A Countermark Christmas

I was casting about for a subject appropriate to the holiday season when I came across this coin:

ANS, 1943.132.4
ANS, 1943.132.4

And so I figured I would review some of our more interesting countermarked coins for the holiday season. This 1843 US large cent was apparently countermarked for one A. S. Warner as a Christmas gift in 1845. I am not sure if the maker had a full set of letter punches because a C has been used instead of a G in “GIFT.” It has also been suggested that the maker may have been drinking.

ANS, 1957.109.4
ANS, 1957.109.4

This is a silver four drachm minted in Alabanda around 170 BC that has been countermarked with the head of Tyche to revalidate the coin for circulation in Caria (southeast Turkey).

ANS, 1953.171.1081
ANS, 1953.171.1081

A rare bronze as struck in Rome during the brief but supposedly debauched reign of Caligula (AD 37-41). The purpose of the ‘AV’ countermark on the reverse, which depicts the Roman goddess Vesta, is unclear.

ANS, 1960.111.363
ANS, 1960.111.363

The reverse of a silver thaler minted in the German state of Württemberg during the early sixteenth century. The eagle countermark is thought to represent and validate the coin for circulation in the Hanseatic City of Lübeck.

ANS, 1917.215.2628
ANS, 1917.215.2628

A gold dinar bunduqi minted in Maghrib during the reign of Ismail Ibn Sharif (AD 1672-1727), the warrior king who consolidated the power of the Moroccan Alaouite dynasty. The counterstamp, a key between the initials JR, is supposed to have been that of King João V of Portugal, which maintained a string of coastal fortresses and trade centers along the Atlantic coast of northwest Africa.

ANS, 1913.130.209
ANS, 1913.130.209

This is a very worn 1795 US half dollar that features a neat countermark which resembles a spoked wheel. The speculation on the container is that this was marked for circulation in the Bahamas, but that seems dubious. Fred Pridmore suggested that it might be a Dharmarckra, a Buddhist religious emblem. Perhaps one for the “Mysteries from the Vault” series.?

ANS, 1970.156.712
ANS, 1970.156.712

So we are cheating a bit on this last one, which is not really countermarked, but is an appropriately repurposed coin. This is the reverse of a well-worn 1815 silver real from Columbia that some enterprising nineteenth-century American re-engraved as a Christmas gift for a loved one.

Happy holidays and for those in the giving mood, please consider donating to the American Numismatic Society as part of our year-end appeal.

Matthew Wittmann