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BM02045

George III oval countermark Half Dollar

George III (1760-1820), oval countermark upon Spanish Four Reales of King Charles IIII (1788-1808), 1796 MF, struck in Madrid, small oval hallmark of George III right at centre of obverse, bust of Spanish King laureate and draped right, date below, legend and toothed border surrounding, CAROLVS.IIII. DEI. GRATIA, rev. crowned quartered shield of arms, R over crowned M to left, 4 over MF to right, legend surrounding, .HISPANIARUM. REX. weight 13.63g (ESC 611; Bull 1875; S.3767). Toned, countermark almost extremely fine, host coin good very fine, rare.

These emergency countermarked coins were struck in relation to a crisis with the silver coinage at the end of the 18th Century where the supply of silver in commerce and for the Mint had dwindled due to the Wars in France after the Revolution in 1797. From March 1797 the Bank of England therefore released stocks of its Spanish dollars and halves each with an oval countermark. They did not really alleviate the problem of smaller change and were issued on an off with the oval countermark, until a more complex larger octagonal mark replaced them from January to May 1804, as the oval pieces were being counterfeited. Eventually the octagonal replacements were also copied widely and the ultimate solution was to have the Soho Mint totally overstrike the remaining stocks of Spanish Dollars with the Bank of England design.

Provenance:

Ex Spink Numismatic Circular, November 1994, item 7227

This coin illustrated in "Coinage and Currency in Eighteenth Century Britain, The Provincial Coinage" by David W Dykes, page 39, number 35b.

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