Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Coin Collecting/selling: What are COIN Counterstamps and Chopmarks? Part 1


from bonanza.com

A coin Counterstamp is an impression struck on a coin post mint signifying a special event which can positively affect the value. Counterstamps were frequently used as advertising gimmicks on Large Cents and other coins while some have significant historical significance. For years they were only treated as curiosities in a coin collectors’/dealers’ collected work. They now enjoy a strong following and demand among collectors not only as relics of a bygone era but also due to the mystique it brings with the possible secrets hidden within the mysterious words and phrases stamped into their surfaces.

Local government officials in Colonial times would stamp their approval onto coins they considered "good copper" or "good silver" or "good gold". Silversmiths and Goldsmiths also showed their approval with their HALLMARK which can be their initials, last name, first initial and last name, or first name and last name. Colonial Gold coins countermarked with the hallmark of a goldsmith are referred to as "regulated gold coins."  An example is the EB punched Brasher Doubloon
1787 Brasher Doubloon with an “EB” hallmark stamped on the eagle’s breast,
representing Ephraim Brasher, the coin’s designer
from coinweek.com
With the Colonial Triangle Trade of African Slaves , the Caribbean SugarPlantations / 13 Colonies Rum Distilleries & Mercantile Trading, there was a SEVERE shortage of circulating coinage in the West Indies.  So the ingenious West Indians countermarked Spanish, French, English, Portuguese, US, and other coins with counterstamps of their island nations. Examples include:  Barbados, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Trinidad, Tobago, Cuba, Bermuda, Virgin Islands, Dominica, Haiti, Grenada, Martinique, and more. Spanish 8 Reales Silver crown sized coins were even holed, with both the center and also the outer ring traded as approved coins!
1813 'Holey Dollar' and 'Dump' - approx. 37mm. & 17mm. -
 made from a single Spanish Silver 8 Reales
from  vision.net.au
In the 19th century it was commonly utilized as an advertising tool by merchants promoting their services (dental practice, barber shop, saloon owner, etc.) and peddled products (medicines, potions, cure-alls,etc.) by stamping coins with these ads which then goes back into circulation. 
counterstamped coin advertisements
from exonumismatics.com
Advertisements for patent medicines were the most popular (OIL OF ICE, GOODWIN’S GRAND GREASE JUICE FOR THE HAIR, DR. KIDDER’S FAMILY PILLS, etc.). Political slogans were also popularly stamped on coins for the same purpose of self promotion. In the US, an example of such is the “VOTETHE LAND FREE” stamp (the Free Soil Party slogan) which appeared on many copper cents in the 1848 presidential bid of Martin Van Buren. Many coins also carry the hallmarks of silversmiths, blacksmiths, and jewelers of the day.
 “VOTE THE LAND FREE” stamp (the Free Soil Party slogan)
which appeared on many copper cents
from  coincommunity.com
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