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Politically defaced coins


The Eidolon
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In the era before widespread free speech, defacing coinage was one way to anonymously make a political statement.

I think I only have two clear examples, both coincidentally involving a Napoleon.

France, 5 Francs, 1807, Emperor Napoleon.  Someone did not care for the (former?) emperor and repeatedly struck the face with a sharp object.1602096452_FranceNapoleon5Francs1807.jpeg.c01090de4d7e2c9474d813953f6370de.jpeg

France, 2 Francs, 1866, Napoleon III "Sedan".  Probably a commentary protesting his loss in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 and capture at Sedan.1614351753_NapoleonIII2Fr186622Sedan22.jpeg.d80d110a32ec314015771bf531ee8c84.jpeg

I think this type of coin is an interesting snapshot into history.  I don't seem to be competing with a lot of other collectors of defaced coinage, so the prices are usually quite reasonable.  If you have any examples of something similar, please post!

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I collect these so I have a few. I posted a couple yesterday somewhere. I think the Sedan ones aren't too expensive as there are a lot of them. The French really went to town and even started making souvenir versions (like Hobo Nickels).

Napoléon III Five Francs, 1870

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Paris. Silver, 36mm, 24.84g. Laureate head left, mintmark A; SEDAN stamped on neck. Crowned and mantled coat-of-arms within collar; behind, scepter and Hand of Justice crossed in saltire (VG 739; cf Collignon, Guerre p. 56 note). Napoléon III did so badly in the 1870 war against the Prussians, the French took enmasse to defacing his coins with ever more insulting slogans and costumes, before (and after) deposing him.

Ferdinand II of Bourbon One Hundred and Twenty Grana, 1841

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Napoli. Silver, 37mm, 27.12g. Young bearded head to right, date below; FERDINANDVS II. DEI GRATIA REX; Star engraved on face. Crowned shield of 6-fold arms, with central shield, value G.120 below; REGNI VTR. SIC. ET HIER. Edge: PROVIDENCIA OPTIMI PRINCIPIS + (KM 346; cf MIR (Naples) 501/1). Defaced with the Star of Italy in the run up to the uprisings of 1848. The star represented the destiny of Italy and was a symbol of Italian unification, of which Ferdinand II was an opponent.

The US coins tend to be pricy. One of these in good condition is not cheap.

Modified Matron Head Type 1 Cent, 1836

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Philadelphia. Copper, 28mm, 10.24g. Bust left, 13 stars surrounding, date below, LIBERTY; VOTE THE LAND / FREE counterstamp. Denomination within wreath, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ONE CENT (Brunk V-110; Rulau-Y1; HT-833; DeWitt-MVB 1848-3. On Cent: KM 45.1). Thought to have been made by the National Reform Association, a political movement involved in the 1844 presidential election. Its members were activists focused on labour movements and land reform. They thought speculators had bought up the desirable frontier lands, leaving nothing for everyone else, and proposed making it easier to own a farm.

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When the marks are somewhat random-looking it's pretty hard to prove they were done intentionally... I really like the first coin where it seems quite clear!  Very cool.

On ancients, there are vanishingly few types where we know there was a systematic practice of damnatio, but here's one of them (36mm and 30.9g):

image.jpeg.521f15dbcec93d53216a3837fc8f0f92.jpeg

Quite a few of these double portrait large bronzes from Stratonikaia (Caria) have been found with one of the portraits erased.  After Caracalla murdered his brother Geta (right in front of their mother, Julia Domna!), all of Geta's statues were destroyed and his name erased from monuments.  Possibly many Geta coins were melted down, but the mintmaster in Stratonikaia decided to do... this.  A lot of work for his lowly mint workers, I'd say!  (There's also a couple of countermarks, a head of Athena and "ΘΕΟΥ".

I'd like to get one of those defaced Napoleon III Sedan coins, especially a carved one as mentioned by @John Conduitt.  And I seek very few moderns...

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The most interesting defaced American coins has to be the "Hobo Nickels". The early 20th century was a unique period in American history. Many people were living "high on the hog" & many others were living in dire poverty. Soldiers returning home from WW I couldn't find work, & they were joined by immigrants & minorities. In order to survive many of America's poor chose the hobo life style, hopping trains & living in box cars, going from city to city looking for work. Some of these hobos were talented engravers & would carve buffalo nickels with the hope of selling them for a dollar or two, or trading them for food. Hence, the "hobo nickel" was born 😊. Hobo nickels from the early classic period are very collectable & bring strong prices at auction. Pictured below is a classic period hobo nickel I bought a long time ago from a dealer in Leroy, NY.

195949004_!913HoboNickelAlKowskyCollection.jpg.cfbf4f624b3788eec8dc63063d11710f.jpg

The most sought after of all hobo nickels are the ones carved by George Washington "Bo" Hughes, the only black/Negro hobo on record who carved in the classic period. His best coins bring astonishing prices at auction. Pictured below are two of his coins that were auctioned by Heritage recently.

485714046_BoHughes41OrleansBound.jpg.a0b9fe2ac94a9a1377fa4f9a58aa0b7c.jpg

This nickel was signed & dated by Bo Hughes on the obverse, & depicts Bo's best friend Bert Wiegand, a white/Caucasian hobo & traveling companion of Bo's. This coin is the best documented nickel of Bo's. During the years 1934 to 1941 Bo & Bert worked on a farm in South Dakota, & Bo taught Bert how to carve nickels. Bert's nickels are highly prized too. When Bo finally left the farm in 1941 he gave the farmer 4 of his nickels, this coin being one of them, it sold for $7,500.00 🤩!

1989367952_BoHughesFDR40.jpg.9dc98af880f75f7eb11f99099ac6d3da.jpg

This coin is certainly making a loud political statement 🤣. Bo has transformed the buffalo into a donkey, & "FDR 40" is engraved above the donkey. This coin sold for the jaw-dropping price of $9,600.00 😲!!!

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21 minutes ago, Al Kowsky said:

The most interesting defaced American coins has to be the "Hobo Nickels". The early 20th century was a unique period in American history. Many people were living "high on the hog" & many others were living in dire poverty. Soldiers returning home from WW I couldn't find work, & they were joined by immigrants & minorities. In order to survive many of America's poor chose the hobo life style, hopping trains & living in box cars, going from city to city looking for work. Some of these hobos were talented engravers & would carve buffalo nickels with the hope of selling them for a dollar or two, or trading them for food. Hence, the "hobo nickel" was born 😊. Hobo nickels from the early classic period are very collectable & bring strong prices at auction. Pictured below is a classic period hobo nickel I bought a long time ago from a dealer in Leroy, NY.

195949004_!913HoboNickelAlKowskyCollection.jpg.cfbf4f624b3788eec8dc63063d11710f.jpg

The most sought after of all hobo nickels are the ones carved by George Washington "Bo" Hughes, the only black/Negro hobo on record who carved in the classic period. His best coins bring astonishing prices at auction. Pictured below are two of his coins that were auctioned by Heritage recently.

485714046_BoHughes41OrleansBound.jpg.a0b9fe2ac94a9a1377fa4f9a58aa0b7c.jpg

This nickel was signed & dated by Bo Hughes on the obverse, & depicts Bo's best friend Bert Wiegand, a white/Caucasian hobo & traveling companion of Bo's. This coin is the best documented nickel of Bo's. During the years 1934 to 1941 Bo & Bert worked on a farm in South Dakota, & Bo taught Bert how to carve nickels. Bert's nickels are highly prized too. When Bo finally left the farm in 1941 he gave the farmer 4 of his nickels, this coin being one of them, it sold for $7,500.00 🤩!

1989367952_BoHughesFDR40.jpg.9dc98af880f75f7eb11f99099ac6d3da.jpg

This coin is certainly making a loud political statement 🤣. Bo has transformed the buffalo into a donkey, & "FDR 40" is engraved above the donkey. This coin sold for the jaw-dropping price of $9,600.00 😲!!!

I have to make a correction on the prices I quoted on this post 🙄. The 1st coin pictured by Bo Hughes sold for $5,280.00, & the "FDR 40" nickel sold for $7,500.00. Duh...

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  • 4 weeks later...

My 2X2's artwork I did...

I got this idea from a magazine ad that had an egg behind jail bars. So I cut out the jails bars including the jail bars shadows and reduced to my 2X2 holder then had it photo copied to an over head clear plastic transparency then used a craft plastic rivet thingy to keep it in place (to be able to move the transparency out of the way for better coin viewing. This coin is from Iraq . I think if I remember correctly ? When Saddam Hussein was caught or put to death this coin went for $90.00 on Ebay . Now it ranges from $20-40 depending what grade it is. Mine is quite nice for the grade. Just for fun.

If this offends anyone ?  Tell someone to take it down.

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George IV 2nd Issue Penny, 1826image.png.a1ab0514ab2dacf89930c72c1d8a1ca9.pngLondon. Copper, 34mm, 18.32g. Laureate portrait of King George IV facing left, legend around, date below; GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA. Seated figure of Britannia facing right, trident in left hand and shield bearing the Union flag in right, legend around and national flower emblems in exergue, BRITANNIAR: REX FID: DEF: (S 3823). Engraved 'patron of vice & frivolity' in response to his extravagance. In 1820, when he tried to divorce Queen Caroline for adultery, she became an anti-monarch figure, enabling activists to overcome state censorship and revitalize reform. It was also the run up to the Catholic Emancipation Act 1828.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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The two and five francs of Napoleon III with Sedan stamped on the obverse was done to mark his defeat and debacle at Sedan, during the Franco Prussian War.  Napoleon III was widely despised by the French people, so the Sedan stamp was their way of saying good riddance to an autocratic ruler. 

What followed Napoleon III's defeat and capture by the Prussians was the Commune of Paris, but that's another story.

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2 hours ago, Qcumbor said:

Here's one british 10 pence with letters overstamped on both sides. The first one, UVF, obviously stands for Ulster Volonteer Force, a paramilitary group active during the troubles in Ireland, but the other, PTW or PWT, stumbles me. Any idea ?

d6daa20954fd49039f10560d2fa9741f.jpg

Q

 

It could be a slogan of some sort. P for protestant. If it’s an organisation, it wasn’t a successful one!

The coin is a bit odd. Having letters like PTW in a triangle rather than a line is unusual. It’s very crude. The date is late - most UVF coins are a decade or three earlier. And it has a protestant stamp on a British coin, when most would be on Irish coins. There are coins that break these rules, of course.

It might then be an individual copying the concept of counterstamping rather than anything organised. I suppose it could be in protest of the peace process that began in earnest in 1993/4.

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On 7/30/2022 at 12:12 PM, John Conduitt said:

The coin is a bit odd. Having letters like PTW in a triangle rather than a line is unusual. It’s very crude. The date is late - most UVF coins are a decade or three earlier. And it has a protestant stamp on a British coin, when most would be on Irish coins. There are coins that break these rules, of course.

It might then be an individual copying the concept of counterstamping rather than anything organised. I suppose it could be in protest of the peace process that began in earnest in 1993/4.

You may be right in your assumptions. I found it in circulation in England. i couldn't precisely date the find though, since we are visiting the UK almost every year.

Q

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Two more, french this time

OAS was also a paramilitary organization, fighting against the independance of Algeria in the early 60's

a3576e8ccf924cf0826eb855667e54a2.jpg

 

The following one is my preferred, since I found it at my paternal grand parents' house when I was a kid. Someone during WW2 didn't find the french government from Vichy (pro Nazi) to their liking and showed their preference for De Gaulle and la "France libre", but mistakenly wrote De Gaule with just one L (Gaule being the ancient name of the territory that would much later become France)

a49a2a1998ab450087c72d0e7a59d450.jpg

Q

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While this type of cut coin is usually described as "cut for change," I've always wondered if there was a political-economic component. After Rome defeated Hannibal and took dominion of Iberia (probably not all that long after the coin was struck), was this Punic Shekel intentionally cut down to Drachm-Denarius size? (It weighs 4.10 grams. I call it my "Hannibal Denarius," though of course both terms are highly debatable. Doing a little measurement and math, I concluded this is about 61.5% of the original, which probably weighed 6.65g. The absent smaller “half,” ~2.55g, might have corresponded approximately to a late-standard, reduced Republican Victoriatus.)

image.jpeg.78c8681105b21890a00a157cf2691884.jpeg

 

CNG appears to have sold a small hoard of these. The others are pasted together from their other sales and are NOT mine (I'd like to have had the top two as well!). The weights provide only mixed support (some might call it wishful thinking) for my "Hannibal Denarius" hypothesis. Another nice thing about that hoard is the relative wear pattern on the other type of portrait suggests that this type is, indeed, later, which supports the hypothesis that it portrays Hannibal (or Melqart w/ his features) rather than the earlier BICs (Barcids-in-Charge):

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Edited by Curtis JJ
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