Tuesday, May 10, 2011
So What are Chop Marks?
Chopmarks are privately applied punchmarks to show that a particular merchant has determined that the coin is "good" silver (usually) or gold (occasionally). They are almost always crude, and placed on the coin in a random position. 19th Century Asian merchants were so trusting of each other that they frequently ignored prior chops and added their own after independently verifying the coin's allloy and weight.
There are Japanese yen and Chinese Yuan so heavily chopped that it is difficult or impossible to date the host coin, or even make out design details that vary by variety.
Countermarks are also punched into the coins, but they differ in purpose and source, and generally in method of application. They are applied by governments, or government wannabes - that is revolutionaries or invaders. Their purpose is not so much to verify the metallic content and value, but to authorize - or prohibit - circulation as money in a particular area.
Often, but not universally, they are more detailed and intricate than the typical chop, and they are frequently placed in the same general location on each coin. For example, when the Japanese (temporarily) demonitized their silver yen and trade dollar coins, the character "Gin" or "silver" was stamped on each coin in a circle. The main mint at Osaka stamped the reverse to the left of the "yen" or "silver for trade" legend, and the Tokyo Branch Mint placed the same stamp on the right.
Read more: http://www.cointalk.com/t9735/#ixzz1LwInH4zk