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Why chopmarked coins?

I don’t get the current fascination with chopmarked coins. They are the very definition of post-mint damage.

Folks who collect them: why do you collect them? What do you see in them?

Comments

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,584 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 19, 2023 4:39PM

    I find them very interesting but how does one know if they are real original chopmarks or just done in modern times. I guess you can follow certain coins that are well known in that area that have images dating way back but still I would always be worried and questioning them. counterstamped coins by governments are different that I would feel much more safe collecting.

    The history of them circulating all over the world is what I imagine is the cool part of collecting chopmarked coins. It is interesting but like I said there are probably tons of fakes so not an area I would ever collect.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • lermishlermish Posts: 1,752 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @pruebas said:
    I don’t get the current fascination with chopmarked coins. They are the very definition of post-mint damage.

    Folks who collect them: why do you collect them? What do you see in them?

    I hardly think that the fascination is current. There have been collectors of these for quite some time. The first book going into Chopmarks in depth is nearing its 40th anniversary. @OriginalDan and @ChopmarkedTrades can probably put this more eloquently than me but here I go.

    Collecting coins is fascinating. History and story telling is fascinating also. To be able to collect a coin that one knows has travelled on steam ship, sailing ships, locomotive, horseback, etc, around the world, hundreds of years ago is an awesome way of collecting. It shows that the coins were used as intended and they tell the story of economy, travel, and more over a course of hundreds of years.

    Also, to be a little bit defensive, almost every single coin collected by anybody graded lower than 69 or so has post mint damage. That little bit of rub or tick in the field? That's post mint damage. Except a chopmark is proof that a coin was used in commerce, not that Eliasberg or Longacre or some random 19th century numismatist accidentally let one proof lightly nudge the tip of their finger. If one wanted to be unkind (and I don't believe this because I like all coins), one could say that all proof and high end mint state coins are no different than the Franklin Mint or collectible thimbles or baseball cards, just something manufactured solely for collecting and not for use. What would one see in them?

  • lermishlermish Posts: 1,752 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 19, 2023 1:47PM

    @PillarDollarCollector said:
    I find them very interesting but how does one know if they are real original chopmarks or just done in modern times. I guess you can follow certain coins that are well known in that area that have images dating way back but still I would always be worried and questioning them. Counter-stamped coins by governments are different that I would feel much more safe collecting.

    There is a fair amount of study regarding these and questionable, dubious, or fake chops are fairly easy to identify for the experts, or even a somewhat new collector like myself.

    Also, chopmarked coins are almost always less valuable than non-chopmarked coins. There is not a lot of incentive in modern days to attempt to place fake chops on a coin.

    EDIT: I would bet there are many more fake counterstamps around than fake chops.

  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Posts: 1,654 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 19, 2023 1:52PM

    A poll of chop marked coin collectors, with regard to why they choose to collect these coins, would likely produce as many diverse reasons as there are different chops.

    I would not consider myself to be a chopmarked coin collector per se but I do have a couple of examples. For me, these coins speak to the history of global trade and to the fact that Spanish Colonial coinage essentially performed as the dominant world currency for many years. The idea that this coinage managed to reach the far corners of the globe and be accepted as good payment is something that I also find to be interesting.

    What puzzles me is "Why shipwreck coins".
    You still have post mint damage, except in most cases, the coins are barely recognizable.
    At least with chopped coins, the details can remain very strong.



     

  • SapyxSapyx Posts: 1,959 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @pruebas said:
    I don’t get the current fascination with chopmarked coins. They are the very definition of post-mint damage.

    Folks who collect them: why do you collect them? What do you see in them?

    @JohnnyCache said:
    What puzzles me is "Why shipwreck coins".
    You still have post mint damage, except in most cases, the coins are barely recognizable.
    At least with chopped coins, the details can remain very strong.

    In the case of both chopmarked coins and shipwreck coins, it's all about the provenance, the story behind the item rather than the item itself.

    A "shipwreck coin" that cannot be linked to a specific wreck is just a badly corroded coin, but a proven provenance link to a specific ship makes it a historic artifact independent of its existence as a coin: you know that that coin was on that ship when it went down, and stayed there until divers recovered it - and for many shipwreck coins you probably also have records of the recovery date.

    A chopmarked coin is likewise evidence of the coin's history, "proof" that it actually saw trade in China, used as money (or as bullion) rather than squirreled away by some wealthy aristocrat coin collector.

    Perhaps adding to the allure of shipwreck coins is the fact that many governments protect the historic shipwrecks within their waters, and the treasures within them belong to the State; most shipwreck coins are in government-owned museums and thus never come onto the market. So shipwreck coins in private hands are in the minority.

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.
    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

    Apparently I have been awarded one DPOTD. B)
  • bidaskbidask Posts: 13,812 ✭✭✭✭✭

    https://www.pcgs.com/news/kyle-ponterio-sale

    May add some color to this discussion

    I manage money. I earn money. I save money .
    I give away money. I collect money.
    I don’t love money . I do love the Lord God.




  • pruebaspruebas Posts: 4,276 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @bidask said:
    https://www.pcgs.com/news/kyle-ponterio-sale

    May add some color to this discussion

    @bidask, counterstamped coins are different. They were (usually) stamped by a governmental authority to change the terms of use of existing money (change denomination, or validity of some kind).

    That is MUCH different than a private merchant defacing a coin because he wanted to make sure he could accept it.

    In my mind, chopmarking is defacement and the resulting coins are far from desirable.

    But I guess there are collectors of love tokens, hobo nickels, and other defaced coins, so why not chops.

  • bidaskbidask Posts: 13,812 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I know nothing ...really about this topic. ;)

    I manage money. I earn money. I save money .
    I give away money. I collect money.
    I don’t love money . I do love the Lord God.




  • lermishlermish Posts: 1,752 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @pruebas said:

    @bidask said:
    https://www.pcgs.com/news/kyle-ponterio-sale

    May add some color to this discussion

    @bidask, counterstamped coins are different. They were (usually) stamped by a governmental authority to change the terms of use of existing money (change denomination, or validity of some kind).

    That is MUCH different than a private merchant defacing a coin because he wanted to make sure he could accept it.

    In my mind, chopmarking is defacement and the resulting coins are far from desirable.

    But I guess there are collectors of love tokens, hobo nickels, and other defaced coins, so why not chops.

    Just like there are collectors of medals and modern coins. In my mind, those are far from desirable. But I guess there are collectors of thimbles, video games, and other ephemera, so why not medals and modern coins

    /s.

  • I don’t get the current fascination with criticizing the collecting interests of others. They are the very definition of rude and inconsiderate.

    Folks who feel the need to do this: why do you think it's okay to express scorn or disdain for others interests? What do you hope to gain from this behavior?

  • bidaskbidask Posts: 13,812 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @coins_i_like said:
    I don’t get the current fascination with criticizing the collecting interests of others. They are the very definition of rude and inconsiderate.

    Folks who feel the need to do this: why do you think it's okay to express scorn or disdain for others interests? What do you hope to gain from this behavior?

    What coins do you like ? :) Just curious.

    I manage money. I earn money. I save money .
    I give away money. I collect money.
    I don’t love money . I do love the Lord God.




  • @bidask said:

    @coins_i_like said:
    I don’t get the current fascination with criticizing the collecting interests of others. They are the very definition of rude and inconsiderate.

    Folks who feel the need to do this: why do you think it's okay to express scorn or disdain for others interests? What do you hope to gain from this behavior?

    What coins do you like ? :) Just curious.

    Various interests. Chop marked coins. Various coins of trade (8 Reales, Piastres, Yen, BTD, etc). Tokugawa era coins.

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

    @pruebas you sound really sour on chopmarked coins. What's driving this?

  • coinkatcoinkat Posts: 22,659 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I see it as an extension of coin collecting that captures commerce and trade at various times and locations. I think I have 3 US Trade Dollars; 1 8R from Mexico and a so-called gin marked Yen. I am intrigued with the history and stories...

    Experience the World through Numismatics...it's more than you can imagine.

  • SapyxSapyx Posts: 1,959 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The core difference between chopmarks and love tokens/hobo nickels/elongated coins/other defaced coins is usually the purpose for the defacement. Love tokens, hobo nickels and elongated coins are all coins that have been repurposed into mementos or works of art - they are no longer coins. Chopmarks were done to facilitate trade - the original purpose of the coin - so they remain coins. In that sense, they are similar to and related to countermarked coins - with the obvious difference that it was private individuals, rather than a government, that was doing the chopmarking. But this is entirely due to Chinese culture of the day: silver was seen as a "commodity", not "money"; as such, the Chinese government traditionally had little interest in making silver coinage or otherwise controlling or regulating the trade in silver. If it had occurred to the Chinese government that they could or should be countermarking foreign coins, they would have done so. But their attitude was, "that's not our job".

    To me, Chinese chopmarks are entirely similar to Egyptian "test cuts", very often found on ancient Greek coins that are dug up in Egypt. Just like the 19th century Chinese, the ancient Egyptians did not trust these weird foreign "coin" things, and wished to ensure that the coins they received really were good silver - so they smashed them open with a chisel. Every single silver coin entering Egypt suffered this fate. Some such coins are nearly cut clean in half by this process; example from CNG auction. Now, an Athenian owl tetradrachm with a deep test cut isn't going to be as valuable as a pristine, uncut example - but it's still of interest, both archaeologically and numismatically, particularly as the test cut is evidence that that specific coin circulated in ancient Egypt, and was probably found in Egypt.

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.
    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

    Apparently I have been awarded one DPOTD. B)
  • pruebaspruebas Posts: 4,276 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @OriginalDan said:
    @pruebas you sound really sour on chopmarked coins. What's driving this?

    Not at all. And I’m not criticizing anyone for collecting them.

    In just wondering what folks see in them.

    They used to be considered damage to an otherwise collectible coin. Sure a few folks collected them (Frank Rose, for one), but now it seems that they are some folks pure collecting interest.

  • jdmernjdmern Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    One of the coolest things about this hobby is that everyone has different things that speak to them. For the most part, Chopmarked and Shipwreck coins don't really do it for me either, but there are certainly exceptions- I sold a Taiwanese Old Man dollar years back that was about as chopmarked as a piece can get that I wish I held on to.

    Justin Meunier

    Boardwalk Numismatics

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,584 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 19, 2023 6:07PM

    @OriginalDan said:
    Thanks for that explanation @pruebas, I understand now. I can give you my take, as I'm one of those folks who primarily focuses on coins chopmarked in Asia. I'll also add up front that I've been perfectly happy that not too many folks were into chopmarked coins...lower interest in them meant lower prices. Now we see every newly minted Witter U young numismatist asking huge prices for common coins on instagram, but I suspect that's not unique to chopmarked coins.

    A lot of my reasons are already stated by others above, @lermish did a fine job.

    Personally, I'm fascinated by the expansion of the world through trade, where so many countries were newly connected by evolving technology in ship building and map making. The majority of this expansion involved a new connection between the west and China, and there was broad worldwide involvement because those ships stopped off at many various ports along the way.

    I collect chopmarked coins by type, and in doing so I've learned a tremendous amount of history through the collection I've built. I can honestly say that I understand the world today better because of this collecting path. Whenever I acquire a new coin, I go research the same question each time "how could this coin have ended up in China?" or put differently "what was going on in this country around this date that explains the chopmarks?"

    Some examples to illustrate:

    You see damaged coins. I see the documented historical record told through coins.

    WOW!!! A 1732 milled with chopmarks I have never seen one in the 4 years I have been collecting. And you have the 2 reales to boot again the only 1732 milled denomination I have yet seen come up for sale (in the 4 years I have been looking at auctions).

    And it is the rarer version with the denomination on the coin. A dream coin!!!

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • ChopmarkedTradesChopmarkedTrades Posts: 493 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 19, 2023 6:17PM

    At least for me, the appeal is that chopmarked coins follow more of the rules of artifacts than they do conventional numismatics. It's not just about the circumstances of the coin's production and survival, it's a tangible piece of international trade and travel. Here's an example to illustrate the idea (not my coin, unfortunately):

    **(1818) British Honduras (Belize) Six Shillings, One Pence Counterstamp, Mexico 1818-Mo Eight Reales Host **

    European military powers repeatedly probed the holdings of the Spanish Empire in the Americas, raiding settlements and vessels alike in their search for their own foothold in the region, and the Caribbean was a particularly appealing target for ambitious explorers. Initially a mark for buccaneers, over subsequent generations British settlements emerged along the Yucatán Peninsula, developing an economy based on the exportation of logwood (including via contraband, as Spanish naval vessels were instructed to apprehend British smugglers freighting dyewoods, a component of larger British smuggling activities throughout the Caribbean, which spilled over into armed conflict with Spain). The British rights to this trade were formalized by the Treaty of Versailles (1783) and the Convention of London (1786), though the region would not explicitly become a British colony until 1862. Despite its informal nature, British authority was sufficiently established by the time of the wave of Latin American revolutions in the early 19th century to authorize the production of a series of counterstamps on locally circulating coinage bearing the monogram of the king (‘GR’); these are speculated to have most likely been either a means to ensure acceptance among the indigenous populations or to promote local circulation during the ongoing period of war, per Krause. These counterstamps exist in square, rectangular, and oval indents, with an octagonal variation thought to be a counterfeit. Rare with chopmarks, the counterstamps were certainly not intended to encourage export. One potential means by which a type such as this may have found its way to China is through the channels of American commerce; United States merchants regularly obtained silver crowns by engaging in trade throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, before exporting them to China in exchange for teas and related goods that could only be procured via Canton (Guangzhou).

    So this is a coin that manages to tie together Mexico in the waning years of Spanish authority, the British colonial period in Latin America, smuggling in the Caribbean, the nascent American trade, and the China trade all in one. It's less about the preservation of the coin itself than all the interesting crossed wires and historical episodes that the coin touches on. Even relatively common chopmarked Mexican pieces represent a journey of thousands of miles and tie in heavily to the fortunes of the Bourbon dynasty in Spain, the emergence of Latin American independence, and the changing fortunes of China in the 19th century.

    To me, targeting chopmarked coins is like preferring a beat-up sword recovered from Gettysburg vs. the same style of weapon that was sold as surplus without ever leaving the box it was shipped in.

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

    @PillarDollarCollector said:
    WOW!!! A 1732 milled with chopmarks I have never seen one in the 4 years I have been collecting. And you have the 2 reales to boot again the only 1732 milled denomination I have yet seen come up for sale (in the 4 years I have been looking at auctions).

    And it is the rarer version with the denomination on the coin. A dream coin!!!

    Perhaps the chopmarks explain why the coin is very rare. Maybe a chest of these went to China? And if so, many were melted.

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,584 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 19, 2023 8:39PM

    @OriginalDan said:

    @PillarDollarCollector said:
    WOW!!! A 1732 milled with chopmarks I have never seen one in the 4 years I have been collecting. And you have the 2 reales to boot again the only 1732 milled denomination I have yet seen come up for sale (in the 4 years I have been looking at auctions).

    And it is the rarer version with the denomination on the coin. A dream coin!!!

    Perhaps the chopmarks explain why the coin is very rare. Maybe a chest of these went to China? And if so, many were melted.

    Your 1732 milled is the 1st ever machine made coins in the New World same goes for the 1/2 real up to the 8 reales. The 1732 it is believed less than 10 exist total in any grade. I doubt many went out of the New World. They are all museum pieces to me and you may have the jackpot there of chopmarked Mexican coinage.

    There were very few 1732 milled type produced and most known do not have the denomination on the coin (exception is the 8 reales).

    Your coin is a major rarity and I am sure the market would go crazy for it if and when you sell it.

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • PillarDollarCollectorPillarDollarCollector Posts: 4,584 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @PillarDollarCollector said:

    @OriginalDan said:
    Thanks for that explanation @pruebas, I understand now. I can give you my take, as I'm one of those folks who primarily focuses on coins chopmarked in Asia. I'll also add up front that I've been perfectly happy that not too many folks were into chopmarked coins...lower interest in them meant lower prices. Now we see every newly minted Witter U young numismatist asking huge prices for common coins on instagram, but I suspect that's not unique to chopmarked coins.

    A lot of my reasons are already stated by others above, @lermish did a fine job.

    Personally, I'm fascinated by the expansion of the world through trade, where so many countries were newly connected by evolving technology in ship building and map making. The majority of this expansion involved a new connection between the west and China, and there was broad worldwide involvement because those ships stopped off at many various ports along the way.

    I collect chopmarked coins by type, and in doing so I've learned a tremendous amount of history through the collection I've built. I can honestly say that I understand the world today better because of this collecting path. Whenever I acquire a new coin, I go research the same question each time "how could this coin have ended up in China?" or put differently "what was going on in this country around this date that explains the chopmarks?"

    Some examples to illustrate:

    You see damaged coins. I see the documented historical record told through coins.

    WOW!!! A 1732 milled with chopmarks I have never seen one in the 4 years I have been collecting. And you have the 2 reales to boot again the only 1732 milled denomination I have yet seen come up for sale (in the 4 years I have been looking at auctions).

    And it is the rarer version with the denomination on the coin. A dream coin!!!

    Has anyone here ever seen a milled 1732 with chopmarks before this piece?

    Collecting interests: Mexico & Peru early milled 1 reales + 1796-1891 US dimes

    Sports: NHL & NFL

    Thank you Lord for another beautiful day!!!

  • SimonWSimonW Posts: 555 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That 1732 2R is a treasure, I want it!…very nice @OriginalDan

    I'm BACK!!! Used to be Billet7 on the old forum.

  • ELuisELuis Posts: 758 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 20, 2023 11:48AM

    I like that 1732 2R too.

    This below it is for sale as 1732 is a 1/2R, can be read as 1732 but obvious is a 1738:

  • RexfordRexford Posts: 1,113 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 20, 2023 12:36PM

    I think people can and should collect whatever they like, and I understand the draw of chopmarked coins at some level. However, I also think it would be fairly simple to manufacture counterfeit chopmarks, as the vast majority of the thousands of genuine chops are untraceable in regards to place and time of origin. It’s not the same as trying to authenticate a countermark, for example (which can already be difficult enough at times). You can somewhat reliably try to buy original looking pieces with “old” looking chops, but there is a level of uncertainty to the whole subject that counterfeiters can and will fairly easily take advantage of, in the event that chopmarked types command greater value than comparable unchopmarked examples. Thus I don’t find it very sensical to pay a large premium for chopmarked pieces.

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