Three readers have three different opinions on the mystery word Eric Hodge asked about last week. -Editor
Ted Banning writes:
"With regard to Eric Hodge's illegible word, it looks to me like it might be 'prepunch'."
Roger Burdette writes:
"An old British English use of "presence" is a "view or likeness; appearance; in the manner or shape of."
"This seems to be the text Eric Hodge is working on."
Martin Purdy writes:
"I'm pretty sure the obscure word is 'pressure' (with a long s - like an f - followed by a short one, of which there are other examples in the
document). According to the full Oxford Dictionary, an obsolete meaning of 'pressure' is "impression", "image", or "stamp", which was still
attested around 1800, so that would work here.
Bear in mind that what's quoted above isn't the full sentence - it continues on the next line, so should read "Altering the head of a punch and making a new
pressure (i.e. impression) on the face of D° ("ditto", i.e. the punch) for defacing Dollars""
Thanks, everyone! If called on to be a tiebreaker I'd go with Martin's reasoning for 'pressure'. -Editor
"The first two are plausible in terms of meaning but don't stack up when you follow the strokes on the page or match against other letters elsewhere in the document.
(I'm not 100% insistent, but somewhere in the high 90s - if someone can document better matches to support something else, that would be great!) "
Eric Hodge writes:
"Firstly let me apologise for not quoting both lines, but I was just concentrating on the questionable word. I certainly like Roger's and Martin's ideas (whereas Ted's
ending in an h does not seem to fit). Like you I would have to go with Martin. Certainly the double s seems accurate. I must admit that 'pressure' has been noted by me
before, but what clinches Martin's idea is the old dictionary definition.
"I have checked online with Webster's Complete Dictionary for 1886 and on page 1032 pressure is given 6 definitions and ours is number 6, so am very pleased. My cup
runneth over! As I said before I am in your debt. Now on to number 2 in my ‘to do' list! "
"The isolated text looks as above.
"Mr. Purdy's interpretation, "Altering the head of a punch and making a new pressure (i.e. impression) on the face of D° (‘ditto', i.e. the punch) for defacing Dollars" is
certainly satisfying. My interpretation, "Altering the head of a punch and making a new presence on the face of D° i.e. the head] for defacing Dollars" is also satisfying.
"Interpretation of the last word at upper right as "presence" depends on a defective spelling – with two "s" rather than one – and the final letters being "ence."
Similarly, interpreting the same word as "pressure" depends on a normal spelling – with "ss" – and "ure" as the final letters. The latter requires that cursive "r" in the first
syllable be nearly identical to cursive "r" in the second syllable. Enhancement of the original image indicates that the writer intended a cursive "r" in the second syllable and I
concede that Mr. Purdy's word choice is most likely correct.
"I interpret the ditto position, directly below the word "head," as being consistent with contemporary usage and the concept of "ditto" meaning exactly what is above. Mr.
Purdy take a looser approach an assumes the "ditto" applies to the word "punch" which is substantially offset from the ditto abbreviation. The difference between these
alternatives is that Mr. Purdy's implies use of a new punch, and mine implies alteration of the face on an existing head. Given the phrase "altering the head" which begins the
journal entry, I feel the latter understanding is what the author intended.
"How all this plays out for Mr. Hodge might better depend on a larger body of material and greater contextual clarity."
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
DEFACING COUNTERMARKED COINS MYSTERY WORD (https://www.coinbooks.org/v23/esylum_v23n14a19.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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