St. Kitts Cut and Countermarked Coins: A Re-examination – K.V. Eckardt

As a whole the cut and countermarked coinage of the West Indies has suffered from a lack of contemporary documentation and incorrect attributions. Of course this series is not unique in this respect. However, closer study and the uncovering of contemporary sources has greatly assisted in our understanding of the series and in correcting past errors of attribution.

The action taken on the island of St. Kitts is interesting in that proper local legislative processes were followed and a quantity of coins were cut and countermarked in accordance with the local Act, however, they were not released into the local economy. Action taken on the island of Tortola in February 1801 created a potentially embarrassing predicament for the Leeward Island Governor-General, Lord Lavington (Sir Ralph Payne). The Tortola Act had been passed onto Whitehall and was disallowed putting Lavington in a situation preventing him from allowing the St. Kitts countermarked coins entering circulation on the island. However, a clever solution to the problem was achieved.

4 thoughts on “St. Kitts Cut and Countermarked Coins: A Re-examination – K.V. Eckardt

  1. Very interesting resume of the situation in St. Kitts and Tortola. Can I assume that all known silver coins with countermarks covered by this resume are from 8 reales?

    • Thanks Eric for your question. With regards to St. Kitts all specimens known to me are on segments from Spanish-American 8 Reale coins. Of course all of these have a secondary stamp from Tortola. St. Kitts seemingly did not use a ‘1 Bitt’ denomination, which would be a cut half segment of a Spanish-American 2 Reale coin or a half segment from a Spanish Pistareen.
      On Tortola in addition to the 3 denominations derived from dollar size coins a ‘1 Bitt’ denomination was countermarked on a half cut segment of a 2 Reale or Pistareen.
      We also find some very rare specimens with Tortola stamps on cut half segments of French Ecu coins; again rare on cut half segments of 8 Reale coins from Spanish mints; and a ‘one off’ cut quarter segment specimen from an early American Bust type dollar.
      Whole coins stamped Tortola are extremely rare with only the following known … all ‘one offs’: Spanish-Am Half-Reale with a Type 1 stamp; Spanish-Am One Reale with a Type I stamp; Spanish Pistareen with a Type I stamp; Spanish Pistareen with a Type II stamp; Spanish Pistareen with Type II and later a St. Barts Morin 18 Stuiver stamp; and finally the 8 Reale coin originally stamped as a whole coin with Type I (4x) then later cut in half and stamped Type II.

      • Thanks Ken. Probably slightly off the track of your original article but do you know of any written documentation that refers to countermarking on anything else than reales?

        • Hi Eric, I’ve been thinking about your question last night and I don’t have any knowledge of contemporary documentation that refers to countermarking on anything else than Spanish-American 8 Reale coins other than the Half-Ecu coins countermarked, as tradesman pieces, in Scotland. Of course there may well be documents out there, but these would be outside my area of study.

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