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Counterstamps on Maria Theresia Talers


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Throughout history, it was very common for a country using foreign coins as currency to counterstamp the coins in circulation. Such counterstamps would mark a coin as valid currency in a specific area or country, or indicate a revaluation.

One might expect the Maria Theresia Taler to be a common coin to be imprinted with counterstamps, since it was accepted as currency in many countries. Interestingly, this is not the case. Counterstamps on Maria Theresa Talers are very rare and typically very expensive.

Counterstamps on Maria Theresa Talers: Reference Material

Maria Theresa Taler Counterstamps in Auctions and Sales Catalogs

With few exceptions, counterstamped Maria Theresa Talers do not seem to appear in auctions or in literature before the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many were sold in the late 1960s and early 1970s by U.S. coin dealers. Except for Mozambique counterstamps, the first auction catalog reference to other counterstamps known to me at this time is in the Kreisberg-Cohen mailbid sale of November 18, 1968. The next known sale is the May 1969 Schulman auction, which refers to Counterstamped coins from the Tim Browder Collection as source for many of the coins. Later Schulman auctions (e.g., March 1970, May 1970) list more counterstamped Maria Theresa Talers from the Browder collection.

Many counterstamped Maria Theresa Thalers were originally sold from the Browder collection, in auctions and by U.S. coin dealers, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I have found several U.S. coin dealers which used to sell counterstamped Maria Theresa Talers from the Browder collection in the 1970s. The first references to coins sold from the Browders collection appear in the above mentioned Schulman 1969 auction. The counterstamps sold in the November 1968 Kreisberg-Cohen sale are similar, thus it is possible, if not likely, that those were also consigned by Browder or from the same source.

A common denominator of counterstamped coins sold from the Browder collection is that the reverse type appears to be a type which was only introduced in the 20th century, and many specimen seem to be based on the same type (at least the ones I have seen).

Obviously, this raises serious questions about the authenticy of counterstamps on Maria Theresa Thalers. While it is difficult to find any written information on the subject, many U.S. coin dealers have at least serious doubts. Few get more specific. In the Hall Walls Collection of World Trade Coins auction catalog, we find the following text on the subject.

"... Is it possible that someone attempted to fill the gap in the numismatic record by making coins that the countries involved should have made ? Can anyone speak for Tim Browder, who has been mentioned in the connection with the sale of at least some of these coins during the early 1960s ?"
and elsewhere in the same catalog, about Portugese counterstamps

"The counterstamps for these colonies are well-documented. Counterfeits may have been made to circulate next to the genuine. The cataloger believes modest numbers of numismatically-motivated counterfeits were made in the early 1960's. If one Time Browder is still alive, perhaps he could shed some light. ..."

To make things even more interesting, a source familiar with the issue mentioned that Mr. Browder always insisted that he never knowingly sold any coin forgeries or coins with forged counterstamps, and that Mr. Browder had no recollection of consigning countermarked coins to Schulman auctions. On the contrary, Schulman allegedly confronted Browder about supposedly forged 1918 Eritrea Talers prior to the 1969 sale of countermarked coins from the Browder collection. The same source indicated that one Mr. Whitman may actually have been responsible for distributing forged counterstamps on Maria Theresia Talers in the 1960s.

Of course, all this does not explain how non-authentic countermarked coins allegedly from the Browder collection would end up in Hans Schulman auctions, especially if Schulman suspected that such coins might not be authentic.

Recent experience by collectors living in Yemen indicates that the mere interest in counterstamped Maria Theresia Talers might produce the same. Some of the recently discovered "new" counterstamp variants, such as H155, were obtained this way. Personally, I suspect that this is exactly what happened in the 1960s with Mr. Browder and other collectors passing through the area.

In conclusion, the origin of the many non-authentic counterstamps on Maria Theresia Talers will probably forever remain a mystery.

Classification of counterstamps on Maria Theresa Talers

Counterstamps on Maria Theresa Talers can be classified into several groups.

It is likely that many counterstamps on Maria Theresa Talers are in fact phantasy productions. There is a theory that those counterstamps were created in the late 1950s to the early 1970s in the Middle East. One source indicated that those counterstamps might in fact have been ordered by some U.S. collectors at the time, though I have been unable to confirm this theory. Another possibility is that collectors asked for Maria Theresa Talers with counterstamps, and that the market provided (i.e., created) what they asked for.

There is a number of indications that this might in fact be the case.

In respect to possibly authentic counterstamps (Quaiti, Mozambique), it appears that most of those have also been created at a later date. This is obvious if, for example, the base coin was only struck in the 1900s and the counterstamp is supposed to have been applied in the 1800s. It is unknown at this time if those counterstamps were created using the original dies or using forged dies (or if an original die existed in the first place).

Even if the host coin was struck at an earlier date, that does not necessarily mean that the counterstamp is authentic. After all, the counterstamp could have been created at a later time using an old host coin.

An example of a forged counterstamp is listed in Forgeries. Several variants of Mozambique counterstamps are listed here.

Overall, counterstamps on Maria Theresa Talers are very difficult to evaluate and classify, and it is often almost if not completely impossible to determine the authenticy of a counterstamp.

The currently known counterstamps on Maria Theresa Talers are listed in Counterstamps.

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