Author Topic: Counterstamped Utrecht duit  (Read 820 times)

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Offline Figleaf

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Counterstamped Utrecht duit
« on: January 14, 2018, 12:40:25 PM »
This one required some research, but the story of the bumbling local authorities sounds so modern it is amusing.

The story starts in 1672, the disastrous year, as historians call it. The protestant Republic was attacked by a catholic alliance, in the West by Stuart England, in the South by expansionist France and in the East by the bishops of Munster and Cologne, both sons and stooges of the Wittelsbach family of Bavaria. Startlingly, the Republic won. The English were beaten at sea, the bishops made an untenable incursion and were driven out quickly. The French took longest, but they couldn't maintain a siege of the country for long. The price of victory was a chaotic situation of public finances.

To repair the financial situation painful measures were needed. The provinces were split on what course to take. Holland, with its large foreign trade, wanted a stable currency. The other provinces wanted a devaluation. Although Holland was by far the most powerful province, a stalemate resulted. Holland broke through by reforming its own currency and banning the coins of other provinces. Other provinces, afraid of a flood of bad coins from Holland, followed the same route. That opened the way for a complicated compromise: the currency union would return. Heavy coins of the old standard would be for export. Coins on a new standard would be better than those in circulation. Coins in circulation in the Republic would be devalued. Non-provincial mints would be encouraged financially to close.

The problem with this solution was that it applied to silver coins only. Yet, there was a similar problem with copper money. Contemporary policy was that copper was for local use only, so it could be dealt with by the province without federal intervention. However, part of the problem was that the disdain of copper coins had resulted in super-simple designs. Some catholic small lords South of the Republic's border had taken advantage of that by striking lightweight imitations, aimed at illiterate people.

On 13th December 1701, Holland introduced a good weight copper duit, withdrawing the old coppers within a period of six weeks. This put pressure on the city of Utrecht to ban lightweight duit coins from other provinces or receive a flood of lightweight coppers that had been circulating in Holland. They decided that their recent own duit coins were of fair weight, so there was no need to withdraw them. Measures were published on 22nd December. Utrecht coins struck after 1656 would have to be counterstamped. The counterstamp could be obtained only on 16th January from 3 PM until noon, 17th January 1702. Copper duit coins without the counterstamp were devalued to a half duit. The short period for counterstamp was meant to let only people of Utrecht profit and lock out Utrecht coins circulating in Holland for a half duit.

The measure failed. Protests were rife and the counterpunch (perhaps a mint mark for large silver coins) was forged. The city had no choice but to devalue its own coins also. That resulted in all coppers, including the new duit coins from Holland, being valid for half a duit only. The bumbling wasn't over yet. It would take until 1711 (9 years ::)) for Utrecht to produce copper on the Holland standard.

Showing one side of the coin only, as the other side is pretty excremental ;). The date of the host coin (type of 1657-1690) is obliterated by the counterstamp.

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