Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on certain obsolete numismatic terms. Thanks! -Editor
We are fortunate editor Wayne Homren in last week's issue included illustrations and descriptions of five gold coins from a recent
Stacks-Bowers auction. These rare coins were called “Regulated” -- a rare occurrence in early American Colonial times. Not all numismatists
might know this term; it is an accurate term for an obscure practice.
I faced a decision with many obscure terms. Should they be included in my Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology? Absolutely!
Such terms are just what many readers would look for in an encyclopedia. Here is my entry on regulated gold:
Regulated Gold. In Colonial American era a practice of identifying full weight of a gold coin by counterstamp
of a private firm. The custom was short lived and existing coins with such a COUNTERSTAMP are exceedingly rare. The famed New York
goldsmith Ephraim Brasher placed his EG initial PUNCH mark on gold coins he guaranteed weight. While this is observed only on gold coins,
the practice is somewhat comparable to CHOP MARKS in the Orient where it was more prevalent on silver coins. See SHROFF. CLASS 10.9
Words in SMALL CAPS refer to entries in the Encyclopedia, as the case here referring to another obscure term SHROFF (enteries on
counterstamp and punch are quite lengthy):
Shroff. To sort circulating silver coins in trade according to fineness by banks and merchants in the Orient.
The term is both the verb for the act – also called shroffing – and the employee who does the testing. He sorts out spurious coin,
notes debased coins and marks acceptable standard coins with a CHOP MARK (also called shroff mark). He marks acceptable coins with
a PUNCH containing his bank's or merchant's symbol. Coins rapidly became heavily chop marked after many transactions. See CHOP MARK.
Another term for full value of a coin determined by its weight at the time of a transaction is AGIO.
Agio. A deduction from the face value of a precious metal coin because it is worn. When the bullion value of a
coin was not near the face value, worn coins of precious metal (prior 1920) were occasionally discounted, If a coin appeared worn it
would be weighed. The current value or transaction value would be discounted a small percentage based on the amount of short weight.
Reference: NE12 (1917) Frey, p 4. CLASS 14
Occasionally references are made to other books listed in the Bibliography for further information, as is the case here in reference to
Albert Frey's Dictionary of Numismatic Names.
These terms are all concerned with coins when they had value, made of precious metals. This in contrast to today's token coins, all
of low-value alloys. Imagine having to weigh your coins at every transaction today! Thankfully weighing coins is no longer necessary, as
are COIN SCALES – but that's another entry!
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
REGULATED GOLD: STACKS'S BOWERS MAY 25, 2016 SALE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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