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PEARS' SOAP and other counterstamps of the era

Started by JBK, July 09, 2019, 08:06:47 PM

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JBK

Hello:

I collect counterstamps (countermarks to some of you), and one sub-section of my collection consist of  the advertising coins that were widely counterstamped in Europe (mainly the UK) in the late 19th century.

The most common design is by far the PEARS' SOAP counterstamp, and I pick those and others up whenever I can if the price is right.  I rarely bid generously unless there is one I know is not likely to come around again any time soon, but a few days ago I threw caution to the wind and beat out another serious buyer in an online auction for a France 10 centimes coin that had been counterstamped with both PEARS' SOAP and COX / CHEMIST / WOKING.  I did not have an example of the COX CHEMIST counterstamp and I do not know if that one was the draw for the other bidder, but for me the dual counterstamps were what made it so desirable.

I love the dual counterstamped coins – they are a testament to how much counterstamping was going on at the time.  I also have the two varieties of the EMPIRE THEATRE counterstamp with the PEARS' SOAP counterstamp as well.

I would be curious in any information anyone might have on these types of counterstamps.


brandm24

Nice to read a post from you, JBK. Your interest in and research of counterstamps matches mine, but you have a leg-up on the non-US pieces.

The Pear's Soap issue is interesting, and even more so because of the additional stamps. I have neither a COX Chemist or Empire Theatre example in my collection. The Empire Theatre, as you know is fairly common (probably 80+ known), but I haven't seen more than a handful of Cox counterstamps. Brunk has documented only 2 examples, both on 1854 French 10 Centimes, but his information dates back to 2003. I've personally seen at least twice that number

For those who don't know, Frank Cox was a chemist in Woking, Surrey. Apparently, he only practiced for one year, as he was listed in the city directory in 1887 only.

The full slogan on the Empire Theatre was "Empire Theatre / Immense Success" The theatre was on Leicester Square in London. It opened in 1884, but had been converted to a music hall by 1887. Immense success, indeed!

I'd like to see more of your Pear's stamps, including the fakes that you've come across. It's always interesting to see a counterfeit counterstamp compared to a genuine example. Thanks again, JBK.

Bruce
Always Faithful

JBK

Thx Bruce for those details on the COX CHEMIST issuer. If he was in business for only one year then that makes dating this piece pretty easy!  I do not actually have the coin in hand yet (the seller gave me permission to use his rBay photos) but from the pictures it appears that PEARS' SOAP came first on this coin. 

I thought that the law in Britain was changed around that time (or a year or two earlier?) to outlaw the circulation of foreign coins and therefore prohibit these counterstamps. Mr. Cox must have gotten into the game very late.  Also, the scarcity of the COX CHEMIST issues that you mentioned might account for the spirited bidding on this one. Unfortunately the seller was in England so I was also bidding in pounds on the wrong side of the exchange rate .

In regard to PEARS' SOAP coins, not too long ago I bought one (from Russia, of all places) that was dated 1885, if I recall correctly. I think it was the latest date on one of these that I had ever seen. 

If Frank Cox was still counterstamping in 1887, I wonder how that fits into the change in legislation meant to eliminate these cross-border coins. Was the law passed later than I recalled?  Did the law only prohibit the importation of foreign coins, and leave existing coins already in the UK free for counterstamping?  Did some people continue the practice in defiance of the law? Did France (and others) change their small denomination bronze coins so that they were no longer compatible with the British pennies and half-pennies? 

Just thinking out load - questions for further consideration and research...

P.S. - there were a number of different punches used for PEARS' SOAP.  People generally recognize a couple (or more?) different type styles but I think each style had multiple versions.  Also, I have identified one variety with a broken "S" in "SOAP".  I picked one up recently; I'll try to get a picture of it.

malj1

The proclamation was issued 25 March 1887 but after an outcry from the poor a further six weeks was allowed for conversion of these coins at any post office.

Of course the directory listing for 1887 was most likely compiled the year before publication as it would take some time to compile, print and publish. ??? No computers then.  ::)

Below see the entry from Gavin Scott, he has two listed only.
Malcolm
Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.

malj1

See also Pears Canteen 2 pence token for more information regarding PEARS with a further link given there. --  see here
Malcolm
Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.

JBK

Thx for the additional details. That really adds some important insight.

malj1

Further information from Scott regarding the Pears company.
Malcolm
Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.

malj1

Scott also gives some details of the varieties of counter-marks used.
Malcolm
Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.

JBK

Thanks for those additional details on PEARS' SOAP. I am still digesting the text, but as I understand it the contention is that all of the PEARS' SOAP coins were counterstamped at the same time, supposedly in 1884 and early 1885, since that is the latest date the author had seen on a counterstamped coin.  (I think I have a PEARS' SOAP on an 1885-dated coin but until I can confirm that we will let that go for now).

It mentions a question about the PEARS' SOAP coins that was asked in the House of Commons on 22 May 1885 and seems to imply that production ended then, either because the task was complete or the process was interrupted by the inquiry, although the law was not actually changed until 1887.

I had always assumed that due to the enormous job of counterstamping so many coins and the fact that different fonts were used, that the process might have been done over the course of a few years at least.  I still wonder why or how they would order multiple punches in different formats (spacing) and fonts if they were all ordered at or about the same time.  Of course, there could be any number of reasons if this is what occurred, but I am only questioning or speculating based on want seems logical to me.

brandm24

I came across this obvious fake Pears Soap counterstamp and thought I'd add it to this thread instead of starting a new one.

The genuine example on a French coin is the standard look for this issue. There are only a few small differences in the punches used to stamp the many tens of thousands of coins issued by this company. Some have a period, some not and I noticed upthread that JBK has an example that shows a broken S. I haven't seen one of these.

As you can see there are so many things wring with this fake that it stands out like a forty pound rabbit. Even the coin used is problematic. All of the legitimate pieces are stamped on French or Italian coins. There may be a few on British coins but they're likely fakes like this one. Laws of the day prohibited the "defacement" of coins but of course didn't apply to foreign coins that circulated in the country. Companies knew better than to stamp their advertisements on British coins.

Hopefully JBK will chime in on this. He really is the expert on Pears Soap counterstamps.

Bruce
Always Faithful

JBK

Here's one that arrived today from France.

It was pretty inexpensive (less than $8 before shipping), probably because it is "inferior" as a misplaced counterstamp.

But, that's exactly why I bought it.

THE PEARS' SOAP counterstamps are usually well placed and this one is an anomaly being struck partially off the coin.

20220603_161234.jpg


brandm24

That's really unusual. All the Pear's soap examples I've seen...probably hundreds of them...are well centered and clearly struck.

I'd like to see the one you have with the broken S. That's a new one on me.

Bruce
Always Faithful

Figleaf

There were only two sizes to deal with: 10 and 5 centimes/centesimi. If on the same size of coin the counterstamp is always the same distance from the edge horizontally as well as vertically, the counterstampers used a collar: some circle shape device that would capture the coin to be counterstamped and hold it in position. If that is the case (it seems to be the case for the two c/s in this thread), the off-centre specimen was struck without the collar, or the collar broke and the poor coin tried to escape.

If there is no evidence for the use of a collar, a sneeze is the first suspect. In all cases, it qualifies as a mint error. :)

Peter

cg5caa37daef296.jpg
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

brandm24

I think the sneeze factor is the more likely choice. :)

Bruce
Always Faithful

JBK

I'd have to agree - a likely sneeze.  :-\

The placements I've seen are fairly consistent but I do see ones where the counterstamp favors one direction on the coin, and I've also seen a few where one word or the other is stronger/deeper. 

Though, I strongly suspect that they used some sort of jig or holder to keep the punch in place.