Not long ago, ebay-sellers that offer replica coins were threatened by the possibility that they could no longer sell Roman (and other) coin replica. Too many black sheep sold replica without indicating clearly to the innocent buyers that what they sold were not originals, but coin reproductions, often so well executed that they could hardly be differentiated from their originals. So the question was raised:
"What are the differences between numismatic counterfeits and legal coin reproductions?"
In the meantime, ebay settled for a softened outcome and created a special section for replica on the grounds, as explained by one of the ebay Guides:
'Forgeries of genuine ancient and modern coins fabricated to trick and defraud collectors and investors are illegal. Secton 2101 of the Hobby Protection Act of 1973 describes the requirements for coin reproduction of numismatic items: "The manufacture in the United States, or the inportation into the United States, for introduction into or distribution in commerce any imitation numismatic item which is not plainly and permanently marked 'copy', is unawful and is an unfair or deceptive act or practice in commerce under the Federal Trade Commission Act. . ." [15 U.S.C.41 et al.]
In the UK, the legislation is less rigid, but good replica producers and sellers check that the replica are as close as possible to the originals, while at the same time there is a clear sign on each coin that what you see, sell or buy and collect is stamped as a replica.
Just last week, visiting Eichstätt in Germany, the Museum for the Roman past, I looked at the display of Roman coins, described as findings from the region - yet, the sole Gold solidus was stamped, hence was one of the coins which you can buy at www.the-romans.net
Again, there are very good reasons for the production and sale of reproduced replica coins:
Collectors and Museums use replica coins for educational purposes to either substitute rare or expensive pieces. Then, scholars, historians, schools and teachers would like to introduce students to Roman numismatics. It is less risky to do this with replica than with originals, and you can still get both the feeling and the right learning outcomes.
Not to forget theatrical productions in film, schools, or just at parties - it is a fantastic possibility to enjoy what people in the past have valued and worked for. And still, replica are not cheap products either. Yes, there are different qualities of replica, but some producers and certainly most of the sellers on ebay provide what people can be proud of, true replica.
Let's finish with the statement of the ebay Guide:
'legal coin reproductions have signifiant commercial uses for businesses, associations, non-profit organizations, and govermental agencies. Legal coin replicas are used in as customer gifts, direct marketing, and fund raising. Some projects require the production of large quantities of legal replicas. It is more economical for a private mint to manufacture these pieces in volume. Legal coin reproductions are often combined with other products. ... Legal coin replicas are often integrated into the designs of commercial tokens for business and governmental agencies. Several years ago, legal Viking replica coins were used in tokens at the the settlement Lief Ericsson established in Newfoundland. ... Today, legal coin reproductions are used as visual historic props in theatrical productions particularly in movies and televisions. Finally, legal coin copies have commercial uses in direct marketing, fund raising, an business promotions in the private and public sectors.'