A Spanish colonial “silver dollar” with ties to the Industrial
Revolution highlights Noble Numismatics’ Nov. 18 to 20 auction.
The 1780-Mo-FF silver 8-real piece, countermarked by Cark Cotton
Works, a mill in northern England, is a one of six known examples of
the type among about a dozen silver 8-real coins known with the Cark
countermark. The countermarking has led to the pieces being cataloged
The tokens include the merchant issuer’s name and 1787 date stamped
on the Charles III portrait on the obverse, while the merchant’s
designated denomination of 4 shillings and 6 pence is spelled out on
the Shield and Pillars reverse.
England experienced an acute shortage of British silver coins from
1751 to 1816 because silver had become worth more than the legally
designated price the Royal Mint could pay to acquire silver for
striking. Spanish silver coins (and, less commonly, other world coins)
circulated in their place, with merchants providing a market value.
Merchants stamped valuations on the coins that were slightly higher
than bullion value to discourage melting, but not so high as to spur
counterfeiters, according to Eric C. Hodge, writing in an undated
commentary for the Orsmkirk & Lancashire Numismatic Society.
The Cark Cotton Works opened in about 1785. Its operations included
buying, spinning, manufacturing, and selling cotton goods, according
to H.E. Manville, writing in Tokens of the Industrial Revolution,
Foreign Silver Coins Countermarked for use in Great Britain, c.1787-1828.
“The 1787 date on the countermark presumably refers to when the
countermarked tokens were first issued,” Manville wrote.
At the time Manville’s book was published in 2001, eight examples of
countermarked Pillar dollars with portrait obverse were known, five of
these on Mexico City 8-real coins and three on silver 8-real coins of
Lima. A ninth countermarked example, struck on a nonportrait Pillar
dollar, was also known.
Manville’s census includes the piece offered by Noble but does not
include a similar piece (on a 1777-Mo-FM silver 8-real coin) that sold
April 2, 2014, in a Dix Noonan Webb auction, which would be at least
the sixth known example struck on a Mexico City Bust or portrait
dollar host coin. Noble reports that the piece it offers is “one of
Hodge reports that 11 examples of the Cark countermark on silver
dollars are known, but he does not provide a census, so it is unclear
if his tally includes the example sold in April 2014.
Noble classifies the example it is offering as Very Fine and
estimates it will sell for $2,500 Australian (about $2,203 U.S.).
For more about the auction, email the firm or visit its website.