St. Vincent – Cut, Pierced & Counterstamped Coins

Started by Deeman, December 26, 2021, 01:41:01 PM

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St. Vincent was ceded to Britain in 1763 under the Treaty of Paris, which was the result of the Seven Years War. Restored to French rule in 1779, St. Vincent was regained by the British under the Treaty of Paris (1783) in which Britain officially recognised the end of the American Revolution. After a 1979 referendum it eventually became the last of the Windward Islands to achieve independence.

Local coinage was introduced by Authority of 8 Dec 1797 ordering Spanish dollars (rated 8/3, 11 bits) to be cut into halves and quarters and counterstamped with an 'SV' monogram. The placement of the monograms was thrice on the cut edge of the pieces half cut and thrice on the quarter cut pieces, one at each corner. Most, so marked, were already circulating bearing no counterstamps and lightweight pieces were plugged to increase their weight accordingly prior to stamping and, if plugged, one of the monograms had to be on the plug. The ordinance also included a crowned 'C' type French colonial coin (stampee) counterstamped with a retrograde incused 'S' in an octagonal indent. They were made from billon with 20% silver, and worth a quarter bit (2¼d) (44 to the dollar). The same 'S' counterstamp was applied to copper Cayenne 2 sous, known as black doggs, worth 1½d (6 to the bit). The aim of this Act was to prohibit the importation of the counterfeit black doggs and stampees, and lightweight silver.

A proclamation of 31 Jul 1798 increased the value of the dollar to 12 bits (9/-) and its parts down to the sixteenth in proportion. This was intended to prevent the exportation of silver, which must have been the natural consequence due to the increased nominal value affixed to coin in Martinique and Grenada.

'Holey' dollars appeared under the Authority of Sep 1811. The centre of a dollar had a circular piece removed equal to half its weight. The obverse of the ring had a hexagonal counterstamped 'S/XII' for 12 bits, the full value of the dollar, whilst the obverse of the centre cut was counterstamped 'S/VI' for 6 bits, the half-dollar value. Also in 1811, four 4 réales coins were counterstamped on the obverse with 'S' over 'IX' for 9 bits and 2 réales coins were counterstamped on the obverse with 'S' over 'IV½' over 'B' for 4½ bits. Additional quantities of all the above were ordered under the Authority of Jul 1814.

In 1823, all cut silver money was withdrawn from circulation. The dollar was replaced by sterling in 1825.


Authority of 1797

St. Vincent (1797) half dollar, host coin 1792 Carlos IV 8 réales, SV monogram counterstamp thrice on obverse.

St. Vincent (1797) half dollar, plugged half cut Carlos IIII 8 réales, 'SV' monogram counterstamp thrice on reverse.

St. Vincent (1797) crowned 'C' stampee, quarter bit, retrograde 'S' counterstamp.


Authority of 1811

St. Vincent (1811) 12 bits, host coin 1802 Carlos IIII 8 réales, Mexico City mint, assayer FT, central pierced hole with 'S' over 'XII' counterstamp.

St. Vincent (1811) 12 bits, host coin 1805 Carlos IIII 8 réales, Peru Lima mint, assayer JP, central pierced hole with 'S' over 'XII' counterstamp.

St. Vincent (1811) 6 bits, centre plug from 8 réales, 'S' over 'VI' counterstamp.

St. Vincent (1811) 4½ bits, host coin 1754 Ferdinand VI 2 réales, Mexico City mint, assayer M, counterstamp 'S' over 'IV½' over 'B'.


Do you have any idea why the holes were so large? Weight or fineness standard maybe?

Always Faithful



Always Faithful


Quote from: brandm24 on December 26, 2021, 03:39:21 PM
Do you have any idea why the holes were so large? Weight or fineness standard maybe?

Indeed, the rings passed for 12 reales, the full value of a peso according to Act of 27th July 1798. Still, it is strange to see a coin of 8 reales tariffed at 12 reales. The reason is that the earlier cut and stamped pieces were of really bad quality. The central part taken out of the pesos was 6 reales of pure profit for the government.

To complicate matters further, the peso was tariffed at 9 shillings in 1798, while it contained less silver than an English crown of 5 shillings. This is clarified by the tariff of the crown @ 10 shillings, making clear that you are looking at an attempt to draw in good silver coins by overvaluing them by 100%(!) in terms of bad local coins. This in term means that in modern terminology, the 1798 Act was in fact a devaluation of the local coins from 11 bits/peso in 1797 to 12 bits/peso in 1798 (slightly over 9%). Likewise, the introduction of the holed dollars and pills in 1811 devalued the local currency further by 50%. International merchants would not have noticed and plantation owners could have sought protection by holding goods or good coins, but the plantation workers (mostly slaves) were defrauded of their savings time and again.

Chalmers quotes a highly interesting remark from the Agent for St. Vincent in an 1815 report as: The only copper coins are the stampee and black dog, both French, the former passing for the fourth part of a bitt, the other the sixth of a bitt (9d. currency). Both the above are miserable coins and great imposition have been practised by the export of something like them from Birmingham of little or no intrinsic value .... This would mean that the fake "French" coppers were actually made in Britain!

If the fakes were coming from Birmingham, the question arises how they reached the Caribbean. The islands were private property, in the case of Sant Vincent of the Duke of Portland. His grace would have wanted his faraway properties milked dry. He would have disliked outsiders bringing in the fakes, so that apart from smugglers, the most likely culprit is the duke and his henchmen. This gives you an idea of how much British nobility had learned from the French revolution.

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