|"Forgery of our king's coins or his
seal is an unforgivable offence." So states the common national law code
(Landsloven) introduced by Magnus Lagabøte
(Magnus the Lawmender) in 1276. Although we have no confirmed evidence
of counterfeiting of coins from this period, we assume that there must
have been some instances. The explicit prohibition in itself proves that
the phenomenon was not unknown.
In 1910, some road construction workers found a coin hoard in Kalfarlien
in Bergen. The hoard contained 1800 coins, all of the same type – the familiar
penny of Eirik Magnusson with the Norwegian
national coat of arms on the obverse.
The coins from Kalfarlien contain practically no silver and, in general,
are struck rather carelessly. These coins must be counterfeit pennies from
the relevant period.
Some popular accounts describe kings as counterfeiters because they
mixed copper with the silver.
In the "Divine Comedy" Dante lets the French king Philip the Fair be tortured
in hell as a punishment for having made adulterated coins.