whose indentity is hidden.

I suspect .......





21st October 2005


  • The information above was placed here at the end of June/early July 2005.
  • Only a few days ago rialtos and I were discussing these pieces, having both of us, very recently come across images of similar pieces in auction catalogues where the sale of a forgery was unlikely.
  • I was going to place further information and pics this very weekend, but coincdently, the buyer of one of these pieces above has emailed me today and hence I am not delying a moment more.
  • Here you are: From a major antiquities auction house catalogue in 2004.




I must say, given a) that several of these appeared on eBay in such a brief time interval and b) the generally low esteem these sellers are held in by the collecting community, I am still rather persuaded that these above are forgeries.


However, in the light of this piece we need to take this a bit further.


I will post a message to both the yahoo groups and copy and paste responses here in due course.



  • And here is part of the email exchange I refer to.
  • I have deliberately not disclosed this dealers name. He is here referred to as X




 From rialtos

October 18th  2005


 Vrai ou Faux?

I was nosing around the net and ran across X's current auction catalogue. In it, under the comparatively small Antiquities category, is one of those bronze Roman galley brooches. It's item A-24. I couldn't grab the link because it was one of those Adobe PDF files. I also couldn't compare it side-by-side with the ones you've shown on your website, but to my naked (heavens!) eye, it appeared more than similar.


Yes.....and there is one I found in an auction catalogue, last week, also very similar.


I dont think anyone was saying these were not ever actually was the "interesting" circumstance of several, and one supposedly in silver I think, on eBay within a short time.


I do need to review this....certainly do not want anyone to think this type is always a forgery!


Does this mean: a) There are more legit galley brooches than we thought?



                b) X has been fooled by a fake?


                c)  X is trying to fool us with a fake?

Most unlikely!


I'd always thought of him as a rather devoted, dependable, scholarly dealer, but we all make mistakes (as you said on your website today). Has he made a mistake or have we made a mistake or what?


Needs  further investigation I certainly agree.

I had been meaning to scan in the pic from the  auction catalogue and raise this very question.

 From PcPlod

I was very interested in reading your fake section on Roman brooches, especially as I bought one!

Yes the nice little silver Roman galley.

As well as a keen collector, I am a serving Police Officer and would be pleased if you would forward to me details of other buyers (with their consent of course) I will personally investigate the fraud.

This might be a nice little ending to your saga.


This is getting interesting!




19th November 2005

I emailed the seller of this one several times over a perid of several weeks seeking permission to place the pic here.

No response at all.

so I'm going to show the piece anyway.

Anyone with more information about this type, please contact me.



30th December 2005

Another on eBay drawn to my attention today.

No details about it at all.

Seller has many things incorrectly attrributed and described.



17th January 2006


    rialtos brings our attention to yet another

This supposedly rare type of Roman brooch is becoming quite common.....on eBay.

Yey another!

Interesting slant on this one.

The seller says

A very beautyful fibula worthy of the best collections. This is the other of a set of two identical fibulas from the same site. There will be no more, so don't let this one slip out of your reach. Est. $500-700.



There are yet more of these on page 3 in this section


 From Renate

10th October 07 

FYI stepping through the brooch sites listed on your 'What's new' page
I came across the galley #549 date of it's entry is 21st October 2005.

I've seen that type on eBay several times, but every piece is fairly different from the others.

Two of them are still on eBay with the images included:


  From rialtos

24th March 08


Now they're selling them in quantity!




22nd April 08

First advertised as Viking.

Then changed to Roman.

Wrong both times.

You  will see other examples of this particular one further on in this section.



March 2012.

Maybe because of this page these fakes are not being offered much anymore. In fact they are now offered on  eBay as "reproductions".

Someone is even offering gold plated ones!




The backs of these two suggest that they are from the same factory.


Part of the edges here have not been smoothed off after taking out of the mould.



This one below (and others from the same workshop in Bulgaria) being offered on eBay  with the honest proviso:


This is one of Ten Brooches that I purchased a few weeks ago. On inspection of this brooch and the others I am not 100 percent sure on these so I am offering them at the price they cost me and if they turn out to be Roman period then someone is getting an absolute bargain. Please look at the pictures and make up your own mind and please feel free to contact us either by mail or direct if you have any questions.

I had initially incorrectly labelled the image above which shows the varieties.

Thanks  to David K for the correction and  clarification


STEM-post is the bow; STERN-post is the stern


Here is a Roman galley depicted on a lamp:

(David's website is really  worth ahving a good look at.)


That one on the lamp has a more pronounced stem-post (prow) and is moving in the opposite direction to those on the brooches.

2015 - 2016

These are turning up more often now with fake grime and dirt.

This one  on offer as genuine. With genuine fake dirt?

The other ("Viking"!) is "distressed" in another way.



Now turning up as found in Denmark.

I think not!



Some 17 years after I first documented this type of fake brooch , they are still being sold, mostly on eBay of course.


Here is a new variant with spring.


ALL the very many brooches this seller offers on eBay are rather badly made fakes!

And from the same eBay seller (Though using a different ID) a little while later....


        Go to fake Roman brooches page 2


AND more of the galley type on page three as well.