Junk box gems: a counter-marked Spanish coin

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06 October 2018
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In this latest instalment of the popular 'junk box gems' series, we try and decipher the marking on a counter-marked coin from Spain

This coin, from Spain, is a dreadful mess!

During the 17th century, Spain was bankrupted four times. Desperate to raise money, the government would call in the copper coins, countermark them at, say, double value, and return half of them to the owner, who still had the same amount of money, keeping the other half for the government.

After repeated countermarkings, all trace of the original coin has vanished.

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This may have started as a 4 maravedis of Philip III (1602-20) but it has been restruck as a VI - the S below the figure shows that this was done under the control of the Seville mint. It also became a ‘VIII’ under the Madrid mint, in 1654. These pieces are known as the ‘calderilla’ coinage; they were withdrawn in 1660.