Peter Rosa BiographyLearn all about our founder, Peter Rosa
Peter Rosa – The Greatest Coin Reproductionist of the 20th Century
Peter Rosa is regarded by many in the numismatic world as one of the greatest coin reproductionists of the 20th Century. Unfortunately, at the same time as his business was achieving global success, coin dealers, followed by the press, went on a witch hunt in the 1960s and began opposing Rosa’s art in the name of forgery.
Rosa started collecting coins and medals at the age of nine, but found that he could not afford to own the pieces that he admired most. At a very early age, Rosa developed an appreciation of classical art, and especially of the art on ancient coins and medals. During World War II he served in the U.S. Coast Guard and made many trips across the Atlantic. After the war he joined the Merchant Marine and often found himself in London. There, he began collecting casts of the most exquisite examples of ancient coinage, mostly from the collection of the British Museum. Many of the casts of Greek Coins were ordered from the museum using the catalog numbers from Barclay Head’s Principal Coins of the Greeks. He continued this effort for many years, and ultimately assembled a stock of hundreds of casts of the rarest and choicest Greek, Roman and Judaean coins. It was from these casts that Rosa was able to reproduce in detailed perfection, the finest of rare and ancient coins.
The Undocumented Rosa Coin Replicas of Early America
Rosa has been the subject of numerous articles and books, including Wayne Sayles, Classical Deception. Interestingly, Rosa’s vast collection of Colonial and Early American coin replicas have gone widely unreported and virtually undocumented. His nephew and long-time apprentice, Charles Doyle, is reproducing and formally cataloging these rare and historic numismatic treasures in a reference guide. The official guide will be available free to collectors and historians later in 2010 via Doyle’s website, CoinReplicas.com.
In the late 60s, Rosa’s company, Becker Reproductions, Inc., was selling nearly a quarter of a million coins in more than 40 countries worldwide. And although resistance was building specifically from coin dealers, connoisseurs of coin art, collectors and even the American Numismatic Society itself contracted Rosa to replicate certain rare and valuable coins in the ANS collection after a museum smash and grab theft in 1977.
Hobby Protection Act Creates Unforeseen Marketing Challenges
The scope of Rosa’s work is truly amazing. Under the business name of Becker Reproductions, Inc., Rosa advertised “Rare Ancient Greek, Roman, Biblical, Judaean, Pirate and Early American Coins”  It’s speculated that Rosa had more than 700 unique coin dies.
Some say that Rosa’s success may have contributed to the introduction of the Hobby Protection Act in 1969. Under attack, Rosa’s unconventional artistry, borne of a true appreciation of history and a love of ancient coins, was upset by obstacles beyond his control. Even before the bill was passed into law in 1973, the numismatic press – Rosa’s primary marketing vehicle – denied advertising to Rosa and others who were producing coin replicas that were not marked in specific accordance with the new law.
As Rosa felt that the required markings defaced the beauty of his copies by stamping the word, “copy” on the coin replica’s face, he began manufacturing, instead, uniface coins and other products, such as copies of rare and historic jewelry and later, belt buckles.
Peter Rosa’s Legacy
Peter Rosa consistently claimed that his sole purpose in creating reproductions of ancient coins was to make the art of the ancients available to the collector of ordinary means. As far as we know, he never sold – either personally or through agents – any reproduction under the guise of authenticity. All of his prototypes came from well published museum collections – and were advertised as such. (Wayne Sayles, Classical Deception, Counterfeits, Forgeries and Reproductions of Ancient Coins (Iola, WI, Krause Publications, 2001) 85).
Employing the unique coin reproduction skills and techniques of Peter Rosa, Charles Doyle established Coin Replicas, Inc., in 2003. He carries on his uncle’s legacy through fine metallic art reproductions of museum-quality, rare and ancient coins.
1Wayne Sayles, Classical Deception: Counterfeits, Forgeries and Reproductions of Ancient Coins
(Iola, WI, Krause Publications, 2001) 79.