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During the middle of the 19th century, London’s antiquarian market was flooded by the sudden arrival of a large number of supposedly mediaeval leaden artifacts of unknown origin. Questions about the authenticity of the items were raised, but the general consensus was that they were real. The objects were eventually revealed to be forgeries made by two lowly criminals with no background in either history or archaeology. In fact, they were illiterates. As expected, their products were also inept and crude. What’s embarrassing was how readily some of the most authoritative medievalists of Victorian London fell for the slipshod workmanship. Known as Shadwell forgeries these medieval-looking medallions, amulets and coins with nonsensical inscription and jumbled numeration were today’s equivalent to phishing emails with incorrect spellings and grammar.

Shadwell Forgeries


© Amusing Planet, 2019.



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