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Help me solve a mystery

OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,706 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited November 29, 2023 5:51AM in World & Ancient Coins Forum

I love a good coin mystery, and this one has me seriously puzzled.

Here's a 1930-B British Trade Dollar, with chopmarks. In general the coin looks ok.

But there are 2 red flags with this coin.

The coin has little bumps of silver on the surface. (see pics below)
The chopmarks are about 30 years later than I'd typically expect to see, for this size and style, on a British Trade Dollar.

When I noticed the little silver bumps, I immediately thought cast counterfeit, so I studied the edge. The edge shows zero evidence of any sort of seam, even under microscope. I'm convinced it was struck in collar.

The coin weighs 26.84 g and the size is also correct. Before I purchased the coin, the seller verified the coin with a sigma verifier and it passed with no concerns.

So it seems the like the coin is real, but I can't get over the silver bumps on the surface. I also can't explain the chopmarks, outside of some remote locales were still chopmarking later than we currently understand. Large chopmarks of this style are known into the early 1920's at the very latest, but it's very rare to see them. Point being - it's possible these chops are authentic, but unlikely. Having said that, as someone who has studied many thousands of chopmarks, they look convincingly real to me.

What I'd really like to hear is if someone could explain the silver lumps on the coin. Thanks for any help you can offer.

Comments

  • scubafuelscubafuel Posts: 1,707 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 25, 2023 4:31PM

    I don’t know the series. Having said that, how about die rust? Here is an example from a bust quarter:

  • ELuisELuis Posts: 745 ✭✭✭✭

    I have seen those show up when a silver coin it is put on fire, e.g. using a flame torch (the ones for copper soldering).

  • Casting bubbles would go inwards.

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,706 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks all for the comments so far.

    @scubafuel I considered die rust, but in my experience the rusty areas are patchy. These bums seem more spread out than what I'd expect to see for rust. Maybe?

    @ELuis, also had this thought. If you notice on the obverse, there's a dark black area in front of Liberty's face. The whole coin doesn't look like it was burned, but I do think it's possible the coin was heated up.

    @John Conduitt thanks for the info. I thought that casting bubbles could go outwards too but I guess that makes sense if they are caused by bubbles of air. It would press the metal inwards.

  • ELuisELuis Posts: 745 ✭✭✭✭

    Those darker areas on the chopmarks are way too dark maybe pass a q-tip inside of one, to test it. Just guessing.

  • CryptoCrypto Posts: 3,330 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 26, 2023 4:23PM

    Looks like applied aging to these eyes. The chops also appear to be applied with a modern eye, evenly spaced @ 3,9,6 and 12 to make them look “natural” also the chops don’t have the wear as the rest of the coin (sharp edges).

    Coupled to it would be by far the youngest chops I’ve seen, towards the beginning of the central plains wars and
    that political upheaval. It smells bad to me.

    Here is a 1914 yen but it appears more ceremonially adorn than commercially chopped.

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,706 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Crypto you're right that the chopmarks are later than we've seen, in fact that's what drew me to the coin in the first place as a curiosity. I'll point out that our understanding of chopmark timelines has evolved in the past year. Here's a recent discovery, a 1921 Yuan Shih-kai Dollar with legitimate chopmarks that came out of China a few months ago. I've changed my thinking to understand that chopmarks were likely still in use in scattered areas this late, even if the practice was mostly given up on the broader scale.

    Now having said that, it's going to be much more likely a native Yuan Shih-kai Dollar picks up a few chopmarks in the twilight of the practice vs. a newly imported 1930 British trade dollar, if BTDs were even exported to China this late.

  • sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,352 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @John Conduitt said:
    Casting bubbles would go inwards.

    Raised lumps or bumps, such as displayed on this coin, are a classic sign of a counterfeit. Fake dies or casting molds will often show this lack of finishing.

    The coin looks counterfeit for several other reasons. I don't like the look of the denticles as well as the circle of dots. Or the patina. Too crude. And the chopmarks don't look sharp enough either.

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
  • sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,352 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I also see a difference in the shape of the numerals in the date. The below linked genuine example from Heritage displays shorter, fatter numerals than the O/Ps example.

    The black patina looks heavily applied and wiped off like so many Chinese counterfeits, too. Also, there is no flattening on the other side of the chopmark(s), as with the above 1921 dollar.

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
  • @sellitstore said:

    @John Conduitt said:
    Casting bubbles would go inwards.

    Raised lumps or bumps, such as displayed on this coin, are a classic sign of a counterfeit. Fake dies or casting molds will often show this lack of finishing.

    The coin looks counterfeit for several other reasons. I don't like the look of the denticles as well as the circle of dots. Or the patina. Too crude. And the chopmarks don't look sharp enough either.

    That's true, but that wasn't the assertion.

  • CryptoCrypto Posts: 3,330 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Also a surprising lack of reciprocal damage on the opposite side of the coin from such deep chops

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,706 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Crypto said:
    Also a surprising lack of reciprocal damage on the opposite side of the coin from such deep chops

    This is one of the more concerning aspects of the coin, failed to mention this in the OP.

  • CryptoCrypto Posts: 3,330 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A PCGS graded example at a similar grade for comparison purposes for the thread

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,706 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I suppose that one doesn't show a lot of reciprocal damage to the chops either, @Crypto .

  • CryptoCrypto Posts: 3,330 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @OriginalDan said:
    I suppose that one doesn't show a lot of reciprocal damage to the chops either, @Crypto .

    There is some at 2oclock on the rev and my chops are weirdly shallow. I’m not 100% on them although the dirt and age of the surfaces placates me mostly. There is layers of age inside them

  • ChopmarkedTradesChopmarkedTrades Posts: 493 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Stylistically, I don't like this coin at all. Even Chinese silver crowns of this date don't show chopmarks of this number and size, and this coin shows a dozen different chops; if there was a chopping system large and robust enough to place 12 different chops on the same coin in 1930 or later, you'd expect several more coins around as evidence.

    You and I have each looked at thousands of different chopmarked coins over the past decade or so, and I can't think of a single other non-Chinese coin with chopmarks dated after 1915, and even the Chinese coins from the 1920s and 1930s that exist with chopmarks almost exclusively show small, some nearly minute chopmarks as opposed to the large chops shown here, which almost always are on host coins dated 1910 or earlier.

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,706 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 28, 2023 12:21PM

    @ChopmarkedTrades did you see the 1921 Chinese dollar above?

  • ChopmarkedTradesChopmarkedTrades Posts: 493 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @OriginalDan said:
    @ChopmarkedTrades did you see the 1921 Chinese dollar above?

    I did, and that's certainly an unusual outlier in terms of date and chopmark size, but it's also a domestic Chinese issue, ten years earlier, and has fewer chops; even with all that considered, it's still an unusual piece - the BTD is an order of magnitude more out of place in terms of geography and age.

    If the BTD is authentic, it would certainly change our understanding of chopmarks in the last five or so years that they were being applied to silver crowns (1930-35), before private silver ownership was outlawed.

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,706 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As I said above, I've seen a lot more of these later Chinese dollars with large chops, to the point where my thinking has changed. We are good at noticing macro trends with chopmarks, but I think we tend to discount the outliers quickly and write them off. Now I'm keeping an open mind, given what we can learn from new coins coming out of China.

    A few others, not quite as a late, but more examples we previously thought didn't exist.

    1914 (or later)

    1919

    Multiple characters and large sized chopmarks. I'm not suggesting this proves the 1930 BTD is genuine, or that the chopmarks are genuine, but it does challenge what we thought to be true even a year ago.

  • ChopmarkedTradesChopmarkedTrades Posts: 493 ✭✭✭✭✭

    There may be a historical justification for this particular BTD - the fact that China maintained the silver standard into the 1930s when other countries were abandoning the silver and even the gold standard in the wake of the Depression kept the price of silver high in China compared to the rest of the world; Milton Friedman suggested that the scenario effectively gave China a floating exchange rate, which together caused silver dollars to flood into China in the early 1930s. This phenomenon was killed by FDR's Silver Purchase Act in 1934 and then the removal of private silver ownership in 1935, but there was a potential window when such a piece would make sense even if very few large chops were still being applied.

  • OriginalDanOriginalDan Posts: 3,706 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm still puzzled by this coin, it's not convincingly real or fake. I appreciate the extra detail @ChopmarkedTrades, sounds like there's a small window that could explain the existence of this coin in China. Maybe we can track down a BTD expert to chime in, since I'm stuck trying to make a call on it.

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