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Very interesting British Occupation Countermark

​As 2018 winds down and the holiday season is upon us, at Stack’s Bowers Galleries we are looking forward to what we hope will be a happy and prosperous new year. To kick the year off, numismatists from around the world will converge on the Grand Hyatt Hotel at 102 East 42nd St. in New York City to attend the 47th annual New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC).  Our auction, held in conjunction with the NYINC, will feature floor sessions on January 11 and 12 and will conclude with several internet sessions on January 14 and 15 conducted live on StacksBowers.com. One particularly notable treasure from the auction is an obscure issue from the Ionian Islands while they were under the occupation of the British during the Napoleonic era: Lot 41110 an Ionian Islands 60 Para, ND (1813).  These coins are rarely seen on the market, with the most common denominations being the 25 and 50 Para countermark applied to Italian minors of Sicily. All other denominations and host coins are rated rare to unique.

At the time of the occupation in 1813, small circulating specie needed to pay the 7,000 troops was in short supply.  The Lieutenant General Sir James Campbell of the occupying British forces imported silver minor coinage, primarily of Sicilian origin, as well as Spanish and Spanish colonial minors to alleviate the coin shortage.  In an attempt to standardize the newly imported coins, each piece was countermarked with a denomination inside a square border (Type 1). These denominations corresponded to the Ottoman exchange rates (25, 30, 50 and 60 Para) that were used during the previous Ottoman occupation.  The design was simplistic and the local government quickly realized that these marks were being forged by unscrupulous individuals.  Acting with haste, all coins bearing these markings were recalled by the Lieutenant General and a new countermark (Type II) was applied that displayed a crude rendition of the bust of George III with denomination below, all within an oblong shaped border. These issues circulated until 1821 when they were demonetized, withdrawn from circulation and a new currency system was put in place.  
The example offered in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries 2019 NYINC auction, while crude in appearance, is actually rather exceptional and quite pleasing, with bold countermarks and attractive old envelope tone.  Its pedigree (see more below) adds additional appeal. This opportunity checks many collectible boxes: rarity, historical background and established pedigree among the more notable.

Dr. Ralph Van Deman Magoffin (1874 – 1942)

Stack’s Bowers Galleries is pleased to be offering ancient Greek and Roman coins collected by Dr. Ralph Van Deman Magoffin, archeologist, classics professor, author and philanthropist. Dr. Magoffin was born in 1874 and over his distinguished career, studied and worked both in his native United States and abroad.

In 1907 Dr. Magoffin was a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, during which time he studied the topography of ancient Praeneste. As an archeologist he was involved in excavations at sites in Greece, Rome and the Near East. His career as a professor included teaching Classical History and Archeology at Johns Hopkins University and as chair of the Department of Classics at New York University. From 1920 to 1921 he was affiliated with the American Academy in Rome. From 1908 through 1934 Dr. Magoffin wrote eight books on archeology and history, including Magic Spades: The Romance of Archeology, which saw wide use in university classrooms.

Dr. Magoffin was a major benefactor of the Florence Museum in Florence, South Carolina and was involved in its very beginnings in 1939, when he was a guest speaker at the museum’s opening event. He donated a significant selection of antiquities he had collected over his career, the nucleus of a diversely representative, world-conscious educational collection. Dr. Magoffin passed away in 1942.

While the consignment deadline for our January 2019 New York International Auction has passed, we are taking consignments of world and ancient coins and world paper money for upcoming auctions including our February 2019 Collector’s Choice Online (CCO) Auction, August 2019 ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction in Rosemont, Illinois and our March and August 2019 Hong Kong auctions (showcasing showcase Chinese and other Asian coins and currency). If you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) contact one of our consignment directors.

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