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Forgery: Modus operandi (British History)
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Wile E. Coyote


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I was hoping you'd take that as a sign-off.


Thank you. Sensei.
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Mick Harper
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Don't call me 'sensei' in the office, we don't want tongues wagging. Hatty's tongue is wagging about sagas down among the New Concepts in the Legends thread.
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Mick Harper
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A great little theory here https://stolenhistory.net/threads/the-church-inquisition-did-not-persecute-people-but-counterfeit-coins.5472/

Basically it argues that the Inquisition (though I think he means witch-finding generally -- the dude is Russian and doesn't understand our little ways) was nothing to do with heresy or witchcraft. Instead they were the people charged with combating the international crime (because trade was international) of counterfeiting coins.

If you think about it -- as I did for the first time -- this is absolutely basic to a pre-modern economy. You can't have exchange unless you trust the means of exchange and you can't have any kind of economy without a means of exchange. But it was done under the cloak of heresy hunts. Anyway, you can read all about it.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Bravo. I can use this.

Still it's not about counterfeit coins, it's about how and why currency reproduces itself (the production of new images and legends), and how it replaces older currency. This is why witches are buried alive, they are coin hoards.
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Mick Harper
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You must have been reading a different paper.
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Wile E. Coyote


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No, the same paper differently.
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Boreades


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As Eric Morcambe might have said, it's all the right words, but not necessarily in the right order.
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Mick Harper
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One way in which we differ from our colleagues on the light side are in our respective treatment of runes. They assume the presence of a rune is diagnostic of ancientness, we assume it betokens a modern fake. Have a look at this intro sent to me (randomly but guidedly) by academia.edu.

Runic inscriptions are of interest not only as evidence of language and literacy in early medieval England, but also of the cultural functions of the objects on which they appear.

So, it's the old one-two -- or as we would say with a snarl, "It's not one input/one output." Here they are using the rune to establish it is early medieval (what we and everyone else calls The Dark Age) plus as a method of interpreting the medium. And we haven't even come to what the rune actually says yet! One input/three outputs?

In this paper, we present three case studies to examine the ways in which runic writing was used to commemorate the dead in Anglo-Saxon England:

We're coming pretty close now to one input/four outputs if runes were used to commemorate the dead.

a cremation urn from Loveden Hill, Lincolnshire

OK, I'll give you that one provisionally
the wooden coffin of Saint Cuthbert

I won't be giving you that one. A wooden coffin that lasted a hundred years after the treatment ol' Cutho received, never mind a thousand, is quintessentially a fake.

and a carved memorial stone from Great Urswick, Cumbria.

Ah yes, the crunch...
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Mick Harper
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You see, runes are basically only found on stones, which presents an insoluble dating problem. The stone can't be carbon dated (no carbon); it can't be archaeologically dated (it's above ground so no stratum); and the inscription can't be dated (anyone can have done it at any time). You can see why they're so damned useful. As the authors, Lilla Kopár and Martin Findel, put it

Our study highlights the diversity of rune-inscribed objects in their material and function, from containers for human remains to monuments on public display.

No, dear hearts, that's pretty much just one use (the monuments are normally funerary) and it's a pretty damn exclusive one given what normal writing systems can get up to. Sorry, but using the word 'diversity' in this context is just plain silly.

In each case we discuss the linguistic problems of the text and the relationship of the inscription to the object and its find context, before turning to a broader examination of the role of inscribed objects in the act of commemoration and the question of the choice of runic over the Roman script.

Honestly, honey buns, if it's an act of commemoration (and it seems that's all runes were used for) then surely you would want to write it in something everyone can either read or get someone else to read i.e. Latin. It's like me being entombed in St Paul's with an inscription Here lies M J Harper, the Greatest Optimist of his Age if he thinks he's getting in here only they've done it in cyrillic lettering.

Do not be affeared, I've clearly stated 'runes' on the form they send all of us Grand Old Men when we're getting to be Grand Older Men.
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Mick Harper
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Another wondrous intro sent me by academia.edu ['A Book in Stone': The Interaction between Manuscript Culture and Runic Epigraphy by Catrin Haberfield]

The implementation and effect of runes in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts is rarely considered in tandem with other Anglo-Saxon runic objects.

Yes, it is odd, isn't it? I can't imagine it happening with any other written script. The world of runes has been a bit unlucky there.

I argue that similar approaches and conventions, such as the consideration of appearance on the ‘page’ and the exploitation of the space available, are also found in runic epigraphy.

Substitute any actual written script for 'rune' and this becomes even more academesically gobblededooky than usual.

This dissertation examines how conventions of manuscript culture are also found in runic epigraphy, focalised through the case studies of the Ruthwell Cross, Franks Casket, St Cuthbert’s Coffin, and the Jelling runestones.

Good luck with that. The people doing the runic epigraphy were also 'examining the conventions of manuscript culture' so you might find yourself in somebody else's hall of mirrors.
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Mick Harper
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The first law of runic studies … ‘for every inscription there shall be as many interpretations as there are runologists studying it’.
R.I. Page, An Introduction to English Runes

Always something of a handicap in a writing system. But as the creators of the Voynich Manuscript discovered, there are tremendous advantages in making sure it is all things to all men.
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Mick Harper
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We have noticed that Victorian commentators are often a lot more fly about things than their modern counterparts so I was intrigued to be notified about this

FORGERY AS A PROFESSION. Robert A. Pinkerton
Source: The North American Review , Apr., 1894, Vol. 158, No. 449 (Apr., 1894), pp. 454- 463
Published by: University of Northern Iowa Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/25103313

Not being a forger myself I have had to rely on Hatty for technical details so she will recognise this

A professional forgery gang consists of: First, a capitalist or backer; second, the actual forger, who is known among his associates as the "scratcher"; third, the man who acts as confidential agent for the forger, who is known as the "middle man" or the "go-between"; fourth, the man who presents the forged paper at the bank for payment, who is known as the "layer down" or "presenter."

More tips later.
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Mick Harper
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Many banks on whom forgeries have been perpetrated are unwilling to incur the expense of hunting down forgers, for fear the matter should become public and thereby hurt their standing or reflect on their business management. For this reason they frequently suppress the facts and charge the forgeries to profit and loss.

How much worse is the situation with museums and antiquities where the basic problem is that there is no 'profit and loss'. Forged banknotes come to light sooner or later and whoever is holding them when the music stops, usually the banks, suffers the loss. Not only do the banks have a vested interest in vigilance, the government is on the case because the entire population suffers from an unsafe currency.

It is all the other way round with antiquities. Forged antiquities are almost never exposed because museums, governments and the people will all suffer when they are. Sure, the world might suffer from an unsafe history if they aren't but that's water under the bridge.
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Mick Harper
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Here is a hilarious example of academics stumbling on the truth and then stumbling out again. It is our presumption that all the 'sagas' are later inventions. Here's a choice example
The Legacy of the Decameron in Iceland
Roberto Luigi Pagani, University of Iceland

What's an Italian academic doing in Iceland? Who knows but he's put his time to good effect

In 1862, the Icelandic librarian, museum curator, and author Jón Árnason, published a monumental collection of traditional Icelandic folktales, Íslenzkarþjóð-sögurogævintýri, “Icelandic Folk Tales and Fairy Tales”.

We would probably assume that means they are of mid-nineteenth century vintage. Orthodoxy has it different

A number of these are centred around the nunnery of Kirkjubæ- jarklaustur, in the south-east of the country, which had been founded in 1186

but could be as late as

and dissolved after 1550, following the Lutheran Reformation.

Our Italian scholar plumps for quite the wrong end for those naughty nuns' reading matter

One such story seems to borrow the nucleus of its plot from one of the most famous of Boccaccio’s novellas, one which is still frequently read in Italian schools.

But it's OK. Apparently there's a common source out there that goes back all the way to ... wherever it's needed.
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Wile E. Coyote


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One such story seems to borrow the nucleus of its plot from one of the most famous of Boccaccio’s novellas, one which is still frequently read in Italian schools.

But it's OK. Apparently there's a common source out there that goes back all the way to ... wherever it's needed.

Presumably the source is The Decameron, which is also the source of The Canterbury tales and so on.

I am not going on a deep textual analysis, I just looked at the title of his book.

The Legacy of the Decameron in Iceland
Roberto Luigi Pagani, University of Iceland

Damn. Tales from the Thousand and One Nights is the real source. Until someone googles an earlier one. Hey, I got it back further than Pagani.
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