Author Topic: A unicorn countermark  (Read 59 times)

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Offline brandm24

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A unicorn countermark
« on: April 27, 2019, 12:35:45 PM »
Here's my contribution to the unicorn thread, though my example isn't nearly as elegantly rendered as those shown. Nevertheless, an interesting one to ponder.

This issue has been documented for many years, but no one has yet assigned a maker to it as far as I know. Though perhaps not so obvious at first glance, the unicorn head is formed by the smoke of a cigar burning under it...hopefully a nice mild Dominican that I'd enjoy immensely. The "CT" is applied from a separate prepared punch, though both seem to have been struck at the same time. Little if any wear is evident on the punches, which indicates they didn't circulate after being struck.

Greg Brunk has documented about 20 examples so far, all struck, with one exception, on American Half Cents dating from 1800 to 1855. The exception is on an 1807 1-Real. This would account for the near pristine condition of the counterstamps. These coins no longer circulated after 1857 when the Half Cent denomination was discontinued.

Apparently, these are advertisements for a brand of cigar..."Unicorn" comes to mind of course. Brunk lists a Planter Cigar Factory in New York that sold a Unicorn brand product, but there are others as well. Unfortunately, the CT initials don't fit any of them. It's possible then that CT is the retailer. This is one of those mysteries that at first glance would seem relatively simple to solve. Not in this case.

Bruce

 
« Last Edit: December 26, 2019, 03:59:05 PM by <k> »
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: A unicorn countermark
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2019, 04:06:04 PM »
There's a shop in central Atlanta (275 Baker street NW) called Cigar Times. I wonder how old the name is.

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

Offline brandm24

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Re: A unicorn countermark
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2019, 08:22:27 PM »
I looked into your lead, Peter, but there's no history on the company that I found. It probably doesn't go that far back, but can't be sure of course.

You got my research "juices" going so I had to spend some time on it. I spent an hour or so but had no luck. It did occur to me that during that period of time "segars" was another spelling often used, so I checked that out too. Nothing there either.

Although unlikely, the logo may be for something other than cigars. I'm not pursuing that line of research because I don't even know where to begin. Researching these counterstamps is fun for me so the time wasn't wasted.

Bruce
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: A unicorn countermark
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2019, 08:25:59 PM »
Too bad. I was hoping that it would have been some sort of a tradition, where a new shop picks up the name of a well-known old one that no longer exists. Back to the drawing board.

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

Offline brandm24

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Re: A unicorn countermark
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2019, 12:45:08 PM »
Well that's possible, Peter. I just wasn't able to find any history on the company.

In my initial post I said there were about 20 examples documented, but it's actually about 40. About half of them are struck on 1829 Half Cents, as mine is. Also, Dr. Brunk notes in his reference that there appears to be some lettering or marking inside the cigar itself, but it's unreadable. I could never see any in my example, but if there were it might give us a clue as to the die maker or issuer. More likely it's damage on the coin's surface.

I'll have to dig up my coin and look at it under my scope. Maybe I missed something.

Bruce
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