World of Coins

Modern European coins except the euro => Germany => Topic started by: Kubedu on August 21, 2020, 07:06:56 PM

Title: 1876 - 10 Pfennig Coin with Object Embedded (?)
Post by: Kubedu on August 21, 2020, 07:06:56 PM
Hey there,

I recently acquired a 1876 10 pfennig coin that isn't in great condition, but has an interesting plug or object embedded in it. It looks like a piece of nickel or lead was pressed into the center, worn to the approximate age of the coin.
I believe I've seen coins from different eras and countries with something similar, but I'm curious whether someone has any insight as to whether it is a misstrike, accidental, or whether it has some other significance.
Thank you,

Title: Re: 1876 - 10 Pfennig Coin with Object Embedded (?)
Post by: Figleaf on August 21, 2020, 09:48:13 PM
This is known as a plug. Plugs are used in various circumstances. Sometimes they are official and meant to doctor the weight or metallic value. More often they are private and used to repair damage, in particular holes made to be able the use the coin as jewellery.

From what I can see on the picture, my best guess is that the coin was used as a decoration. It was fashionable at this time to decorate objects with coins or deform them for other use, e.g. for making a spoon.

This is the speculation paragraph. :) The wear on this coin is quite uneven. The value side looks pretty good, while the side with the eagle is badly worn. This may be an indication that the coin was worn on clothes, that rubbed the eagle side with every step, leaving the value side untouched. Imagine the coin being a pin, a child's first jewellery e.g. as a memory of the "old country". The maker knew the child would give it a rough treatment, so rather than using the usual piece of resin, the maker dug out a little hole and soldered the pin into it. I am imagining the pin as the top end being bent into a small oval. At some point, the child lost the coin anyway, but it is now in your good hands.

Title: Re: 1876 - 10 Pfennig Coin with Object Embedded (?)
Post by: brandm24 on August 22, 2020, 11:15:52 AM
These type of coins always get you to thinking about the purpose of the modification. I know of a few US coins, early federal issues as well as colonials that were plugged. I'll have to find some pics and post them here.

Title: Re: 1876 - 10 Pfennig Coin with Object Embedded (?)
Post by: brandm24 on August 22, 2020, 12:06:01 PM
Here's the most well known US plugged coin, the Silver Center Cent. These were pattern issues and were never intended to circulate so very few were made. It's considered to be the first bi-metallic US coin.

The reason for the silver plug was to bring the value of the metal(s)...copper, equal the face value of the coin. The plugs were inserted during striking but the process was found to be too labor-intensive and was abandoned. When regular issues were introduced the following year they were struck in 100% copper.

I think Peter's explanation that your coin was used for a decoration of some kind is probably correct, Kristin.

Title: Re: 1876 - 10 Pfennig Coin with plug/alteration
Post by: Kubedu on September 13, 2020, 11:40:46 PM
Thank you so much for your insight, Peter! So curious that the wear pattern is on the same side as the plug - your supposition that it might have been worn by clothing is a good one. I look forward to keeping an eye out for more altered coins. I have a couple late-19th century French coins that are bowed outward, perhaps for the purpose of affixing them as buttons as well.

I very much appreciate the photos, thank you Bruce! That process does seem impossibly labor intensive to be viable in the long run, but so glad they made the attempt.