Author Topic: Overview countermarked on Szechuan Rupees  (Read 110 times)

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Offline Gusev

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Overview countermarked on Szechuan Rupees
« on: January 11, 2021, 09:55:50 AM »
       At the beginning of the article, it will be helpful to define the term - countermarked on coins.
      A countermarked coin is a coin that has had some additional mark or symbol punched into it at some point after it was originally produced while in circulation.
      Experts recommend not to use the term countermark and counterstamp as synonyms, but in different contexts. A counterstamp is applied by a die, and by machine to an existing coin, while a countermark is punched onto the coin, mostly by hand, using a punch and a hammer or a primitive hand-operated machine.
      Often countermarks are applied by private persons, which were punched - money changers, bankers or shroffs. In contrast the use of counterstamps should be authorized by a local or national Government.

        During the last decades of the 19th century the India rupee with the portrait of Queen Victoria (Photo 1) became means of exchange and currency in Tibet.   Most traders preferred it to the local tangka coinage or to the silver from China which also circulated in Tibet.
        The Indian rupee had the advantage of having a guaranteed fineness (.917 silver) and weight (1 tola = 11.66 g). The Chinese authorities of Szechuan Province, through which most of the tea exported to Tibet passed, felt somewhat-uncomfortable about the widespread use of a foreign coin in Tibet. The vice king of Szechuan, Chun-Hsuen, issued regulations re­ garding control of the Indian rupee and in 1904 the Chengdu mint began to issue a "rupee" which very closely resembled the Indian "Victoria rupee" which, it was hoped, it would soon replace in Tibet. Victoria's bust was replaced by that of the Chinese emperor Kuangh-hsu. This new rupee is known among collectors as Szechuan rupee and was minted till about 1942 with different types of obverse:
1. Small bust without collar (Photo 2).
2. Small bust with collar (Photo 3).
3. Large bust with collar (Photo 4 and 5).
         Interestingly, the portrait of the emperor does not look very solid on coins of late minting, and sometimes we see just a caricature of the portrait of the emperor (I plan to conduct a study of these portraits in a separate article)..
        The silver content Szechuan rupees was gradually depressed in course of the min ting from different places during the long period of 40 years. It was stated as 80-90% silver for the "small bust without collar", 60% for the next issue "small bust with collar", and 10-60% for the last issue "large bust”.
   Naturally, most of the countermarked Szechuan rupees are of type "large bust without collar", which are the pieces with the lowest silver content.

         Since most of the countermarked coins which showing in this article are fairly common without countermarks, we cannot exclude the possibility that some of the countermarks which we list below, may be modern forgeries or fantasies, created to increase the collector value of an otherwise common coin. 
         So far we do not have a method which allow us to distinguish forgeries or fantasies from genuine countermarks.

Countermarked on Szechuan Rupees can be divided into the following types:

1. Countermarks in Tibetan script:
2. Countermarks in Chinese + Tibetan script:
3. Countermarks in Chinese script:
4. Countermarks in Western script.
5. Several countermarks on the coin.
"Those at the top of the mountain didn't fall there."- Marcus Washling.

Offline Gusev

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Re: Overview countermarked on Szechuan Rupees
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2021, 09:57:33 AM »
1. Countermarks in Tibetan script:

Photo 6.
The Tibetan character “sa” which means “earth” or “land”. It is not known which local authority is responsible for this countermark.
One may presume that it originated in an important Tibetan monastery. Many Tibetan monasteries acted among others as money lending institutions. It is possable that some of the countermarks found on Sichuan rupees, such as the mark “sa”, were applied to coins of low silver content before they were handed out as credit. By applying a countermark to the coins the monastery probably guaranteed that it would take back the coins thus chopped at their full face value.

Photo 7.
Countermark “bod” (meaning: “Tibet”) in Tibetan script. This mark was unknown until it made its appearance in July 2010 in ebay (some doubts regarding the authenticity of this mark).

Photo 8 and 9.
This mark can be read as "rnam". This syllable is known from the inscription on most Tibetan coins in the word "rnam-gyal", meaning "all victorious".
"Those at the top of the mountain didn't fall there."- Marcus Washling.

Offline Gusev

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Re: Overview countermarked on Szechuan Rupees
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2021, 09:58:33 AM »
2. Countermarks in Chinese + Tibetan script:

Photo 10 and 11.
   Li Yung Lam (reading from right to left). The chopmark consists of the two first Chinese characters (from right to left) meaning "Yung" = "for use", "Li" = "Li (tang)" and a Tibetan syllable "lam" which presumably refers to "Lama".
Hence the whole countermark means something like "For use by the lama(s) of Li(tang)". Rupees with this countermark are quite common.
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"Those at the top of the mountain didn't fall there."- Marcus Washling.

Offline Gusev

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Re: Overview countermarked on Szechuan Rupees
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2021, 09:59:49 AM »
3. Countermarks in Chinese script:

Photo 12 and 13. The meaning of this character is "production" or "manufacture".

Photo 14 and 15. I cannot read these hieroglyphs.
"Those at the top of the mountain didn't fall there."- Marcus Washling.

Offline Gusev

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Re: Overview countermarked on Szechuan Rupees
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2021, 10:01:12 AM »
4. Countermarks in Western script.

Photo 16. Numeric “3”.
Photo 17. Numeric “4”.
Photo 18. Numeric “5”.
Photo 19. Word ”one”.
"Those at the top of the mountain didn't fall there."- Marcus Washling.

Offline Gusev

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Re: Overview countermarked on Szechuan Rupees
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2021, 10:02:05 AM »
5. Several countermarks on the coin.

There are a variety of combinations of different countermarks - “5 + 5”, “5 + one”,   “4 + Li Yung Lam”, “5 + Li Yung Lam”, “Sa + Li Yung Lam”.
I have images like this, but I guess it won't be of much interest.


Notes:
1. All coin images are from various auctions and shown in my Zeno Database.
2. Used articles:
- “Chopmarks and coins on Sichuan rupees from Tibet”.
Gabrisch Karl and Bertsch Wolfgang, Numismatics International Bulletin, vol. 26, no. 3, Dallas, March 1991, p. 57-65.
- “The „sa“ and “bod” Countermarks on Sichuan Rupees”.
Bertsch Wolfgang, Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society, No. 208, Summer 2011, p. 37-38.
- "Genuine and Forged Chinese and Tibetan Countermarks on Coins from Tibet and China".
Bertsch Wolfgang, Chopmark News, Vol. 16, Issue 3, September 2012, p. 104-108.
- “Szechuan Rupee, the Imitation of Indian Rupee”, Y. K. Leung.
"Those at the top of the mountain didn't fall there."- Marcus Washling.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Overview countermarked on Szechuan Rupees
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2021, 06:35:20 PM »
A very impressive gallery and show of knowledge, Igor. Great to have this information all together. Thank you.

I note that you have countermarks one, 3, 4 and 5. It is a tradition in India and Japan and perhaps in other Asian countries to write regnal years this way: the first year is ahd/ahad, subsequent years are numbered. Could these countermarks be regnal years also? In addition, the obviously missing number is two. On coins also, in some years, no coins were struck, especially after the first year, as there is too little information on the demand for coins and people's tendency to prefer old or new coins. Could these countermarks refer to regnal years also?

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

Offline Gusev

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Re: Overview countermarked on Szechuan Rupees
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2021, 08:37:19 PM »
Interesting question, Peter.
I will add that Gabrish and Bertsch mention countermarking "6".
But I have no such image. All other countermarks with numbers are also rare. Only "5" is very common.
The reign of Emperor Guang Xu ended in 1908. This was 34-years of his reign. After that, a two-year-old baby became emperor.
Therefore, it is impossible to somehow compare the numbers on the coins and the year of the emperor's reign.

For me it is a mystery - who put these numbers and especially the word "one". How many traders in Tibet and Sichuan could correctly understand the meaning of these numbers?
"Those at the top of the mountain didn't fall there."- Marcus Washling.