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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 31, July 30 , 2000, Article 7

COUNTERMARK VS COUNTERSTAMP 

   Jørgen Sømod continues on the subject of countermark and 
   counterstamp:  "Both terms should be used on official pieces, 
   but to a goldsmith's or engraver's test, I would use the term 
   counterstamp." 

   Ralf W. Bopple of Stuttgart, Germany writes: "I am on the 
   E-Sylum mailing list for almost a year now, and will finally be 
   able to contribute to your fine journal! 

   As a coin collector with much interest in counterstamped coins, 
   I have come in touch with the 'counterstamp vs. countermark' 
   discussion quite often. Yes, it is true that the words are mostly 
   used interchangeably by cataloguers.  I go along with Alan 
   Luedeking's definition, that is, defining a counterstamp as having 
   an 'official' background. This is also backed by Burzio's 
   'Diccionario de la Moneda Hispanoamericana', in which a 
   clear distinction is made between a 'resello' (indeed the Spanish 
   equivalent to counterstamp) applied by a governmental entity and 
   containing some official coat of arms or state symbol, and a 
   'contramarca', which is more generally defined as any kind of 
   number, symbol, letter, or monogram, applied by individuals or 
   political factions for various reasons. 

   Given the colorful history behind most counterstamps and 
   countermarks, one can easily imagine that it is not always possible 
   to make a clear distinction there. 

   The definite work on counterstamps in German (Ehrend/Schreier: 
   Gegenstempel auf Muenzen, Speyer, 1975) does not differentiate 
   between counterstamps and countermarks. In German, the word is 
   'Gegenstempel' (old-fashioned: Kontermarke), where 'Stempel' 
   signifies both 'stamp' and 'die'. Ehrend/Schreier explicitly exclude 
   'Punzungen' (punch marks) from the vast field of counterstamps, 
   that is, they don't count test or validation marks, like the Chinese 
   chops, or assay marks like the ones found on Japanese obans or 
   Brasilean 'Sampex' bars. 

   Thus, the countermark vs. counterstamp discussion does not exist 
   in Germany, simply because there is only one term!  I hope this 
   has been helpful, and I am looking forward to the replies by other 
   readers." 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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