|Archive available at http://www.ChicagoCoinClub.org/|
|Volume 51 No. 12||December 2005|
The 1043rd meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was called to order at 7 PM by President Robert Feiler at Chase Bank’s Dearborn Center, 131 S. Dearborn, Conference Room 6A, Downtown Chicago with 14 members present. The October Minutes as published in the Chatter were approved. Treasurer Steve Zitowsky reported October revenue of $34.00 and disbursements of $96.76, leaving a balance of $8,075.21 in the treasury.
The program for the evening was an auction of 19 lots with Jeff Rosinia serving as auctioneer and the evening’s jokemeister.
Under old business Steve Zitowsky reminded members to make reservations for the Annual Banquet to be held December 14th at Marcello’s Restaurant, 645 W. North Avenue, Chicago. Reservations can be made by sending a check made payable to the CCC for $25.00 per person and mailing it to P.O. Box 2301, Chicago, IL 60690. Members can also send an e-mail to email@example.com. Mark Wieclaw and Glen DeCosta volunteered to donate funds for hors d’oeuvres. Steve also reminded members of 2006 dues should be paid in the amount of $20.00 per person.
Lyle Daly is organizing a silent auction for the Club’s benefit at the banquet and he requested members to donate items, especially non-numismatic material, which spouses may find attractive. Members were encouraged to write or e-mail a list of the merchandise they’ll be bringing so it can be printed in the Chatter.
Following Robert Leonard’s proposal to issue a souvenir card for the CCC meeting at the 2006 Chicago International Coin Fair dealing with Mexican Chocolate Money, a motion to accept was made and passed. The card would include several cocoa beans. It was reported that a dealer of primitive money, Scott Seamans, Seattle, WA, is interested in creating a link to the Club’s web site if the Club’s available primitive money souvenir cards are listed.
A brief discussion was held concerning work on a tri-fold brochure promoting the Club. The possible creation of a membership medal was discussed and it was referred to the committee handling the brochure.
Lyle Daly, an employee of Chase bank, reported the meeting room may not be available in the future and the Club may receive very little warning. His comments were supported by Jeff Rosinia, another Chase employee, and several members volunteered to make inquiries into other locations.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 PM.
Carl Wolf, Secretary
A presentation by David MacDonald to our October 12, 2005 meeting, (images not included).
My chief interest is overstruck Greek coins, that is coins that have been recoined by striking them with new and different dies, whether by the original minting authority or by a different minting authority. Such coins are generally not popular with most collectors. They tend to be ugly and for most people represent no more than curiosities, but for me they are endlessly fascinating. Overstrikes provide information about the flow of currency from one area to another, about ancient monetary policies and procedures, and about chronological evidence on the sequence of issues and even occasionally on the sequence of little known rulers.
What I want to do this evening is talk a bit about overstrikes in general and show you, if we have any luck with the technology, a few examples of what seem to me to be interesting overstrikes.
Overstriking was a regular feature at some mints during certain periods and occurred sporadically at many others. Gold overstrikes are almost unknown. There are many varieties of overstruck silver coins, but most are individually rare and all at least scarce. Some copper overstrikes are rare, but others are known from thousands of specimens. In all probability, many overstruck coins show no evidence of the process, which successfully obliterated all trace of the host coins. Unmistakable traces of overstriking are apparent on other coins, but too little of the host coins’ designs survive to be identified. Host coins can be identified only on the least efficiently executed overstrikes.
The first problem, though, is why did ancients, or for that matter medieval and modern peoples overstrike coins? Overstriking, of course, did nothing to increase the number of coins available, but it did alter them, replacing the types and legends that indicated the original issuing authority with new types and legends. This was done for a variety of reasons. Each case must be examined individually, and in some instances, there is no apparent reason.
Coins struck at different mints often circulated together in the Greek world, but not all coins, even coins of good silver and full weight, were always acceptable at a good rate. Unfamiliar coins from distant mints or obsolete coins might be heavily discounted. Such coins might be completely recoined, reducing them to raw metal by melting, manufacturing new flans, and striking entirely new coins. Alternatives to complete recoining were overstriking and countermarking, both of which frequently occurred in the history of Greek coinage and frequently served similar purposes. The distinction between countermarking and overstriking may even be unclear in cases where hinged dies applied large countermarks or small overstriking types simultaneously to both sides of a host coin.
Mints tended to employ overstriking rather than complete recoining when too few coins were involved to warrant the expense and labor of melting and creating new flans or as an expedient when large numbers of coins had to be recoined quickly. Overstriking might be employed rather than countermarking to obliterate the original identity of host coins or at least if there was indifference to preserving it, while countermarking preserved that identity in some sense.
Coins were often overstruck to alter their area of circulation. Coins that enjoyed broad circulation might be recoined with local types in the effort to capture the coins for exclusively local circulation. Small Greek communities in the Adriatic overstruck the bronze coinage of Macedonia apparently for this reason. Similarly, the first coinage of the small Cretan city of Polyrhenion is generally overstruck on the common and broadly accepted hemidrachms of Argos and occasionally on Corinthian hemidrachms. The coins of Polyrhenion would have been less widely acceptable and more likely to have been retained to serve local needs. A rare mid-fifth century Athenian overstrike on a tetradrachm of Syracuse is an example of a coin that had moved far from its usual areas of circulation and was presumably overstruck to render it locally acceptable at full rate.
Coins could be recoined or overstruck when they became obsolete and less acceptable with the passage of time. The length of time a coin might remain in circulation varied greatly. A didrachm of Akragas was well over a century old when overstruck at Taras. Such overstriking took place in such diverse regions as Sicily, Thrace, and Egypt and involved both bronze and silver coins. On occasion, such overstriking was undertaken by unofficial mints, probably on occasion to avoid official recoining fees, but more often it seems to have taken place in regions remote from the official coining authority and represents simply local attempts to render obsolete currency acceptable.
Coins were also likely to be overstruck if they differed from the local weight standard. Coins sharing a common weight standard were obviously easier to overstrike, but there was less reason to overstrike them. Coins of heavier standard were often reduced to a lighter standard by trimming the flan before restriking. The precision of this process varied greatly with time and place. Ptolemy I’s reduction and overstriking of earlier Attic weight coins, undertaken for government profit, was accomplished with great accuracy. In contrast, a stater of Abdera overstruck by Teos was crudely and imprecisely adjusted by two chisel cuts. Many Corinthian-type staters restruck by the cities of southern Italy were also only roughly reduced in weight. Some coins were even overstruck to a higher weight standard than the original host coin. This was accomplished by folding the new metal and host coin together and then hammering until all adhered or by making a hole in the host coin and adding a plug of new metal. Overstriking to a higher weight standard was generally rare, although Samos employed it with some regularity for overstriking staters of Aegina. Staters of Samos on very irregular flans often prove on close examination to be such overstrikes.
It is frequently suggested that overstriking was employed as a political measure, to obliterate the emblems of an enemy. An example is coins of the Seleucid Demetrios I and Laodiceia overstruck on coins of the usurper Timarchos. Similarly, overstriking might be undertaken to promote civic pride. Rulers and cities certainly felt that coinage had some political meaning. The famous Sestos decree (OGIS 339) indicates that in addition to the profit motive, “the people had decided to use its own bronze coinage in order that the city’s type might have currency.” Nevertheless, care should be exercised in attributing overstiking entirely to political or patriotic motives. Coins are primarily fiscal instruments, and financial considerations for restriking should be considered before political or ideological reasons are assumed, though a change of regime often provided a good opportunity to undertake overstriking for economic advantage.
The overstriking of masses of foreign coins in a short period is often associated with military activity and the payment of troops. At the end of the fourth century, Cretan mints overstruck silver from Kyrene, surely the pay of mercenaries returned home. About the same time, several Greek mints in southern Italy extensively restruck Corinthian-style staters, money earned by grain sales to mainland Greece and overstruck locally to pay troops. In Sicily during the Second Punic War, Carthaginian and Roman forces, Syracuse and other Sicilian communities all overstruck one another’s bronze coins. There may be political dimensions to these overstrikes, but probably the chief motive was to produce quickly a valid currency for the use of troops.
Other overstrikes are explicable in terms of the monetary systems in which they circulated. Ancient coins were struck and circulated in either open or closed monetary systems. In open monetary systems, coins moved freely and their nominal value was identical or nearly so to their bullion value, and in an open monetary system, coins might be overstruck for any of the reasons suggested above. In the Greek world, large silver denominations generally circulated in open monetary systems, while bronze and small silver denominations circulated in closed monetary systems, although in some instances closed monetary systems were able to enforce control over large silver denominations as well. For example, the Attalid kingdom imposed its peculiar cistophoric standard and recoined and occasional overstruck Attic weight coins after reducing their weight. A famous inscription from Olbia demonstrates how that relatively isolated city was able to maintain a closed monetary system:
Anyone who wishes may sail to the Borysthenes under the following conditions: Resolution of the Council and people, proposed by Canobus son of Thrasydamas. The import and export of any kind of coined gold and silver is permitted. Anyone who wishes to sell or buy coined gold and silver is to sell and buy it on the stone in the meeting place of the Assembly. If anyone buys or sells it elsewhere he is to be put on trial, and (if found guilty) the seller is to forfeit the silver which has been sold, and the buyer the price which he paid for it. All selling and buying is to take place in the currency of the state, in bronze and silver of the city of Olbia. If any sale or purchase takes place in any other currency, the seller is to be deprived of whatever he is selling, and the buyer of the price that he pays for it. And those who buy the contract for lawbreakers shall exact the penalty from those who have offended against the decree, when they have duly convicted them. It is to be permitted to buy and to sell gold, the Cyzicene stater at ten (?eleven) and a half staters, and on no account at a higher value or greater price, and other gold or silver coinage of all kinds at any rate satisfactory to both the parties concerned. No tax is to be levied either on the sale or the purchase of coined gold or silver...
In closed monetary systems, only official designated coins, normally the current issues of the governing authority, were allowed to circulate and the value of coins was dictated by the governing authority. In the case of bronze coins, their nominal value was generally much greater than the metal they contained. The issuing authority could demonetize such coins at will and remonetize them for a fee by complete recoining, countermarking, or overstriking. In essence, the process essentially imposed a tax on coins in circulation. Such de- and re-monetization may be recognized by massive recoining with new types, countermarking, or restriking, and by existence of hoards which consist virtually entirely of one issue of coins, with no or insignificant numbers of older coins. Many cultures employed such schemes, demonetizing significantly over-valued coins and remonetizing them for a fee. It was a familiar procedure in Europe during the Middle Ages and existed even further afield and more recently. An account of such overstriking in mid-nineteenth century Afghanistan illustrates the process:
The whole of the copper coinage is called in every two or three months, at the will of the ruler of Kandahar (who regulates the value of the shah [a coin denomination] and usually brings them down to half-price for a few days before they are called in), and taken at half price, stamped and reissued at their full value. All which remain in the market of the old supply (unstamped) are called ghat [a very small denomination, probably one-tenth the shah].
Although demonetization and remonetization did not occur in the ancient world with the frequency of Afghanistan or even medieval Europe, the process was basically similar and the most frequent reason that Greek bronze coins were overstruck. Here is a good example from Pantikapiaon in the Crimea, the capitol of the kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporus. Originally struck with Satyr/Lion types, the coins were then demonetized and remonetized by striking them with countermarks from hinged dies bearing a star on one side and a bow in bowcase on the other. These coins were later again demonetized and remonetized by overstriking them with Satyr/Bow and Arrow types. These are very common coins, and enormous hoards are found containing just coins in one state, the initial Satyr/Lion type, or that type with the countermarks, or that type with the countermarks subsequently overstruck with the new types. There does not seem to be any other reasonable explanation of this consistent phenomenon, of one state only circulating at a time.
Overstiking often served more than one purpose. Attic weight Macedonian and Thasian tetradrachms were overstruck during the second century B.C. as Asia cistophori after being pared down to the correct weight. Macedonian and Thasian tetradrachms circulated primarily in the northern Aegean and Greece, while cistophori were current virtually only in the Attalid realm. The process changed both their standard and area of circulation. At Syracuse, bronze issues of Agathocles were massively overstruck by later governments, removing the name of the despised tyrant from the city coinage and raising revenue through the de- and re-monetization by overstriking.
A variety of techniques seem to have been employed in overstriking coins. Some were probably overstruck without any preliminary preparation of the host coin. Many Cretan and Lycian silver overstrikes appear to have been executed in this manner. Other coins were prepared for overstriking by hammering the original relief relatively flat. Some Pontic bronze host coins from the time of Mithradates VI Eupator appear to have been subject both hammering and coarse grinding before overstriking. The Bar Kochba overstrikes on Roman silver coins were routinely prepared by hammering on both the surface and edges. Corinthian-type staters overstruck in large numbers by the Greek cities of southern Italy were trimmed along the edge and then apparently hammered on their edges to increase the thickness of the flan so that overstriking did not result in excessively thin, fragile coins. The determination whether annealing was employed in any particular case requires able and extensive professional metallurgical analysis.
Overstrikes and hoards complement and supplement one another as sources of information and occasionally provide contrasting emphases. Hoards from southern Italy, for example, do not reveal the deep penetration of archaic Akragas didrachms into that area that overstrikes attest nor do Sicilian hoards demonstrate the significant presence of archaic staters of Thasos also attested by overstrikes.
The chronological implications of overstrikes are obvious. An overstrike is later than the particular host coin on which it is struck, but that is not necessarily true for all coins of the two types. An overstrike demonstrates only that the striking of the overtype did not end before the issue of the host coin began. The bulk of the issue of the overtype could actually be later than the bulk of the issue of the host coin, if a late example of the overtype were struck on an early example of the host coin. Still, the chronological implications of overstrikes are sometimes important and even revolutionary. The discovery of overstrikes in recent years have upset the long-accepted chronology of the late Indo-Greek rulers. Until the discovery of this overstrike, it was universally held that Heliocles II ruled before Hermaios, at least a decade earlier and as much as fifty years earlier in some estimates. Actually, the only evidence for this was style, the coins of Heliocles II being generally much finer style than Hermaios’ coins, and in the Indo-Greek series, style tends to degenerate over time. This coin and others discovered subsequently show Hermaios overstruck bronzes of Heliocles II, showing that he could not be much later. Hermaios may, despite style, have been earlier, and at least (and more likely), the two reigns must have overlapped to some degree.
Well, that is my main text, and now I would just like to show you illustrations of another couple of overstrikes that I really like:
The club netted $80 from the donated material. These are the realized prices for the lots listed in the November Chatter; additional lots were consigned just before the auction.
|Date:||December 14, 2005|
|Time:||5:30PM to 6PM Cocktails
6PM to 7PM Hors d’oeuvres
7PM to 9 PM+ Dinner and Meeting
|Location:||Marcello’s Restaurant, 645 West North Avenue, Chicago.|
The evenings menu includes hors d’oeuvres (sponsored by Mark Wieclaw and Glen DeCosta) including bacon wrapped scallops with apricot chutney, Teriyaki chicken skewers with Thai peanut sauce, sun-dried tomato bruschetta and spinach-mushroom pastry puffs. The main meal will include a salad, garlic-oregano broasted chicken, penne pasta with marinara sauce and grilled vegetables. Dessert is caramel, fudge walnut and cream cheese brownie wedges. To eliminate a bartenders fee, there will be a table in our room with California White Zinfandel wine at $5.00 per glass. The restaurant bar down the hall is available for those who wish mixed drinks.
The cost is $25.00 per person and reservations are required. Make your check payable to the Chicago Coin Club and mail it to P.O. Box 2301, Chicago, IL 60690. If your plans develop late, then e-mail Carl Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 773-878-8979.
|Program:||Leonard Augsburger on The Baltimore Gold Hoard|
Mr. Augsburger has completed a great deal of research on this fascinating story that will soon be published into a book. The story took place in 1934 during the Great Depression when two poverty stricken teenagers discovered thousands of U.S. gold coins in the cellar of an east Baltimore tenement. The coins, struck between 1834 and 1856, represented a Civil War era collection, and the population of Baltimore broke forth in a wave of speculation and intrigue amid the lure of buried treasure. Many came forward to stake their claim and sought to take away the prize from the impoverished children. Join us to hear the details of this story and what became of the hoard and the teenagers who found it. Were they able to keep the coins, what happened to them years later, etc.? All these questions will be answered as the story unfolds!
Those who attend this talk should be prepared to experience a flood of childhood memories because this story contains all the elements in the storybooks read to us by our parents and teachers: children discovering buried treasure, the treasure is of unimaginable value, the children are impoverished, and of course, the unscrupulous (evil) adults trying to steal the treasure from the children. What more can you ask for?
Lyle Daly has graciously volunteered to organize a silent auction. He asks members to contact him if they have items they wish to donate. All proceeds will go the the club. He can be contacted at email@example.com. He hopes to have at least 15 items and has collected the following eight treasures so far:
|December||14||CCC Meeting - Annual Banquet - Featured Speaker - Leonard Augsburger on The Baltimore Gold Hoard|
|January||11||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
|February||8||CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced|
All correspondence pertaining to Club matters
should be addressed to the Secretary and mailed to:
CHICAGO COIN CLUB
P.O. Box 2301
CHICAGO, IL 60690
|Robert Feiler||- President|
|Jeff Rosinia||- First Vice President|
|Lyle Daly||- Second Vice President|
|Other positions held are:|
|Bill Burd/Carl Wolf||- Secretary|
|Steve Zitowsky||- Treasurer|
|Paul Hybert||- Chatter Editor|
|William Burd||- Archivist|