Author Topic: Counter stamped coins  (Read 14949 times)

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Austrokiwi

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Counter stamped coins
« on: February 15, 2011, 08:24:39 AM »
Thanking is a dangerous thing:

    I, like a number of collectors, am deeply suspicious of counter-marked coins. My suspicion is such that I am yet to purchase a counter stamped coin...... most of those that I have seen ( for extremely high prices)  are obvious fakes where the countermark is attributed to one era and the base coins a much later time.    Now the coins that are commonly counter stamped are European Dollars....... however I realised that these dollars often circulated with the Rupee.  Now I haven't been looking but are counter stamps from East Africa and the middle East found on Rupees?....It seems to me that if they are not then that is another hint that the counter stamps are a modern fiction

Offline Abhay

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2011, 08:55:54 AM »
One of such Counter marked Indian Rupee is the NEJD coin. This coin is listed in major catalogues. Recently, it sold for about Rs. 30000 (Approx USD 665) in an auction.

Abhay
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Austrokiwi

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2011, 11:49:21 AM »
Well theres one down: I also did a google search after posting and saw a similar Rupee marked in Pemba. However finding the counter marks on rupees doesn't remove my doubts( unfortunately).........in my field of collecting I have seen many Mozabique, Nejd and Hejaz countermarks on base coins that were minted post 1935. In the Auction of Hal Walls collection of world trade coins ( August 1997). The Auctioneer Paul Bosco made the following comment ( he, also, is suspicious of the counter marked coins) in relation to Portuguese countermarks:

" The cataloger believes modest numbers of numismatically motivated counterfiets were made in the early 1960s.  If one Tim Browder is still alive perhaps he could shed some light.

Paul Bosco went on to note that all the Portuguese countermarked coins in the catalogue were assumed to be non- contemporary..........


I understand that Tim Browder may have acquired many counter stamped trade coins... on a trip to the region and many were obtained within a few days of him asking for such coins from local traders.........perhaps long enough time for the "coins" to be manufactured. 


What is intriguing to me is that normally markets dislike doubt ( look at the resale of second hand cars; usually substantive discounts are built into the sale price due to uncertainty over the cars condition)  yet counter marked coins on non-contemporary base coins ( referring to base coins produced well after the time of the counter mark)    often fetch the amount recorded against that Rupee or more.  I know one MTT with both a Nejd mark and a Turkish Tougrah  will demand prices close to €2000.00 yet it is believed the two known examples were produced to order. I suspect that even identified conclusively as a fake the coins would still pull high figures  as they seem so well established in the market.

It is also interesting that "western" counter-marks on Coins from the 20th century do not demand such high prices yet are considerably rarer : eg Mel Wacks 1980 Bicentenial Thaler... although the package notes a mintage of 1500  Mel Wacks advised me he actually produced not more than 100.  You can pick one of those up for less than US$175.00

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2011, 01:06:10 PM »
I share your doubts and reaction.

One thing that baffles me is that there is sometimes no explanation why anyone would take the trouble to counterstamp. The objective for the Caribbean countermarks is clear and the countermarks are well documented. It as also become clear wich countermarks are genuine and which are fantasy. The same goes for Dutch late 17th century coins. But what was the use of counterstamping in what is now Indonesia, or in East Africa?

Enthusiasts say it was to "keep the coins in the country". That argument doesn't wash with me. I think other Arabs and Indians didn't care if a coin was counterstamped, so the countermarked coins could still be used in foreign trade and would still leave countries with a trade deficit. Setting a different value is just as hopeless as an argument. Every village has a smith who would have no trouble imitating the countermark if the counterstamped coins were set at a higher rate and every port had a raft of potential smugglers if the value were set lower. My best guess is that the mark was used to distinguish genuine from imitation coins, but I would have expected that in such cases there would have been more survivors.

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

Austrokiwi

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2011, 01:33:52 PM »
I am still tracking down the history of the ethiopian star counter mark on MTTs.   It is believed generally these were produced by Tigrean Rebels..... However Figleafs comments as why anyone would want to do so  stands doubly in the case of that counter mark). A local esteemed expert here in Vienna suggested to me that the counterstamp may have been more likely produced by Princess Zauditu and her supporters......as opposed to Tigrean Rebels

Offline Abhay

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2011, 02:57:46 PM »
I do have one Counter Marked coin in my collection - reads PGAH 194X.
Kindly see this thread for more details on Counter Marked Coins.

Abhay
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2011, 04:13:53 PM »
That's another type of counterstamp I understand. The idea was ideological (if that is the right word) warfare: colonialism against independence. But that makes is totally different from the Caribbean and Dutch counterstamps. In those cases, the purpose was to change the value of the coin with the countermark. The coin with counterstamp became a different coin because of the counterstamp. The counterstamp was legally sanctioned.

In the case of the Northern Irish and Indian counterstamp the coin remained the same, but the message of the coin was changed. Most circulating coins are state propaganda. By applying the countermark, the propaganda was challenged with counter-propaganda. A battle of images. Of course these counterstamps are not legally sanctioned.

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

Austrokiwi

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2011, 06:04:58 PM »
So far I have "sounded the con side.   
There is one possibility; that being taxation/duty.  The evidence is slim, in my mind,   Many states in that region  taxed the import of Maria Theresa dollars  I know this as in UK files was amusing case. Some traders complained to the UK that while stopping over in one of the ports( supposedly in transit to their final destination)  their whole stock of MTTs was confiscated..... the Brit Authorities were not amused by the claim and decided against supporting the traders. The seized coins happened to be in a small ships boat heading to the opposite side of the harbour to the customs house in the middle of the night ( with out lights as well). It was assumed the associated paper work for delivery to another port was a cover. 

Countermarks might have been away of trying to show the duty had been paid..........but  given the small number of countermarked coins I doubt it.  Thinking further a major destination of such coins was Oman and duty was charged for their import..... if other states in the region had used a customs mark then Oman would have likely followed that example.

Austrokiwi

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2011, 12:39:29 PM »
I just received a copy of Hans Wilski's two books on counter-marks:

"Countermarks on Ottoman coins" ( 1985 ISBN 3-9803482-2-9)   and "A New table of Countermarks" (2002 ISBN 3-927069-58-2)   


In his 1985 book Wilski makes it clear that he believes the evidence is irrefutable that Hejaz and Nejd counter-marks on MTT and other silver coins are modern forgeries.  Wilski does state that there is no doubt that nickel coins were really used in the Hejaz and the genuine counter mark is only found on   20 and 40 Para coins  ( though he note the exception to the rule in that three 40 para coins out of 1500 - 2000 coins were struck on the reverse).


In regards to the Nejd  he states it is hard the believe they are Authentic.


The shame about this is that some 1970s writers stated that the counter-marks were useful in identifying the base coin( in respect to MTTs) to date of minting.  Its a case were fakes are muddying the waters for researchers.


It amazes me these coins fetch such high figures in Auction........I suppose that even as fakes they are rare.


Offline Afrasi

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2011, 08:35:45 PM »
The collectors - specially US collectors - didn't and don't want to believe the facts! These coins were clear fakes, but once there was and still is a run on any counterstamped coin. Even well known American dealers sold them for highest prices knowing them to be fakes. If you ask them why, you get the answer: "Market accepts them."
btw: As far as I know they were produced in California ...  8) :-X ;D

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2011, 11:22:07 PM »
OK, so it's all well documented now and we have Tom's attention, so we have a perfectly good chance that these countermarked coins will be reduced to a footnote explaining their status in the next edition. Great job, fellers.

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

Austrokiwi

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1944 Aden countermark MTT
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2011, 01:03:20 PM »
This latest acquisition is an unrecorded Countermark on a 1780 Maria Theresa Thaler. Unlike the spurious countermarks found on MTTs this one is most likely genuine and as such, for me, is a wonderfully simple discovery.


With over a 210 year restrike history the knowledge of the MTT is patchy and often contradictory. One writer in the 1970s noted that countermarked pieces were a great way of attributing varieties to likely time of minting. Unfortunately the spurious countermarks muddy this considerably. Not so this unremarkable countermark that seems most likely a war souvenir of the Second World War.

It was an eBay purchase that for once included the known history of the coin. The early part of the story may be a little in doubt but the subsequent chain of ownership seems reliable and informative. As the seller told the story:

“From Mendel Petersons estate (& a favorite coin of mine for years - I paid him $10.00 for it in the 1970's - a hefty price at the time), a circulated silver Austrian taler - these were used extensively for years for trade in the Middle East. It is counterstamped "ADEN   1944". According to Mendel, it was "liberated" from a German prisoner in No. Africa by a British sergeant who then swapped it with an American GI (I'm unsure of what for).  The counterstamper is unknown but possibly the Brit. An interesting memento of the North African campaign, I often wish that this coin could talk.”  ……………………………………………………….-“ someone once said that we don't own these things, we're only their caretakers for a time & my time is about up.  Mendel Peterson was the Smithsonian Institutions only Curator Of Underwater Archaeology & Naval History. He had a large collection of interesting coins.”


Having now received and examined the coin I tend to agree the British soldier was most likely responsible for the counter mark. The seller made the interesting aside that he wished the coin could talk. In actual fact it does “talk” as the base coin is a Paris mint strike of 1937 -1942 vintage (as designated by Hafner). So we know the coin was most likely produced before the formal outbreak of world War II and was exported to Aden (the usual reception port for MTTs. For a while it must have circulated in Yemen before falling into the hands of the counter marker.  It was most likely imported by Antonin Besse and Co of Aden, a firm that purchased MTTs from London Brussels and Paris mints.  There is also the possibility that it was imported by an Indian firm based in Aden but Antonin Besse and Co. is the best guess. 

The German Soldier part of the story becomes a little doubtful though it can not be discounted out right. It is possible that the coin was re-exported from Aden to North Africa where it came into the hands of a German soldier who subsequently became a POW. With the aquisition by the brit it then returned to Aden with him.  The reason I doubt this possibility is that it seems less likely (but not impossible) that a Brit soldier was transferred form North Africa to Aden and then decided to make the coin a souvenir of his stay in that port. To me it just seems more likely the Brit was based in Aden in 1944 and used an MTT that was found locally. Another possibility is that instead of a German soldier it was an Italian POW from Ethiopia.

The coin is not overly attractive and the copper sheen evident in the photos did cause questions for me. However the coin is of the right diameter and weight for a Paris mint MTT, it also has has all the requisite markers. This is where the method of application of the countermarks might play a role. With my limited and very fallible knowledge of silver-smithing I believe that the coins surface on the obverse is not toned but has been damaged by heat ( ie: fire scale). Under magnification the typical blue/red colours of fire scale are evident around “ADEN”. The coins surface seems much harder than normal ( more steel like) also a possible indication of the application of heat. It seems to me that to apply the countermark the coin was heated prior to using the punches; this may have allowed some copper to leach out of the alloy to the surface of the coin.

For me this acquisition is an elegantly congruent find. Obviously it isn’t a great numismatic piece but it is a very good marker to time and place and established history of the 1780 MTT. I was thrilled to be able to add it to my collection
« Last Edit: May 07, 2011, 01:15:15 PM by Austrokiwi »

Austrokiwi

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1944 Aden countermark MTT
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2011, 01:04:07 PM »
Here is the reverse

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2011, 01:26:51 PM »
Your heating theory seems right on the mark for me for the reasons you mentioned plus the heating marks seem to accentuate the places where the coin was countermarked and one side of the reverse, meaning that the coin was not held in an absolutely straight angle to the fire, so the heat tended to go around the coin in one way only.

I interpret the description of the events leading to the counterstamping as: Sergeant gets posted in North Africa. Acquires coin from German prisoner (this would most likely have happened on the front line, rather than behind the lines, in a prison camp: less supervision and new prisoners need to be searched for arms and contraband items) - Sergeant's unit gets rotated out to Aden for R&R. - Bored Sergeant finds local smith who has letter and figure punches and spends money on the counterstamp.

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

Austrokiwi

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Re: Counter stamped coins
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2011, 02:08:13 PM »
Thanks for the additional comment:  I now have a question

My limited understanding of fire scale is that it occurs only in the presence of oxygen  so it seems possible to me ( although my eyes say otherwise)  that the coin was heated from the reverse perhaps partially buried in "coals"  with only one small section of the reverse open to the air. So a large part of the reverse was deprived of oxygen and the resultant fire scale while the obverse was open to air and therefore reacted the most.  Is this  a reasonable assumption?    As I said my eyes and instinct tell me it was the other way round and heat was applied to the obverse