Author Topic: Counterstamped Napoleon III 5 centimes  (Read 54 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. CitroŽn 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/LiŤge, 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.

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