MEXICAN 8 REALES COUNTERMARKED AT ROTHSAY COTTON WORKS, April 20181820
This coin is a cast 8 reales, dated 1812, from the Chihuahua mint in Mexico. A definitive article about this series is entitled “U.K. Merchant Countermarked Dollars c. 1787-1828” by Eric Hodge in the May/June 2016 “Numismatics International Bulletin.” This coin is a bonus piece that was not featured in the article.
Chihuahua was a temporary Royalist mint set up by a decree of 8th October 1810 during the War of Independence against Spain which lasted from 1810 to 1821.
The only coins issued at Chihuahua were 8 reales, and when the mint was first established coins were cast, due to lack of adequate machinery, from 1810 to 1813 and then struck (generally over previously cast coins) between 1813 and 1822. The cast coins were based on original 8 reales of Mexico City as patterns, (as all have the square and circle marking on the edge, similar to that of coins struck by the Mexico City mint) but apparently care was exercised to eradicate the M mint mark and substitute capital CA for Chihuahua mint. The assayers’ initials were also altered to RP though no records have been found to tell us what this stood for. The City of Chihuahua was founded as a mission on the 15th August 1639. Between 1705 and 1708 rich gold and silver deposits were discovered in the vicinity.
Besides having the unmistakable cast appearance and the crudely outlined CA and RP these coins also have two countermarks placed on the obverse, on the left of the king’s portrait a T designating receipt by the Royal Treasurer and on the right crowned pillars of Hercules with pomegranate beneath, a symbol used by the comptrollers of the Real Hacienda to whom these pieces were turned over from the foundry room. These countermarks were placed with hand punches, after each piece had been checked for weight, the lighter coins being discarded and the heavier filed down. This particular coin is heavy at 29.22 grams, so was lucky not to be filed down.
Subsequently this coin found its way to Scotland where it was countermarked by the Rothsay Cotton Works in about 1820 and issued at a value of 4 shillings and 6 pence. On the reverse can be seen the privy punch mark below and slightly to the right of the reverse shield designating the validity of this Scottish mark.