In July 1781 Mr Joshua Steele wrote to the Society at Adelphi in London informing that several Gentlemen of property and liberal education had formed a Society on the island of Barbados for the ‘Promotion of Useful Arts’. These included agriculture, manufacturing and innovation all in order to provide vocation training and employment to the poorer classes, both white and black, on the island. In May 1782 the Society decided to commission an Award Medal to be presented to deserving individuals contributing to the aims of the Society. Have any of these award medals survived?
Again, along the recent series of Blog Posts regarding modern fakes readers should be made aware of a potentially convincing fake countermark on 8 Reale coins from Jamaica (c.1758-9). While the fabricators of these fake coins or countermarks may have some familiarity with the issues they are copying generally their knowledge is not as developed as an advanced collector/student and inevitably they get one or more aspects wrong which then is a marker for their handiwork. Numismatists must be vigilant and conduct a through investigation when a new variety makes it’s appearance in the marketplace. While legitimate contemporary material continues to be discovered, from time to time, the modern fabricator will use this route to their advantage in placing their modern material into the marketplace. The quality of modern fakes will undoubtedly improve, but I trust that ‘we’ shall be able to find that one little thing that they get wrong.
This short articles continues the recent run of articles on the theme of forgeries; this time in relation to my interest in West Indies cut and countermarked coins, and the encapsulation of such coins.
The topic that I address in my blog piece is to ask the question: “In the light of the current anti-racism protests, should numismatists be concerned about the obvious slave trading associations of certain British coins in their collections?”. I then go on to examine the origins of the metals which went into the “Elephant” and “Elephant & Castle” guineas (Royal African Company link) as well as the silver coins minted with SSC on the reverse (South Sea Company link).
This article looks at the shilling coins issued by the East African Currency Board struck at various mints between 1921 and 1952, and especially the scarce 1943 pieces struck at the Bombay mint. The existence of contemporary counterfeits of the 1943I shillings confirms that the pieces circulated and also highlights the poor state of the circulating medium at the time.
An attribution is always sought for coins created to meet the needs of local circumstances when officially minted coins are not available. Official documentation or contemporary accounts are often non-existent for the cut and countermarked coinage of the colonial West Indies. In the absence of proper coinage from the home countries crude measures had to be employed to allow for day to day business transactions and for the local marketplace to function. In many cases an attribution can be made from the countermark; for other more investigative work is needed. The attribution of the cut countermarked coin examined in the following paper has been previously assigned to two different islands and in this case contemporary documentation has actually resulted in a misleading direction. While the attribution now proposed cannot be taken as an absolute it has been arrived at on the basis of a detailed review of the published facts and a ‘reasonable scenario’ based on these facts.
In West Africa around 1920 the silver coinage was replaced by a tin-brass alloy. The contract for 4,000,000 shillings was given to J.R. Gaunt and Son Ltd. of Birmingham, however the company was unable to complete the work and only produced just 16,000 pieces. Surviving pieces are quite rare, and this brief article makes a few observations on some known examples. Click here to read the article
In the 18th century most European colonies were chronically short of circulating coins which led to many of them countermarking and/or mutilating specific quantities of any available coin, mostly Spanish American silver. These would then be issued and accepted by the authorities at an enhanced rate which, together with any mutilation, would deter their export. Most official (and some unofficial) cuts and countermarks have been positively identified but the simple countermark published here has not. A possible reason for it is suggested and reports of any similar marks, particularly on coins with a provenance, would be interesting. Click here to access the article