Overstruck Coins

February 15, 2009

Brazil 1815 960 Reis - Overstruck on Spanish 8 Reale

During the history of minting coins sometimes, deliberately or accidentally, coins have been made by using existing coins as raw material. Basically this means that an existing coin with an existing design has a new design stamped onto it. There are several reasons why this may have happened. In ancient times older coins celebrating events that were no longer politically acceptable or sporting slogans that opposed the current government were often collected up and overstruck with a new designs or simply overstamped to obliterate offending material. Overstruck Roman coinage is quite common, with regional rulers sometimes overstriking ciruclating coinage with their own name or initials to help spread their power base.

In more modern times a coin may have been over-struck with the same design because the first coin was poorly made or accidentally during the production process (the double struck coin error). Sometimes in periods of currency shortages a government would purchase a large number of coins from another country overstamp them with their own design giving them a local value and releasing them into circulation. One of the best known examples of this was the so called 'Bank Dollars' of Great Britain in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Bank of England bought up a large number of Spanish colonial 8 reale coins and initially countermarked them with a small oval shaped counterstamp of King George III's portrait. These countermarked dollars were valued at 4s9d. Later the Bank invested in full sized dies and overstruck the 8R design completely producing the 'bank dollars' valued at 5s. These coins portrayed George III on the obverse and a seated Britannia in an oval setting with the legend 'Bank of England' on the reverse.

Other well known examples of overstruck coins include the double rupees of India, the holey dollars of Australia, and the 960 Reis coins of Brazil. All of these coins used the Spanish colonial 8 reale as the host coin overstruck with a local coin design. At the top of this post you can see a Brazillian 1815 960 Reis with traces of the host 8 Reale coin circled.

Posted by mnemtsas at February 15, 2009 7:51 AM
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