Editor's note: The following is the fourth of a five-part Coin
World series about collecting emergency coinage, prepared by Jeff
Starck for the March 2015 monthly edition of Coin World.
an emergency is too big for a response like James II’s in 1689 and
1690. Unquenchable demand for silver coinage in late 18th century
England forced authorities to act, and striking more coins was out of
Bank of England in 1797 responded by adding an oval countermark to
foreign silver coins, mostly Spanish 8-real coins from the
Spanish-American mints of Mexico City, Lima and Potosi, according to
Peter Seaby in The Story of the English Coinage.
in the United States, the Spanish dollars were cut into fractions and
used as smaller denominations in Britain. Even some U.S. silver
dollars were marked with the counterstamp.
Spanish dollars were lighter and contained a lower fineness of silver
than the earlier British crowns. The countermarked coins traded as 4
shillings and 9 pence), so they had less silver than their face value,
discouraging their hoarding. The American silver dollars have slightly
more silver than the Spanish-American 8-real coins, but still less
than their new face value as countermarked.
counterfeits of the countermark on coins proliferated, and in 1799 a
new, octagonal countermark was introduced. In 1800 the countermarked
coins were revalued to 5 shillings, and in 1804 the Bank of England
decided to overstrike a new design on the coins.
Coin Yearbook 2015 provides valuations for Extremely Fine
examples of all three types. A dollar with oval counterstamp is £750
(about $1,133 U.S.), and a dollar with the octagonal counterstamp is
£800 ($1,208 U.S.). The Bank of England dollar, also in EF, is valued
at £500 ($755 U.S.).
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