Thursday, September 27, 2012

Coin Collecting/selling: What are Counterstamps and Chopmarks? Part II.


Oriental chopmarks are counterstamps of Chinese businessmen, Chinese banks or Bullion Houses.  Once a coin was chopped, the coin became a Chinese coin accepted as "coin of the realm".  Merchants and bankers chopped each coin they handled which became a type of endorsement guaranteeing its genuineness-not unlike an endorsement on the back of a check that we accept today.  If the check is returned for whatever reason the individuals who endorsed the check can be held responsible for payment.

Most collectors have a coin or two with chopmarks and many refuse to buy coins that have been "mutilated" by chops.  Years ago, some collectors paid a premium for chopmarked coins, considering them to be especially historical and valuable.  Today, the general population of collectors does not understand chopmarks or their historical significance.

Chopmarked specimens exist of all business strike dates and mintmarks 1873-1878.  

Mex Dollars:

The majority of coins used in the China trade came from Latin America.  By decree, China would only accept silver coinage in payment for Chinese exports and Mexico was by far the biggest exporter of coins for the China trade.  These were known as "Mex Dollars" (Mexican Pillar andBust 8 Reales) and later as "Eagle Dollars” (the Cap & Rays). The coins were boxed at the various mints in cases of $1,000 Reales each weighing about 60 pounds for shipment to China.  It was not uncommon for a ship to carry $1,000,000 in Eagle Dollars for trade in China.  This explains the large number of 8 Reales seen today with chops and the scarcity of some issues because the entire output for a particular year went to the Orient!

The Mex Dollars were approved for use by the Chinese in 1857 and shipments began in 1858.  Chop marked Cap & Ray 8 Reales dated before 1858 are scarce to rare.  A nice Date collection of Cap & Ray 8 Reales from 1859 through 1897 is is relatively easy to put together.   There was a period between 1869 and 1873 when Mexico minted a new coin known as the Balance Scale Peso or "Balanza."  Even though some Chinese accepted this new design it was not liked and in 1872 the Chinese convinced Mexico to once again mint the Cap & Ray Mex Dollar.  Chop marked Balanzas are considered Very Scarce to Rare and command premiums.
 Large Chops
Common, usually consisting of Chinese
 pseudo characters or 
abstract symbols.
Small Chops
Common, can consist of abstract symbols such as
circles, stars, and crescents etc.or Chinese  characters.
 Most commonly found on Mexican Cap and Rays 8 Reales.

Test Marks
 The most common usually made with a punch.  Its  purpose was
to test the coin to see if it was silver- plated base metal or hollowed out.
 Edge Cuts
 Common, aimed at determining if the coin was a  plated fake.
Chops in Relief
 Small relief chops are scarce
while large relief  chops are rare.

 Assay Chops
A rare special relief chop made by a banker,
usually retangular containing two or more characters

 Letter Chops
Scarce, consisting of the Latin alphabet.
  The most common letter used was the letter 'S'.

Number Chops
Moderately scarce, consisting of large chops,
 number 8 being the most common followed by5.

Banker's Ink Chops
These come in red, blue, purple and black ink,
 and  can be difficult to find high grade.

Paper Chops
 The usual paper chop is called the "happy  wedding".

Chopmarks with NO SAMPLE PICTURES:

Manchu Chops- Extremely rare, consisting of Manchu script.

Presentation Chops-  Elaborately drawn in India ink comprised of letters surrounded by fancy borders, dragons and flowers  often covering the entire coin.

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