Turkish coins with denominations obliterated.

Started by Manzikert, October 01, 2022, 01:04:00 AM

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Over the years I have come across several 19th century Turkish copper coins which have had their denominations obliterated, seemingly officially.

They are all coins of Abdul Aziz (1861-1876), and I have collected coins of 5, 10, 20 and 40 para. 1 para coins may also exist, but I don't recall ever having seen one.

The characteristic of these pieces is that the denominations in the reverse centre appear to have been deliberately flattened, and the centre of the tughra on the obverse is also flattened opposite the denomination. This was probably done by stamping them between two blank dies.

At first I thought it might have just been someone just marking the odd coin, but then I began to find other denominations.

I have seen a reference (in MacKenzie, K.M. and Lachman, S., Countermarks of the Ottoman Empire 1880-1922) to the fact that Turkish copper coinage was demonetised in the 1880s, resullting in the countermarking of many by the various Greek townships.

However, I have never seen anything about official obliteration of the denominations, and I wonder if anyone else has come across these?

I attach scans of 5, 10, 20 and 40 paras below.



On the - pretty high grade - top two you show, there is no trace of the denomination; it seems to have been removed by the mint. Easy enough, since they were obviously machine-made. I suspect that [speculation] the reason behind such an action was that the pieces were likely to be re-denominated, perhaps with a punch, that the new denomination had not been decided on and that the re-denomination did not come about[/speculation]. At this time, the Ottoman empire's finances were chaotic, inflation was high, monetary standards in a flux and the economy exhausted by almost constant warfare, mainly with Russia and Austria.

The bottom two have traces of the number removed after striking. They are of lower grade (but I am sure you went for high grade specimen). IF my speculation above is correct, they are easily explained. As the un-denominated coins and the intention of re-denomination became known, it would have been profitable to remove the domination and demand a premium for un-denominated coins, since "they will be worth more in the near future".

IIRC, the Greek counterstamps were made to alleviate scarcity of coins and were intended to make them circulate locally, though some may have been used in local churches to preserve access to locals. A different case altogether. That does not excludes that the denomination on the lower two coins were removed by Greeks (or Cypriots out to squeeze more money out of British soldiers) of course, but the numbers could have been removed anywhere where Ottoman coins and the rumours circulated.

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