Andrey Boyko-Gagarin

ORCID: 0000-0003-4610-3665

DOI: 10.17721/2522–4611.2020.41.9



Abstract: Counterfeit money appears shortly after the invention of the first coins in human history. During the centuries, the government tried to fight with counterfeiters, but who were they and who gave the forge money for their own gain?

Te research of the history of the coinage of the Russian Empire and the counterfeiting was carried out mainly in the focus of the justice legal component, but in the Soviet era there was almost no interest of scientists in the issue of counterfeiting money. In the XXI cent. renewed the interest in the subject of counterfeiting. These problems are simultaneously investigated by experts in the field of numismatics and the history of justice and law. The purpose of this article is to determine the professional affiliation of money counterfeiters, the testimony of which is preserved in criminal cases of historical archives and pages of pre-Soviet newspapers which provides an opportunity to identify representatives of which professions the most often were producers of counterfeit coins and credit notes, as well as who were arrested and detained in counterfeit money sales. The study was performed on little-known sources, most of which were published for the first time. In this article we use historical sources to establish not only involvement in counterfeiting of different people. Known counterfeiters from among the peasants and burghers. It is logical to belong to persons involved in the manufacture of counterfeit coins of those who dealt with metal processing, and accordingly – possessed the techniques of its processing, which facilitated the task of counterfeiting money: blacksmiths, engravers, locksmiths. Forging credit bills required the forger to possess not only metal processing skills for making clichés, but also with the knowledge of printing, lithography, paper and ink manufacturing, etc.

Engaged in the crime process of money counterfeit and in the sale of forgeries were commonly wealthy people, peasants and burgers, as well as most unexpected ones - representatives of the clergy and monks, law enforcement officers and already imprisoned counterfeiters in prison. In archival criminal cases and reports on the pages of newspapers, we also found evidence of involvement in the self-production of counterfeit coins of a city tram locksmith, factory workers, janitors, quarry workers, etc.

Even after being imprisoned, counterfeiters often did not stop making counterfeit coins in prison. So in March 1837, on the report of the commandant of the prison castle in Zhytomyr to the Kiev, Podolia and Volyn military governor-general, it became known about the production of counterfeit Polish 2 zloty coins by the prisoner Yakov Volkovsky, who voluntarily gave a homemade mold. The convict acted in conjunction with a prisoner for making counterfeit coins, Mykola Leontyev, who was taught to counterfeit money by a prisoner for counterfeiting Polish 5 zloty coins, Martin Soychenko. They got the plates to make the mold, breaking the furnace lid in the outhouse, which stood in the prison yard, and the necessary lead and mercury was brought by Jacob Volkovsky's wife, Anel. To obtain additional material, the detainees removed the lead buttons from the caftan of another prisoner Miton detainee, and the real coin for copying was asked by the detainee Stanislav Gurlov, having turned it back to him after the mold was done. To reach the required lead melting point, the prisoners inflated coal in a room near the prison bath. In this way, the prison counterfeiters were able to produce 6 coins, 5 of which were exchanged for overpowering prisoners. Subsequently, the investigation found that the production of counterfeit coins in prison was made possible by the collusion of prisoners with the prison guard Svidersky.

If the production of counterfeit money could be done almost exclusively by those who had certain metalworking skills and knowledge in the field of chemistry, as well as printing, practically anyone could become the counterfeit money maker. On the pages of the newspapers we came across rather unusual and rare reports of detention in cooperation with counterfeiters of judicial investigators – a collusion between the investigator and the wanted group of counterfeiters when the investigator himself was engaged in the sale of counterfeit “stamps” treasury notes.

When attempting to transport counterfeit paper money from abroad, organized groups of counterfeiters had the need to collude or join a group of ship employees.

Key words: counterfeiting, money forging, professional affiliation of counterfeiters, Russian Empire, Austria-Hungary Empire, archival materials, pre-Soviet newspapers.

Received by the editorial board: 11.12.2019


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