Author Topic: Troubled coins  (Read 14109 times)

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Offline brandm24

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #75 on: July 23, 2019, 10:00:58 AM »
I think you are quite right that the coin was counterstamped, not engraved. I see four counterstamps, shield plus motto, crown and the decorations on the sides of the shield. As far as I can see, the stamps are of equal depth, both compared to each other and within designs, i.e. the counterpunches and host were placed perfectly horizontally at the time of stamping. The grooves were filled with black ink and the black ink in the hand design was covered by red ink. It looks like the ink was perfectly well distributed and did not flow over the lines (perhaps with the exception of the center lower part of the band of the crown, though that may have been a technical necessity.) Looking at the straight lines, it seems obvious that the stamps were professionally made. The only sign of amateurism I could discover is the abandoned attempt to make a hole at the wrong place. This may have been done at another place by a different person, who turned a propaganda medal into a key hanger.

It is not credible that a prisoner, working clandestinely, would have all the skills and access to the machines required to produce this effect. I could well imagine that the skills and machines were available in e.g. Belfast, but not inside a prison.

As for dating, there are some clues here. My best guess would be 1975-1985, making the host someone's "lucky coin".

Peter
There was nothing clandestine about these "manufacturing" programs in the prisons...they were encouraged to keep the inmates occupied.

The skill level I've seen ranges from amateurish to highly skilled, particularly in leather goods and wood working. One man who I've became acquainted with was a former UVF prisoner in both the Maze and Crumlin Road jails who learned leather working while incarcerated. He later started a business with his sons in Spain making hand-tooled leather products.

Bruce
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #76 on: July 23, 2019, 10:34:50 AM »
Well, UDA was officially considered a terrorist organisation. Would they have allowed the prisoners to make propaganda items for UDA? Would the machinery for making good punches, stamping coins and inking (none of it was done by hand) have been available in prison? I have seen leather workers at work. The do a great job, but they use and need light tools only and use machinery (mostly for sewing, sometimes for rough cutting) sparingly. They would have made the design with collections of dots with some lines. I don't doubt that the design was made privately, but I think it must have been made where serious machinery was available for other purposes. As an example, think of the Harland and Wolff yard, where they would have made small metal signs (from "ON", "OFF" to the name of a warship with a coloured emblem or coat of arms) routinely, so the skills would have been available.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #77 on: July 23, 2019, 11:04:21 AM »
It wouldn't surprise me if the equipment was available in prison for precisely the reason that Bruce gave - to give the prisoners something to do and a trade for when they got out.

It would, however, be surprising for the prison authorities to allow prisoners to make items that explicitly refer to banned organisations. But no doubt blind eyes were turned here and there, and probably not symmetrically: clandestine production of items referring to the UDA or UVF was probably easier than for those mentioning the IRA or INLA.

Offline brandm24

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #78 on: July 23, 2019, 07:08:52 PM »
It wouldn't surprise me if the equipment was available in prison for precisely the reason that Bruce gave - to give the prisoners something to do and a trade for when they got out.

It would, however, be surprising for the prison authorities to allow prisoners to make items that explicitly refer to banned organisations. But no doubt blind eyes were turned here and there, and probably not symmetrically: clandestine production of items referring to the UDA or UVF was probably easier than for those mentioning the IRA or INLA.
I've seen items from both sides, but don't recall seeing any explicitly promoting the IRA or other republican groups. However, the meaning of the symbols and slogans would be readily recognized as doing so. It seems that there was a lot of "looking the other way" in the prisons, especially the ones housing the most dangerous inmates. Keeping the peace was of the utmost importance.

The two sides were strictly segregated, so the standards for what was allowed may have been different.

Bruce
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #79 on: August 24, 2019, 12:52:26 PM »
This is the Crown I've ever run across stamped with a political message.

The slogan "You Are Now Entering Free Derry" was first seen painted on a house at the corner of Fahan St. and Lecky Rd. in the Bogside neighborhood of Derry, Northern Ireland in January, 1969. It was in response to what Nationalists saw as injustices inflicted on them by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), Northern Ireland's national police force. As time passed, it became known as the "Free Derry Corner."

The rhetoric was soon followed by the direct action of citizen militias and paramilitaries to secure their neighborhoods. The Bogside and Creggan areas, both strongly Nationalist, were barricaded and declared off limits to RUC patrols. Although this first action was short lived, subsequent events led to the return of the citizen control from August to October, 1969, and again in August, 1971 after the shooting death of two men by the British Army. Many atrocities were carried out by both sides during these periods of conflict.

After failed negotiations, It finally ended on July 31, 1972 when army troops and police entered the neighborhoods in force.

I acquired this coin from a man in Belfast 7 or 8 years ago who had bought it at the Dublin coin fair in 1989. A sad reminder of an awful chapter in Irish history.

Bruce
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #80 on: August 24, 2019, 01:57:38 PM »
The Churchill crown is easily the most common British commemorative. It is easy to see an Irishman taking it along as a souvenir of his employment in or visit of Britain, then souring on the British after his return. It may well have been a one-time counterstamp (the letters are punched in individually on this coin also), so that would be a unique piece you have there.

If so, this counterstamp is a witness to what may have been one of the most important drivers of the violence: tit-for-tat actions that become a vicious circle of hatred and intolerance where extremists flourish. Once that circle was broken (IIRC, mothers of victims played an important role), a solution could be found. I remember a comment from those days that even the Irish could find peace, but the Israelis and Palestinians could not. Decades later, that's still the case.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #81 on: August 25, 2019, 12:54:16 PM »
Yes, I would think this example is unique, Peter.

The Churchill Crowns are readily available in this country too, though usually a bit pricey. It's a big impressive coin and draws attention to itself for that reason. I have an unstamped example in my regular collection.

Agreed, the revenge factor involved here was the driving force that kept the violence alive. I was told of many incidents by my friends over there of the tit-for-tat nature of the atrocities. One in particular struck home with me. Perhaps my best friend in Belfast told me of an incident years ago where his uncle was shot to death in his own home by the IRA. He was suspected of being a UVF man, though the family denied it. The next day two Catholic men were  killed in retaliation in the driveway of their home after returning from a party. Madness!

Bruce

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Offline brandm24

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #82 on: October 02, 2019, 04:16:27 PM »
I've always resisted listing this counterstamped coin in the body of my Troubles collection, as I was never certain if it's meaning. That and the fact that its a 1921 Australian Florin made it more problematic. Were they simply someones initials (I.R.A.) or was it a show of support for the Irish Republican Army?

As time went by, I gradually moved closer to the latter. After doing a lot of research on a possible connection I'm now comfortable with moving it into my collection of Troubles coins.

There were many periods in Australian history where Irish people immigrated or were transported...willingly or unwillingly...to the continent. Some as prisoners from the Nationalist uprisings of 1798, 1803, and 1848, Irish convicts estimated to number about 40,000, victims of the Irish potato famine and its aftermath, etc. The majority as far as I could tell were Catholics, so many would sympathize with the goals of the Nationalist movement in the UK.

For some odd reason I never considered the date of the coin (1921) as of any importance. It was only recently that I made the connection. The Irish War of Independence between 1919 / 1921 and the Irish Civil War of 1922 / 1923 which led to the implementation of Home Rule for most of Ireland. The participation of the IRA was significant in the conflict, so a show of support for them from their Australian brethren wouldn't be unusual. I also place some importance on the placement of the stamps. A typical Irish Nationalist slogan is placed to deface the reigning monarch as a show of disrespect, as this one is.

I noticed some curious markings on the coin's reverse which may be meaningless. A row of what appears to be chisel strikes run from just above the date thru the emu nearly to the rim. I'm not sure if there's any particular reason for this, or it's just meaningless random damage.

Any comments or observations are much appreciated.

Bruce

Bruce

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #83 on: October 02, 2019, 09:55:53 PM »
There is a T above I.R.A. What do think of it?

The marks are actually a direct consequence of the counterpunches. They were struck with such force that they affected the other side. This is less common on bronze because the coins tend to be thicker and because bronze is harder than good silver.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline malj1

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #84 on: October 02, 2019, 11:40:43 PM »
This is also compounded by what is used as an anvil, be it a wooden bench then little damage to the reverse but if a steel block is used then the marks transfer to to the reverse more easily.
Malcolm
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #85 on: October 03, 2019, 11:10:44 AM »
The T above I.R.A. is actually another I. It's the first letter of a crossing counterstamp using the single R as the center of the horizontal and vertical acronyms. You'll see the second A just below the R. These X-shaped stamps aren't uncommon as it's employed as a second means of defacement.

I still think the roughly vertical line has some other meaning. The flat shiny spots are the consequence of the heavy strikes on the obverse, not the line. I also don't think it's the result of striking the piece on a particular type of hard or soft surface. The resulting damage, if any, will normally show as surface scratches or abrasions.

Bruce
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Offline malj1

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #86 on: October 03, 2019, 11:59:55 AM »
Now that I can see what you are referring to, I can see it is indeed the result of striking the piece on a particular type of surface that has some sort of dotted line - - - - on its surface and also an 'L' shape to the right which has transferred to the coin when it was struck with the IRA punches. this may have moved a little before the secondary punches were used. i.e. the top and bottom I and A.

I have enhanced the image a little and also inverted a copy of the image to show these markings more clearly.
Malcolm
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #87 on: October 04, 2019, 10:55:56 AM »
Thanks for the enhanced images. It could be that the coin was struck while sitting on something with these raised marks on it as you say. In any case, I don't think there's any particular meaning to them. I was just curious.

Bruce
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #88 on: November 03, 2019, 11:20:00 AM »
In reply #58 I posted information and pictures in regards to the 1981 Nationalist hunger strike at Long Kesh prison. I just acquired this penny stamped "81" from a man in Lancashire last week. The reference is to the date of the strike, 1981, and struck across the Queen's portrait as a defacement. Nearly all Nationalist stamps are struck across the portrait for this reason. Very few appear on the reverse unless it's a companion to the obverse stamp.

The other two counterstamps were acquired from a man in Belfast about ten years ago. They were part of a collection put together by his late father in the 1970's and 80's who kept meticulous records about the coins. He noted the date and location of each find and circumstances surrounding each.

 Patsy O'Hara was the commander on the INLA prisoners in the blocks and is so noted by the reverse stamp. This coin was found in late May, 1981 on Iris St. near the Army Barracks shortly after a riot protesting O'Hara's death.

Bobby Sands was the commander of the IRA prisoners. This coin was found outside the Kilwee Bar in Belfast on May 11, 1981, according to his father's notes.

Bruce
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Troubled coins
« Reply #89 on: November 03, 2019, 02:25:40 PM »
I remember Bobby Sands. Not so Patsy O'Hara. What a tragic waste of life. He should have been enjoying life, finding his booze limit, dancing with his first girl friend. He's a lesson in how a backstop isn't worth a single life. His story turns me against extremists of all stripes everywhere. That coin is testimony of how youngsters can be led to self-destruction by irresponsible politicians, abounding still today. It is a lesson that is still valid and an explanation of my admiration for Gandhi.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.