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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.
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.
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.
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.