Spanish Eight Reales countermarked as English Dollars
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407 posts

'Two kings heads and not worth a crown'

 

Yes, this is another post about 8 reales. My last post did not get very many views but maybe that's because it was submerged in a flood of new journals that should have been posted as replies. If this one doesn't get many views, I promise to post on a different subject next time :grin:

 

Anyway, several 8 reales, stamped with the head of George III by the Bank of England, have shown up on Ebay recently and reminded me that I needed to take some better photos of mine to update my coin in my ' Amazing 8s ' custom set.

 

At the time they were first circulated, 1797, they were set at a value of four shillings and nine pence, just shy of a crown, thus the phrase 'two kings heads and not worth a crown'.

 

One of 8 reales experts at www.coincommunity.com, swamperbob, has described these as '... one of three attempts by the Bank of England to get silver back into circulation during the monetary emergency of the very early 1800s. England was at war and needed money to fight but they also were trying to hold the line on the value of the pound sterling. World silver prices were high so any "full weight" coins issued would immediately be melted for the silver - so NONE were made. Old worn coins (down to 50% or so) remained in circulation. So the Bank took 8R coins and stamped them to raise their face value above the silver content. These would not be melted.'

 

The majority of these coins featured the bust of Charles IV, known more for his interest in hunting than in managing the Spanish Empire, and George III suffered from a form of mental illness later in his reign, so the other common phrase for these coins was 'the head of a fool on the neck of an a$$'.

 

My example is from 1783, with the bust of Charles III. I was keen to acquire this one, when I saw it offered on Ebay in early 2011, because it was the best example of a coin from this year that I had seen and I wanted to redeem myself for purchasing one of those overpriced, 'America's first dollar', sea-salvaged 1783's.

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See more journals by jgenn

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2,587 posts

Just like two sides of a coin you brought us two tales. Very interesting stories on that one. :)

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Don't worry about posting often about the things you're interested in. This forum is about what interests you about our great hobby. If you are passionate about what you write, there will always be someone that finds your posts interesting including, but not limited to myself.

Gary

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I recently sold my example to another member here. This piece was graded by NGC, AU-55 and is originally from " The Cheshire Collection" Sale.

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138546.jpeg.72a7ce9101b6daf72414d8e47df08067.jpeg

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I recently sold my example to another member here. This piece was graded by NGC, AU-55 and is originally from " The Cheshire Collection" Sale.

Out of curiosity what does one in or about that grade sell for I would lke to own one

wheat

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I recently sold my example to another member here. This piece was graded by NGC, AU-55 and is originally from " The Cheshire Collection" Sale.

Out of curiosity what does one in or about that grade sell for I would lke to own one

wheat

 

This specific piece hammered at $850 at The Cheshire Collection Sale. This example has also been noted as being a Diamond Sharp Countermark and one of the best examples of this quality.

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I paid well over FMV for the one pictured above. The Krauss catalog for this one, KM# 633, is 450 in XF. After reviewing the catalog prices, I am probably wrong in asserting that most of these were stamped on Charles IV host coins. The price breakout by host coin indicate that the Charles III were more commonly countermarked than the Charles IV. This makes sense in the context of the quoted paragraph about the use of worn coins -- the Charles IV coins would have been newly minted in this timeframe and the full silver content possibly worth more than 5 shillings.

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And with the practice of applying the counterstamp came a fun little limerick: "The Bank in order to make its money pass, stamped the head of a fool on the neck of an ."

 

:)

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