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THE BILLY AND CHARLEY FORGERIES
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 June 2022
Billy Smith and Charley Eaton were mudlarks in London. In 1857 they began to manufacture counterfeit antiquities. Their creations displayed many significant errors and anachronisms, and some archaeologists were immediately sceptical. Nevertheless, other leading experts were convinced that Billy and Charley’s supposed discoveries were authentic archaeological finds. The ensuing debate resulted in an inconclusive court case. Eventually a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London used subterfuge to expose the fraud. Even after this, Billy Smith and Charley Eaton continued producing forgeries for another decade. This paper explores how the forgeries were made, why they generated controversy, how the fraud was detected and how Billy Smith and Charley Eaton could produce their forgeries over such a long time-span.
- Research paper
- The Antiquaries Journal , Volume 102 , September 2022 , pp. 447 - 469
- © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Society of Antiquaries of London