Author Topic: Counterstamped Napoleon III 5 centimes  (Read 204 times)

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Offline Henk

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Counterstamped Napoleon III 5 centimes
« on: July 12, 2019, 08:06:45 PM »
I have a 5 centimes of Napoleon III, 1854A with a heavaly counterstamped with FOERT on the head. FOERT is a Flemish word meaning: "go away". 

Probably this countermark was applied after the French-Prussian War in 1870-1871 which was the end of reign of Napoleon III who went into exile in the UK. Many coins were counterstamped or mutilated at that time. E.g. stamped with SEDAN, the site of a desastrous battle (for the french) where Napoleon III was taken prisoner of the head of Napoleon III engraved with a prussian helmet. What is odd however that the counterstamp is Flemish (Dutch) and not in French. Maybe it was applied in the North of France.

Any ideas about this counterstamp will be appreciated!

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counterstamped Napoleon III 5 centimes
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2019, 10:27:57 AM »
You have already done the research. Yes, foert is a Flemish word and it has not penetrated into French ("oe" is a tongue-twister in French, e.g. Citroën was of course originally Citroen and Dutch). Its connotation is negative, an exclamation of irritation and it can easily be used in a political context. Its closest equivalent in Dutch may be "vort", an exhortation for a horse to start walking or an irritating animal (sometimes a child) to go away.

The host has an international history. Though it wasn't legal tender outside France, it circulated widely in the neighbouring countries under the influence of the Latin Monetary Union (LMU). Since Belgium was a member of the LMU and the rate of exchange of the Belgian and French franc was 1:1, it would have been natural for the host to be accepted at face throughout Belgium. Note that the Netherlands was not a LMU member.

The Flemish had good reasons to be wary of the Walloons. Especially in Brussels and Luik/Ličge, there was constant pressure to have Belgium annexed by France, much resented e.g. in Gand/Gent (the history of the university of Gent is a good example) and Antwerpen/Anvers. The Flemish, their culture and their language were aggressively discriminated, if not repressed. Their favourite political choice, socialism, was actively opposed by the French-speaking Roman catholic church.

In view of the above, I can easily see how the "invasion" of French coins would have irritated the Flemish. Since the counterpunches are neat, but only relatively well aligned, they are likely to have been made by tools used in a workshop or factory, where Walloons would have ruled and the workers using the tools would have been Flemish. A word the Walloons would not have understood would have been perfect to express their frustration in safety. This coin would have provided some innocent merriment for the oppressed at the expense of their oppressors, I think.

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

Offline Henk

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Re: Counterstamped Napoleon III 5 centimes
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2019, 09:46:55 AM »
Thanks for your interesting comments. I doubt however that the counterstamp was directed against the French coin I feel it was directed against the person of Napoleon III and his policies e.g. the war he started and lost.

I recently aquired a 1856 W 10 centimes, with the head of Napoleon remodelled by engraving so that he looks like the devil! I think this also belongs to the series of satirical pieces on Napoleon III coins made after the French Prussian war. Most of the engraved coins, having a Prussian helmet added to the head of Napoleon others being stamped with "SEDAN".

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Counterstamped Napoleon III 5 centimes
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2019, 03:05:10 PM »
You have already done the research. Yes, foert is a Flemish word and it has not penetrated into French ("oe" is a tongue-twister in French, e.g. Citroën was of course originally Citroen and Dutch). Its connotation is negative, an exclamation of irritation and it can easily be used in a political context. Its closest equivalent in Dutch may be "vort", an exhortation for a horse to start walking or an irritating animal (sometimes a child) to go away.

Is it related to Afrikaans voetsak, which means more or less the same thing?

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counterstamped Napoleon III 5 centimes
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2019, 07:32:43 PM »
Sorry. Never heard of that word before. Ik looks like a combination of voet (foot) and zak (bag, Afrikaners often use an s where a Dutchman would use a z).

In Dutch, voetenzak is an archaic way to keep your feet warm which stops you from walking. There may or may not be a connection with the exclamation "hort sik", that was used by children whose parents could afford a small cart pulled by a goat to express the child's wish that the goat starts pulling their toy cart.

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

Offline bagerap

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Re: Counterstamped Napoleon III 5 centimes
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2019, 08:12:25 PM »
The Afrikaans imperative does have the same meaning, but puts it more bluntly.

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Counterstamped Napoleon III 5 centimes
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2019, 07:44:11 AM »
I looked up the origins of voetsak later. It is a combination of (excuse the spelling) "voert sag ik" or similar, where "voert" means precisely what is discussed at the top of the thread, so it's "go away, I say".