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A Small Change Civil War History Mystery

TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭
edited February 27, 2024 12:07PM in U.S. Coin Forum

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN A COUPLE OF POSTS FOR LARGER IMAGES!

https://images.pcgs.com/trueview/48418236_medium.jpg

https://images.pcgs.com/trueview/48418235_medium.jpg

https://images.pcgs.com/trueview/48418234_medium.jpg

The condition of these New Orleans minted coins seems to suggest that they were put away in the time of the Civil War. The stamped WI I assume is Wisconsin, “DAI” Is unknown, to me anyway. Was this loot liberated from a Louisiana plantation? And why were the coins then counterstamped?

Suspects abound: During the Civil War, many Wisconsin regiments saw action in Louisiana, including the (predominately Irish) 17th Infantry, the 4th Infantry (which mounted up and became Cavalry later in the war), and the 8th, 23rd, 25th, and 29th Infantries.
I am no historian, but maybe some Civil War buffs can shed some light here.

30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    Pardon the flagrant waste of excessive electrons, I’m crawling up the learning curve…..

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    tokenprotokenpro Posts: 846 ✭✭✭✭✭

    To me the inquiry seems to be a number of unrelated assumptions beginning with assuming that WI. is an abbreviation for Wisconsin. WI is a modern two letter USPS abbreviation which was not used until the late 20th Century. Wisconsin was abbreviated Wis. on the notes and Civil War tokens of the time as well as on maps and government documents. The counterstamps were most probably done for one of the main reasons for stamping coins - advertising, testing private stamps or personal reasons. WI. DAI. is not a listed c/s in Brunk and appears that it may be individual punches rather than a logotype stamp. The only thing that can be said about the JI. c/s is that it appears to be from the same set of punches as the DAI c/s.

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    jayPemjayPem Posts: 4,047 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That's a pretty exciting set of coins!
    The toning and condition are nicely matched... if yours, did you aquire them all together?

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    RobertScotLoverRobertScotLover Posts: 615 ✭✭✭✭

    I think these are Beautiful examples, just disappointed with nondescriptive/insignificant c/s

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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    They were bought as part of an accumulation of coins about 20 years ago, and I set them aside for ‘further study,’ not knowing then, or now, what they are.

    The counterstamps are intriguing. I’m not sure if the WI.DAI. is a single punch, because I don’t have the skills to do a photo overlay to see if they line up exactly. If it’s not a single punch, then someone with a very deft hand did a very accurate job in lining up the 8 individual punches that would have been involved.

    @tokenpro makes a good point about my assumption that WI indicated Wisconsin. WIS is certainly the most common abbreviation for Wisconsin prior to our modern postal era. But for ‘in the field’ work that I suspect may have occurred, WI could serve as a practical shorthand for Wisconsin.

    But all is debatable. The Civil War era dating of the hoard by condition seems pretty solid. The markings were carefully and deliberately executed. But they don’t seem commercial or political in nature, like most of the counterstamps listed in Brunk. Nor do they seem the least bit personal in nature, such as a love token or engraved coin would be.

    I just posted these odd ducks out there hoping for some answers.

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    Correction: 7 punches, not 8.

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    @RobertScotLover

    Yes, they are nice original toned coins. The fun part (to me, anyway) is the question of just what the c/s is all about.

    But, please, there’s no need to be ‘disappointed’ that you find them not ‘significant.’

    If I’d found some Brunk-listed c/s, I wouldn’t have thought it worth posting here.

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    DCWDCW Posts: 6,977 ✭✭✭✭✭

    They are most certainly a single punch as you can eyeball the I slanted towards the W in both examples. People would counterstamp coins for advertising in those days or to turn it into a redeemable tolen for greater value if brought back to the merchant.

    I would research possible combinations of those abbreviated words. Like:
    "WINSTON DAIRY" and other names you can concoct. Most likely, given the New Orleans mintmark, this is from a merchant from the South sometime within 10 years or so of 1854-9. And it would seem you have the proprietor's initials already. "J.I."

    Clues to keep you busy (and most likely frustrated.)

    Good luck

    Dead Cat Waltz Exonumia
    "Coin collecting for outcasts..."

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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    @DCW

    Thanks for the research ideas!

    aBusy? - Fine!
    Frustrated? Never! It’s a hobby, a game, a pasttime.

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,564 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 28, 2024 9:02AM

    I like them. Obviously an original vintage group. However, I agree that “WI” is probably not Wisconsin.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
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    seanqseanq Posts: 8,578 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway said:
    I like them. Obviously an original vintage group. However, I agree that “WI” is probably not Wisconsin.

    My first thought when I saw it was WILLIAM, but it could just as easily be a last name.

    Sean Reynolds

    Incomplete planchets wanted, especially Lincoln Cents & type coins.

    "Keep in mind that most of what passes as numismatic information is no more than tested opinion at best, and marketing blather at worst. However, I try to choose my words carefully, since I know that you guys are always watching." - Joe O'Connor
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    BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,486 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Just about everyone, North and South, hoarded silver and gold coins during the Civil War because they were worth more than their face value in paper money. Therefore, it is not unusual to see lightly circulated coins in EF or better from this period. They ended up in family hoards, became heirlooms and are now available to collectors.

    As for the counterstamps, I agree with the what they others have said. A business might have used them for advertising, testing punches or simply to satisfy a personal whim.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
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    Davidk7Davidk7 Posts: 236 ✭✭✭

    I love the surfaces on these!

    Collector of Capped Bust Halves, SLQ's, Commems, and random cool stuff! @davidv_numismatics on Instagram

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    jesbrokenjesbroken Posts: 9,318 ✭✭✭✭✭

    No telling when the initials were placed on the coins. But a better guess might be Wisconsin Division of Adult Institutions. Many prisoners were known to counterstamp coins just for the fun of it and perhaps unknown reasons. Prisoners were given letters which may have even been addressed as such. Just guessing. Obviously WIsconsin DAIry could be used but why the period after DAI? Interesting. Let us know if you discover more.
    Jim


    When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest....Abraham Lincoln

    Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.....Mark Twain
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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    Yes, I ran into the Wisconsin Division of Adult Institutions during my, uh, extensive Googl search.
    My guess is that DAI is a modern title for what was probably called Wisconsin Correctional or Penal or Prisons or just Wisconsin Hoosegow 150 or so years ago.

    On another avenue, I found also a WIlliam DAI on linkedin who is a venture capitalist in Palo Alto. Maybe I should just see if he’d be interested in them….

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    Aegis3Aegis3 Posts: 2,896 ✭✭✭

    I'm thinking of the initials of family members, possibly husband/wife/child, obviously with a last name starting "I". But just speculation, of course.

    --

    Ed. S.

    (EJS)
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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭
    edited February 29, 2024 7:18AM

    Speculation, guess, conjecture, anachronisms, all are welcome.

    After taking some long looks at WI.DAI. I agree with @DCW that they were made via a single punch.
    Also in agreement with @CaptHenway that it’s an original vintage group.

    My own guess is that the c/s with its abbreviations would not have served well as viable advertising. ‘Pears Soap’, ‘Shattuck’s Water Cure’, ‘Joe’s Bar 123 Main St’ are what advertising looks like.

    It looks to me more like an identifier, as when you mark a tool to denote ownership.

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,564 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @seanq said:

    @CaptHenway said:
    I like them. Obviously an original vintage group. However, I agree that “WI” is probably not Wisconsin.

    My first thought when I saw it was WILLIAM, but it could just as easily be a last name.

    Sean Reynolds

    I think "William" would have been abbreviated as "Wm."

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
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    JBKJBK Posts: 14,788 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't think they were made using a single punch.

    If there existed back then (as does today) some sort of frame or handle to hold individual punches where there could be slight play between the letters, then I might buy into that...

    However, the different relationships between the A and I are most obvious to me, as is the placement of the final "period".

    Also, the periods have the look of being stamped separately based on the increased mounding around them.


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    TypekatTypekat Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    @JBK
    Thanks for the good work in breaking out the two c/s and lining them up for easy comparison.

    You’re right - they may have been organized in a rack, somewhat like old typesetting was done.

    30+ years coin shop experience (ret.) Coins, bullion, currency, scrap & interesting folks. Loved every minute!

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