One thought on “Analysis of Cut 8 Reales Countermarked by Rothsay Mills – Eric C. Hodge

  1. Eric’s Analysis of cut 8 Reales countermarked by Rothsay Mills provides an interesting examination of these relatively rare coins. It would appear, in these times where the value of a coin denomination and the value of its silver content were closely aligned, that the underweight element of these cut segments relative to their denominational value allowed Rothsay Mills a bit of scope as the value of silver on the bullion market increased or decreased. But was this scope by calculation or by chance?
    However, of more interest to me is the exploration in the blog of the cutting process and the loss of silver resulting in the average weight loss of 9.6% for the cut half segments and 8.2% for the third cut segments.
    Examination of these cut segments clearly shows that they were not cut by a hammer blow on a blade, as was the case in many of the cut segments in the West Indies. I was surprised to read that the segments were cut by shears (scissors), as my feeling was that the clean straight cut edges were the result of a press action consisting of a fixed platform and a movable element that came down vertically on the coin. A brief email exchange with Dave Greenhalgh indicated that a scissors type shear was fully up to the job, and in due course I look forward to a demonstration of this process.
    So I ask what is the explanation for the fairly significant percentage of silver loss? Firstly the nominal weight Eric used of 27.06g is probably high, but I understand why he used this figure, as it is a published value that is specified in Spanish references. I looked at a range of 8 Reales (52 coins) ranging from fine to good very fine and a typical weight is more in the order of 26.60g, but using this weight against the averages Eric calculates only reduces the silver loss by 1 to 1.5%. The light filing to ‘round’ the corners would account for a very small reduction, but this would be difficult to calculate. So how can the rather significant loss of silver be accounted for?
    Referring to Table I: Numbers 3 and 6 are in my collection. Number 3 is a ‘right hand’ half and Number 6 is a ‘left hand’ half (these obtained from separate sources many years apart). Amazingly the original coin features of both halves match up on the obverse and reverse suggesting they are (or could be) the two halves of the original coin. The original coin was cut about 8 degrees off the vertical line of the shield. There does not seem to be a ‘bump’ as a result of the later application of the countermark shifting metal, as when the two halves are put together the line of light showing through is very small and uniform. When the two halves are put together and the diameter measured from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock the measurement is 41.2mm, which is at the top end for the diameter of an 8 Reale coin. Yet the combined weight of these two segments is only 24.15g; 2.91g light of the nominal official weight and 2.45g light of a typical circulated coin.
    Number 6 shows a line from the top edge to about the centre of the coin. Could this be evidence of the cutting tool, but the coin being slightly repositioned before the full cut was made? This line is only 0.5mm or slightly less and if caused by the cutting instrument could not account for the significant percentage of silver loss as noted in Table I.
    So for the moment the question of what is the cause of the missing silver remains unanswered.

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