There’s a fake in the latest catalog of a respected auction house—and the owner knows it.
Dr. Hubert Lanz, of the respected Munich coin company Numismatik Lanz, has long been a champion of collectors, whose many hazards include the issue of counterfeit coins. As Numismatik Lanz is celebrating its 70th year of operation, Dr. Lanz came up with a clever idea to promote the company and highlight the danger of fraud in numismatics: He placed a fake in catalog number 164, and announced that anyone who identified the fake would receive a €25 credit toward their purchase in the auction.
Numismatik Lanz was established in Graz, Austria, by Dr. Lanz’s father, Hermann Lanz, a respected numismatist who was instrumental in the founding of the International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN). In the 1970s the company expanded, moving its headquarters to Munich, Germany. Hubert Lanz, who joined his father’s company in the 1960s, moved the company into the 21st century, setting up an ebay store that now has more than half a million instances of positive feedback to its credit. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the online coin-auction company Sixbid. The deeply respected numismatist helped establish FENAP (the Federation of European Numismatic Trade Associations) and has served as president of the Association of German Coin Traders. In the words of CoinsWeekly editor-in-chief Ursula Kampmann, “Ministries stand in awe of him, and certain [of their] decisions [have been] questioned again or even reconsidered at his massive instigation.”
Including a fake in the latest Numismatik Lanz catalog is an effective promotional strategy—not only did it stir up interest in the auction, it served as a giant, neon arrow pointing to the company’s guarantee of the genuineness of its coins. But it also performs a public service, calling attention to the pressing issue of fakery and fraud in numismatics.
So, which coin in the catalog was a fake? Turns out it’s a modern imitation of an aureus of Diadumenian (shown above), which was displayed on the back page. Collectors who identified lot number 237 in their emails will receive a €25 credit for the May 23 auction. ❑