US Coins

Is the D on this coin a chop mark or counterstamp?

Regarding damage on coins, few post-striking impairments are more interesting than counterstamps and chop marks.

Chop marks are most often seen on Trade dollars while counterstamps are most often placed on a coin by a merchant as a form of advertising. The presence of a counterstamp or intriguing chop marks can sometimes increase the value of a coin by adding historical interest.

”U.S.Is coin jewelry a form of self-expression or mutilation?: Inside Coin World: Jewelry made from coins can be found for sale all over the Internet, and even at major coin shows. Is it numismatic art or numismatic crime?

Heritage’s auction held during the February Long Beach Expo and a pre-expo auction by Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers both featured a few great examples of coins where individuals intentionally stamped the surfaces to convey messages or test value. 

Here is one of three we profile in this Market Analysis:

The Lot

1662 Massachusetts Oak Tree twopence, Very Fine Details, Obverse Chop Mark

The Price


The Story

A 1662 Massachusetts Oak Tree twopence provides an interesting quandary: what is the difference between a chop mark and a counterstamp? PCGS graded this small 17th century silver coin offered at Heritage’s February Long Beach auction Very Fine Details, Chop Mark.  

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A single letter D is prominently stamped at the center of the obverse. The term chop mark is typically used with Trade dollars to note a Chinese character or characters stamped onto a coin by a merchant to validate the weight, authenticity and value of a given coin. The D on this coin could be called either a chop mark or a counterstamp, especially since the entity who placed the big D on the coin is unknown, as is the mark’s purpose.

Regardless of what you call the D, the twopence is a damaged coin and sold at $998.75, a discount to a comparable undamaged example, which might trade for $2,000 to $3,000.

Keep Reading About Coins With Chop Marks and Counterstamps:

Draped Bust dollar counterstampWhen a Draped Bust dollar turned into an advertisement is no ordinary defacement: Merchants would often counterstamp coins in the 19th century with their business names to help promote their goods and services.

Trade dollar with chop marksOnce shunned, Trade dollars with Asian chop marks now have a market: In 2003 PCGS began certifying Trade dollars with chop marks, and today these Trade dollars are valued by collectors.

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