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What can you tell me about this lot of coins?
This lot of coins was found in the early 1980s off the NERN coast of the Dominican Republic in the area near the Concepcion shipwreck site. Many ships went down in that area, and that inspired a great deal of art and media.
Are you talking about paintings and movies?
One of the things that really sticks out is Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island featured a shipwreck called the Hispaniola, and the Muppets schooner was also named the Hispaniola.
So, are these coins from the La Concepcion?
Hard to say, but they definitely were of the era. It could have been from a ship that sank in the same storm, or from a storm that plagued the same area.
Some coins have marks on them, like this one. It looks like it has letters on it; N O R V something. What can you tell us about this coin?
It can be really difficult to distinguish one country’s coinage from another because what is happening here is that the Spanish have taken coins from other countries. They have essentially been looted and re-homed and then the eight maravedis stamp that you can see here…
That means it was something else but now it’s an eight maravedis?
Yes. This is what happens when a coin from the Netherlands or a coin from France is stamped over with Spanish markings. It is called a counter-stamp and many of the coins that are in this lot have been taken from other countries and then subsequently restamped with Spanish lions or Spanish eight marks to indicate that they are now eight maravedis coins. This is called counter-stamping.
Is that what this is too? This VIII stamp on this coin?
This coin appears to be originally Spanish. This is what looks to be an eight maravedis coin from, I’m going to say, the 1660s. There does not appear to be a date showing. Oftentimes there are, sometimes there aren’t. This is from the 1640s to the 1660s, probably of Philip the first, and this was probably struck in Spain at the Spanish mint.
This coin right here, it is not flat anymore. Do you know how that happens?
This looks to be a Spanish coin that was counter-stamped to another country. This does not appear to be a Spanish counter-stamp. This coin was struck from 1598 to 1621, and this looks to be a six maravedis coin.
So, counter-stamping -by any country- can cause a coin to become cupped?
Yes, because you take an original coin that was already struck, which is not a hot planchet like the kind that is struck at a mint. This is where they have taken a cold coin, and they’ve taken somebody with a heavy hammer, and they have essentially punched a new symbol and a new design into it, to basically steal the other country’s coinage. So they have taken a cold coin, and they have taken a heavy hammer, and they have stamped and struck a new denomination marked punch into the coin. This tends to create a cupping effect.
Coins like this that are flat; do you think that they heated before they are stamped?
No, this isn’t a counter-stamp. This is an original eight maravedis copper coin probably from the late 1500s. Well, here we go, we have a date of 16, looks like maybe 1641. 1640. Hard to say exactly, but you can clearly see a 16, and then you can see a 40. So this is 1640. You can see a castle design here on the front side of the coin, which is castille y leon. Castles and lions were very popular during this era.
You can see the eight; the “8” symbol struck into this coin, and you can see the shield emblem. This is an escutcheon and you can see the lion at the top of the shield design. Here is the lion in profile and you can see the “8” at the bottom. This is an eight maravedis copper coin; Spanish, 1640s. It is all original. This has never been counter-stamped.
Some of these coins are quite thick. This one is much thicker and this one is quite thin. Did they mint their coins or hammer-strike their coins on different thicknesses? Like this one has the “8” on it too, but it is a different thickness than this one.
These types of cob coins were cut from the end of a small piece of copper or silver, a bar, and so it means that whoever made this type of bar, that this cob type coin eight maravedis was cut from, it was made differently, using a different process. Which probably means that it was made at a different colony or at a different mint location. Coins like this don’t appear to have come from Spain but rather from the New World colonies.
We had talked about Hispaniola earlier, or somewhere in Mexico, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Peru, Guatemala, Chili.
There were a lot of people making coins, and a lot of areas under Spanish influence, but it doesn’t mean that all the coins are from Spain, right?
Correct. There were many Spanish colonies. Throughout the entire New World, there were dozens of colonies that spanned the Globe. The entire empire of Spain was actually larger than the empire of Rome. Each colony had its own mint marks with their own distinctive setup where they were making cob coins, using the hammer, punch, and superheated cob strike method.
So, on these two coins, it looks like they have been split. Could this be caused by the counter-strike, like you were talking about?
You can see here that the coin has been counter-stamped. This is probably a Dutch coin, or a French coin, or maybe even a Middle Eastern coin that they have taken and they’ve punched into it and what has happened is that it has caused a split. So you can see where they have punched a… What is that, is that a five, is that a six? So this is probably a six maravedis coin, that has been counter-stamped, counter struck onto an existing coin.
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