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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 30, July 23, 2000, Article 7

COUNTERSTAMP VS COUNTERMARK 

   Alan Luedeking sent the following note for our terminology 
   discussion:  "Here's a quick question for our E-Sylum readership: 

   In a discussion the other day with a friend the question of the 
   distinction between the terms "countermark" and "counterstamp" 
   came up. I know this topic has been written about before, but do 
   not recall when/where. My personal interpretation is as follows, 
   and I'd like to know if most numismatists find this acceptable, 
   or if there is any kind of consensus on this issue: 

   "A countermark is an unofficial struck mark or stamp applied to 
   a coin, token or medal for commercial reasons such as a 
   revalidation, or for advertisement purposes. A counterstamp is 
   an official struck mark or stamp applied by a governmental entity 
   to a coin or token to revalue, validate or grant legal tender status 
   in the issuing authority's area of influence." In both instances this 

   would exclude engraved marks, and marks for purely decorative 
   purposes, and I also exclude full-flan overstrikes in any case. 

   Judging from the very few references in my library, 'countermark' 
   appears to be the term most commonly used for both categories 
   (witness Brunk's several works), however Richard Doty's "The 
   Macmillan Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatics" does not list 
   "countermark" at all but presents an interesting discourse under 
   "counterstamp", with much historical background and defining it as 
   an 'official' mark. 'Countermark' is nowhere mentioned until the 
   very end in the closing statement "a synonym for counterstamp is 
   countermark." For what it's worth, in Spanish the term 
   counterstamp does not exist at all, and the only term, used 
   indiscriminately, is "contramarca". 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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