I found a silver dollar sized French coin dated 1821 stamped with J.L Polhemus druggist 190 J St. cor. Sacramento Cal today while metal detecting in the hills near Coloma, CA. Can anyone tell me anything about it? It's a great addition to my collection. I read an article by Bob Evans about this counter stamp on some ship wreck coins. (S.S.Central America).
The Polhemus is a nice counterstamp. I used to own several of these. They arent excessively rare, but are popular with collectors. They are listed on p249-250 of Gregory G. Brunks book, Merchant and Privately Countermarked Coins (World Exonumia Press, 2003)
Brunk lists the counterstamp on three different French coins: Fifty Centimes 1850 and Five Francs 1830, 1845. Your silver-dollar sized coin sounds like a Five Franc piece.
Below are links to some Polhemus counterstamps from my collection sold in the 2006 ANR Americana sale. Here's how the cataloguer described Polhemus:
J.L. Polhemus, a colorful character from the early days of the California Gold Rush, was born in New York City in 1825. A prolific producer of counterstampsit is said a coin never passed through his drug store in Sacramento without being counterstampedPolhemus arrived in California at the very height of the "Days of '49." By 1850 he had opened his apothecary, living and working in Sacramento until his death in 1866.
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