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An Improbable Overdate

2 posts in this topic

The mystery of the 2 REALES 1834/5 GJ

    What should be borne in mind is that all the coins with overdates have one thing in common, which is that the overstruck date is normally over a date earlier than that of the overstriking. However this rule has an exception.

     Dale Seppa’s compendium ECUADORIAN COINS– An Annotated checklist – Edition 2016 on page 18 reports the existence of a 2 Reales coin with overstruck date 1834/5 GJ, a coin whose overstriking is unusual in that the overstriking is on a future date compared to the overstriking rather than an earlier date as is normal.

Fig. 7aaa.jpg


    In this compendium DALE SEPPA mentions that the coin is certified by NGC as VF DETAILS with Hairlines, the same as was auctioned by DFS (Daniel Frank Sedwick) in May 2013 at a price in excess of US$800. In the auction DFS mentions that this piece is the only one known up till now, with a value estimated between US1000 and US$2000. The auction can be seen at the link:


     Mr. Seppa also mentions in his compendium that he had not the opportunity to find the records and the verification code assigned by NGC, to be able to study this unusual overdate and confirm it, but it is clear that it concerns a 2 reales of 1835 GJ overstruck with a 4. This we can easily confirm because the only difference which exists between the 2 reales coins of 1834 and those of 1835 is the period at the end of the word CONSTITUCION (all the 1834 coins have a period at the end of the said word, whilst the 1835 coins do not have the period).  The overstruck coin from the DFS auction (1834/5) does not have the period, as is indicated in the description from the DFS auction, which clearly confirms that it is a coin  from a die of 1835 overstruck with a 4.

Fig. 5aaa.jpg


    The coin from the DFS auction passed through the hands of several Ecuadorian collectors until I acquired it in March 2017, together with the white holder for the Slab and the NGC certification label with which it had been auctioned in 2013, since the coin had been removed from its container. The verification code on this certification was 2782907-001.

     In April 2017 I sent this coin to NGC again, so that it could be reviewed by the certification experts for the second time. The result obtained was exactly the same as the previous certification. 2 reales 1834/5 GJ with the grade VF DETAILS, with the same defect of Hairlines. This new certification has the verification code 2812314-001

   That is to say that four years after the first certification NGC again validated the same overdate of 4 over 5, with the same grade of condition and recording the defect of Hairlines, without being informed that it involved the same piece that had been certified in 2013. This we can easily confirm by comparing both NGC photographic records of 2013 and 2017, where can be seen even the same Hairlines below the letter R on the obverse (2 marks below the R).

Fig. 7bbb.jpg


    This causes us to ask the following questions:

  •  How did this improbable overdate happen?
  •  Why was a die of 1835 corrected with a 4?

    First  Mr.  Dale  Seppa  was  contacted  so  that  he  could  review the overstrike,  since  he  had  already  announced  its  existence  and  had  not had  the  opportunity  to  obtain photographs in 2013   for  a  more detailed  examination. He succeeded in confirming that the overdate existed, and that in his opinion it was genuine and an authentic original mintage of the coin. Mr. Michael Anderson also checked this aspect, arriving at the same conclusion about the improbable overdate.

   So, how do we explain what happened?  We can only offer some hypotheses based on the research and conclusions reached by historians about the events of the period 1834 to 1836.

1. –    We    must    take   into   account   that   one   of   the  engravers  who   prepared   dies  in  the  period  of  1834  and 1835   was  Mr. Eduardo Coronel,   who,  according   to   Melvin  Hoyos  in  his   “La Moneda   Ecuatoriana  a  través  de  los  tiempos”,    was   dismissed  as mint  engraver  for  irresponsibility  in  his  duties.   It  is  not   explained what   irresponsible   duties   Mr.  Coronel   committed  to  be  dismissed, but  we  must   wonder   if   this   could   have   been   one   of   the   irresponsible   errors  in  his  duties.

2. –   Melvin  Hoyos  also  mentions  in  his  work  that  Mr.  Eduardo Coronel  was  found  with  a  die  stolen  from  the  mint.   This,  according to  the  unpublished  Numismatic  History  of  Ecuador  of  IZA  Terán Carlos,  occurred  in  March  1836,  and  production  in  this  year  was ordered  to  begin  only  on  14  June,  according  to  what  is  said  in Melvin  Hoyos’  book,  second  edition,  page  110.   All  this  allows  us  to make  the  following  observations:

  • a.-   It  is  impossible  that  the  theft   of   the   die   related   to  one produced   in   1836,    since   the   minting  of  coins  was  ordered  in   June  1836  and   Mr.   Eduardo   Coronel   was   found   with  the   stolen die  in  March  of  that  year.
  • b.-   We  can  infer  that  the  stolen  die  must  have been of  the year 1835 or earlier, which were those which existed before Mr. Coronel was found out,  but it is very probable that he would have taken one of those most readily available at the time,   which would have to be one of 1835,  to be used in his criminal activity in 1835 and/or 1836 until being found out.
  • c.-   According  to  the  unpublished   Numismatic  History  of Ecuador   of     IZA   Terán   Carlos,     it   is   said    that    Mr. Coronel  carried   out   his   forgeries   in   the   same   mint  where  he   was   found  with   a  stolen  die  in  March  1836.
  • d.- In the early days of the Republic, forgers used to steal part of the silver from coins of good fineness, making fraudulent coinages of base fineness, and thus making a profit from the metal they obtained.

    Considering   these   observations,  we  can  develop  certain hypotheses,  such  as  the  possibility  that  the  stolen  die  was  probably of  the  year  1835,   and  the  date  could  have been  altered  by Mr. Coronel  to  that  of  the  previous  year  (1834/5)  with  the  objective of being  able  to  incorporate  his  base  pieces,   produced  in  the  same mint,   very  probably from  1835  to  early  1836,   trying  to  hide  them among   coins   of   a   year   of   which   there   already   existed  a complete   supply   in   circulation;   for  which  it  is  necessary  to remember   that   the   1835   mintage   began   in   March   and   lasted until  December,   so   that  at  the  beginning  not  enough  of  the  1835 coinage  could  have  existed  to  conceal the false  coins.   Another hypothesis  could  be  that  he  did  it  to  avoid  the  quality  controls  of coins   minted  in  1835,    being   dated   as  1834   they   would   be exempt   from   control   if   the   coinage   was   not   part   of  the production   current   at   the   time.     Or   he  could  have  changed   the die  simply  so  as  not  to  have  in  his  possession  a  die  of  a  year currently in  production.    But  any  of  these  hypotheses  would  require that  the  piece  under  consideration  would  be  an  adulterated  coin  of the  time,    coined  in  the  mint  itself,    and  that the  piece  would  have to  contain  little  or  almost  no  silver.     This  would  have  been  detected by  NGC  or  by  any  of  the  persons  who  reviewed  this  coin; furthermore  collectors with  any  experience  could  see  that  the  coin  is of  good  silver.     Alternatively  the  Quito's  mint  could  have  struck  this piece  in  good  silver  after  the  die  was  recovered  from  Mr. Coronel, either  for  the  record  or  simply  by  mistake.

3.-   The  third  hypothesis  is  based  on  a  simple  question:   What relevant  fact  occurred  in  1835  which  could  affect  the  design  of  that tears  coins?

   On 13 August 1835 the second Ecuadorian Constitution was promulgated, abolishing the idea of the confederation with Colombia and changing the name “State of Ecuador in the Republic of Colombia” (abbreviated on the coins as “El Ecuador en Colombia”) to “República del Ecuador”). Therefore it is necessary to ascertain in which months the 1835 2 reales were produced, since if all or part of them were made after 13 August there is reason to think that the date could have been corrected intentionally so that the design did not contradict what had been established by the new Constitution. In such a case it would be easier to correct the date than the name of the country. If this hypothesis were correct, this extremely rare specimen would indicate the intention to avoid the 1835 coinage being inconsistent with what had been approved by the Constitution on 13 August of that year.

    Perhaps having had the intention of correcting the date, they tested the viability of a few specimens and in the end decided not to make the correction, leaving us this example which would become a witness to the political and constitutional changes in the country.

    This  event,   the  change  of  name  to  República  del  Ecuador, coincides  with  the  exact  year  of  the  manufacture  of  this overstruck coin.   Probably  we  shall  never  know  the  real reason  why  and  how it was  done,   but  what  is  certain  is  that  the  piece  has  this  unusual detail,  which  was  verified  by  NGC  on  two  occasions  (in 2013 and 2017).   Furthermore  it was  reviewed  by  persons  with  much  experience of  colonial  and  pre-decimal  coins,    such as Daniel Frank Sedwick, when he offered this piece in his auction house in 2013, describing it as the only one known up to that time, and Messrs. Dale Seppa and Michael Anderson, who had the opportunity to study this improbable overstrike.

    Definitely  it  must  be  a  very  scarce  coin. 

    Xavier Alban Rubio 

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