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AM00870

George III oval Countermark on Mexico 1778 FM 8-Reales

George III (1760-1820), oval countermark upon Spanish Eight Reales of King Charles III (1759-88), 1778 FF, struck in Mexico City, Mexico, 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.III. DEI. GRATIA, rev. crowned quartered shield of arms, pillar with ribbon motto either side PLUS ULTRA, legend surrounding, .HISPAN. ET IND. REX. M. 8R.F.F. (ESC 129; Bull 1852; S.3765A). A number of bagmarks and tiny nicks mainly in obverse fields, otherwise with some lustre, countermark extremely fine, host coin almost extremely fine and quite an early date for a Mexico piece, scarce.

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 each with an oval countermark valued at 4s and 9d for currency. 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 Spanish Dollars with the Bank of England design.

Provenance:
Ex Spink Coin Auction 14, 19th March 1981, lot 174.

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