Author Topic: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?  (Read 4760 times)

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Offline bagerap

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Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« on: January 12, 2011, 11:37:56 PM »
This coin has puzzled me for many years. It appears to be a half Melgarejo, except that it's copper.


There are tantalising references to a copper melgarejo in some auction catalogues, but nothing definitive. When last I researched this, swamperbob considered that it may be a circulating counterfeit that had lost its silver wash.
Has anyone seen a similar piece? 30.5 mm   8.9g
Thanks,
Bob

Offline bagerap

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2011, 11:39:14 PM »
And I've managed to reverse the first image ???

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2011, 12:28:25 AM »
I don't see a denomination anywhere. The text on the side with the two heads is

A LOS PACIFICADORES DE BOLIVIA - to the pacifiers of Bolivia
MELGAREJO MUNOZ  presumably the names of the gentlemen pictured

CANTERIA DE POTOSI SETIEMBRE 5 DE 1865 - quarry of Potosí, 5th September, 1865
AL VALOR Y AL TALENTO - to courage and talent

Potosí is a mining town. I haven't found any references to what happened in September 1865. However, at that time, the famous silver mines had long been exhausted and Potosí relied on tin mining. The price of tin went down quite a bit at the end of the 19th century, throwing Potosí into poverty. I could imagine a miners' revolt being put down violently...

Peter
« Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 02:39:48 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline andyg

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2011, 12:46:57 AM »
I don't see a denomination anywhere.

These are in Krause as ¼, ½ and 1 Melgarejo.
This looks to be KM#145 but in copper.
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2011, 12:56:36 PM »
Fine, but there's nothing on this piece to indicate it's a coin. It looks more like a medal. Medals have been used as coins before, so everything is possible, but how likely is it?

It is quite usual for medals to be struck in different metals.

Peter
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Offline bagerap

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2011, 02:08:42 PM »
It has a reeded edge Peter, unusual in a medal; and exactly like that of the coin.

Offline Prosit

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2011, 02:34:12 PM »
Found these two listing on the internet:

BOLIVIA: Melgarejo Regime: Potosi mint Gens. Melgarejo & Muñoz
1865 AR 1/4 Melgarejo 1-year Type 24mm. 4.94g.
Obv: Jugate busts left; MELGAREJO, MUÑOZ flanking A LOS PACIFICADORES DE BOLIVIA
Rev: A;/VALOR/Y/AL/TALENTO, stars beneath CANTERIA DE POTOSI SETIEMBRE 5 DE 1865
Fine Old toning, light cleaning, small flan flaw. Scarce 1-year type.
Most of Melgarejo's coinage exists in the form of Proclamation coins, of considerably smaller denominations. KM 144
Inv# WC3628 $24.00

BOLIVIA: Melgarejo Regime: Potosi mint Gens. Melgarejo & Muñoz
1865 AR 1/2 Melgarejo Long beards variety 30mm. 9.98g.
Obv: Jugate busts left; MELGAREJO, MUÑOZ flanking A LOS PACIFICADORES DE BOLIVIA
Rev: A;/VALOR/Y/AL/TALENTO, stars beneath CANTERIA DE POTOSI SETIEMBRE 5 DE 1865
Good VF Overstruck on 4-Soles, some previous scratches. Cleaned.
Most of Melgarejo's coinage exists in the form of Proclamation coins, of considerably smaller denominations. KM 145.1
Inv# WC3629 $30.00

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariano_Melgarejo

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2011, 02:47:21 PM »
Thanks Dale. That Wiki link explains a lot, except what happened in Potosí in September 1865.

Peter
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Offline andyg

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2011, 08:23:58 PM »
Fine, but there's nothing on this piece to indicate it's a coin. It looks more like a medal. Medals have been used as coins before, so everything is possible, but how likely is it?

It is quite usual for medals to be struck in different metals.

Peter

I agree 100% about the denomination, I've not seem them referenced to as being ¼,½ etc outside of Krause.

A friend of mine (who I often ask about these trickier coins) points out,
"A lot of these issues are medals, but since they were often the weight and size of coins, circulated. I sold a similar "is it a medal is it a coin " pieces the other day,--you may recall the 5c. size medal of Belgium 1856"
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2011, 09:05:57 PM »
To answer the original question: I have no documentation on any of these. I presume KM had a good reason to include it in the catalogue, but I don't know what it is.

Even if the piece circulated as money, it started out as a medal, not a coin and it was accepted because it looked like an official coin. It would not have been unusual for a medal to be struck in another metal, but that would not make it acceptable as a coin

Looking at contemporary coins, it is indeed possible to identify a countervalue.

The "1/4 melgarejo" is 10 gr., 0.660 fine, the 1/5 Boliviano 1865 is 5 gr., 0.900 fine. If the Bolivians ignored the difference in fineness, the 1/4 melgarejo could have been circulated for 2/5 Boliviano and the 1/2 melgarejo for 4/5 Boliviano. Neither Boliviano coin exists, though. It's even worse for the copper strike. There is no lookalike copper. The 2 centecimos is significantly smaller (until 1870.)

That leaves the forgery-meant-to-be silvered theory. It seems improbable to me. First, I can find no traces of silver on the coin (but you may argue that it was only meant to be silvered over, it didn't actually happen), second, the diameter does not correspond to any of the silver coins and third, if you want to forge a Bolivian coin, why take a token and not an official coin that is much more readily accepted and will be less closely inspected?

My best guess is that whoever made the dies for the silver coin had some fun with a reducing machine and came up with either a model of what might be seen as a "1 melgarejo", or created a cheap medal that could be sold to the poorer admirers of Melgarejo, then found that the market didn't exist because the poor didn't like him. The two possibilities are not mutually exclusive.

See similar pieces and developments discussed here.

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

Offline andyg

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2011, 12:21:35 AM »
5th september 1865 is the day Melgarejo defeated some rebels led by General Nicanor Flores on a hill called the Canteria near Potosi.  Flores men stood out on the hillside and were easy targets, Melgarejo shot many of the prisoners, including the wounded....

extract from "Latin America's Wars: The age of the caudillo, 1791-1899 By Robert L. Scheina"
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Offline andyg

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2011, 12:27:26 AM »
Anyone have access to the American Numismatic's Society "Museum Notes", issue 25, 1980?
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2011, 12:39:21 AM »
Thanks Andrew. That completes the puzzle.

I understand from Wikipedia that Melgarejo was the model for Dr. Evil and Muñoz was Mini-me. His successor wasn't much better. Poor Bolivia.

I am wondering where such pieces would have been struck. They are reasonably well designed, but the die cracks, the weak centre and the alignment of the letters are more characteristic of a private mint.

Peter
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Offline ZYV

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2019, 08:40:03 AM »
So, issues of 1865 were medals, circulated as coins.

This is a medal too, as I understand:
https://www.vcoins.com/en/stores/civitas_galleries/33/product/bolivia_1868_proclamation_14_melgarejo/620173/Default.aspx

Please, tell, what happened 24-25.1868 in Potosi and Tarata ("defence of Constitution")?
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 08:56:29 AM by ZYV »
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Bolivian Copper Melgarejo?
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2019, 10:12:29 AM »
This piece was also issued during the presidency of Mariano Melgarejo. Tarata (his birthplace) and Potosí may be references to earlier victories - andyg explained Potosí above. The reference to 24th and 25th December on the other side is likely to his new constitution. According to wikipedia:

In 1868, Melgarejo promulgated a new constitution forced by himself, granting omnipotent powers over the public administration and attributing to his office, literally, the power of persecuting and killing opponents, ending the ceremony of promulgation with a banquet (ending up as an orgy) where he made Juana Sánchez (his alcoholic mistress) participate totally naked.

Saving the picture for posterity.

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