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Cut and Countermarked Coins
November 03, 2008

Understanding Cut and Countermarked Coins

Last week, I posted about the cut and countermarked Holey Dollar and Dump of New South Wales, Australia. One of my regular readers asked about grading these coins, so I though I would post a bit of information on this interesting sub field of numismatics.

Holey Dollars and Dumps are graded by their countermark, as are all cut and countermarked coins. About the best you will ever find will be XF, but most will be lower grades. With cut and countermarked coins the host, or underlying type coin is also considered when determining desireability and value. Rarer host types bring more interest and higher values are the result.

Many parts of the world have used the cut and countermarking method to keep coins in circulation. In the West Indies and the Caribbean, large numbers of circulating cut and counetrmarked coins were produced. Sometimes you find them with multiple countermarks. During times of revolution in Mexcio, countermarkes were used to promote an authority in a region, as well as to keep coins available for commerce. In China, merchants chopmarked Spanish and Spanish Colonial eight reales for a vast span of time to indicate good silver.

The idea of a countermark is to validate a coin and sometimes to tie the coin a locality. Cuting the coin provides reasonable fractional currency to promote ease of local trade.

These are the basic ideas behind cut and countermarked coins.

As collectibles, cut and countermarked coins have varying desireability depending on rarity and condition, the same as with any coin. One difference in the case of cut and countermarked coins is the host type. When we refer to the host type, we are talking about the base coin on which the countermark is struck. Sometimes the host is completely obliterated, but most of the time, with magnification or the naked eye, we can identify the hosts origin. The more legible the host, the more desireable the cut and countermarked coin, generally speaking.

In addition to countermarked coins, there are also counterstamped coins. The difference is simple. A countermarked coin is struck on one side only, or one side at a time, using a punch or die. A counterstamped coin is struck on both sides simultaniously using a pair of dies either in a standard mounting or sometimes with a hinged set.

Counterstamped coins adhere to the same grading standards as countermarked coins and again, the host makes a difference in desireability.

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About the Author
Tom Michael has been Krause Publications primary market analyst on more than 80 world and United States coin catalogs produced over the last 20 years. He came to KP in 1987 with a bachelor of arts degree in history, a master of arts degree in economics and a history of coin collecting stretching back to the 1960s. He began collecting world coins as a child by asking friends and relatives to bring coins back from overseas trips, visiting flea markets and having his mother watch for foreign coins in her register at the local grocery store. Today he works with a dedicated base of over 200 contributors to provide accurate market values for the five-volume Standard Catalog of World Coins series, as well as many specialty catalogs, including Coins & Currency of the Middle East and the fifth edition of Unusual World Coins.

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