Billy and Charley, Shield Shaped Lead Forgery
William Smith and Charles Eaton were mudlarks who searched the foreshore of the Thames for valuable objects. In 1857, noticing a decline in the number of their discoveries, they decided they could make more money by manufacturing finds which many academics of the day were only too happy to accept as genuine. A lecture at the British Archaeological Association in 1858 condemned them as forgeries and this was subsequently reported in the Athenaeum Magazine. A libel suit followed in which the eminent scholar Charles Roach Smith vouched for their authenticity. It was not until some years later that Billy and Charley's moulds were discovered and these were subsequently exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries.
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