Lincoln Smoking Counterstamp

Counterstamped Coins and How to Find Them

One of the first interesting coins I ever found coin roll hunting was a counterstamped coin! I had no idea what the weird mark on my coin meant, or what it was. The mystery of it gave me a love of counterstamped coins.

My first counterstamped coin was stamped with a cannon. It took me a few hours and a magnifying glass to realize it was a cannon. At first, I thought it was a microscope. Check out the photos below:

My first counterstamped coin!

Here is a closer image of the cannon:

So cool!

My theory is that it was given out at some historical site for the American Revolution. Perhaps it was even given to actors in a Civil War Re-enactment? (If anyonw knows, please contact me!)

This coin will always be one of my favorite coins I have ever found in circulation.

What is a counterstamped coin?

A counterstamped coin is a coin that has had an image or initials pressed into it while in circulation. (Compare this to a privy-marked coin which had a small marking placed while at the mint.)

This was a common promotional item in the early to mid-1900’s. Companies would have a machine at the counter, and would press coins for those who asked.

Most counterstamps are seen on pennies, although they can be found on any denomination.

Other Names

I most often refer to them as counterstamped coins or counterstamps, however they go by several other names. Most commonly: countermarks, punchmarks, or chopmarks.

Are counterstamped coins valuable?

In general, not really.

A counterstamp is technically damaging the coin. Any damage that a coin encounters outside of the mint is called Post-Mint Damage and hurts the collector value.

Plenty of people like counterstamped coins and try to collect them. However, since a counterstamp is easy to replicate and difficult to determine when the engraving was actually placed, most collectors don’t buy counterstamped coins.

If you have a lot of counterstamped coins, you may be able to list them on Ebay for a slight premium, but don’t expect to get rich off of one coin.

Why do people want counterstamped coins?

A counterstamp simply gives a coin more history.

Although I wouldn’t want a valuable coin to have a counterstamp, finding common dated with a counterstamp makes it more fun. Just a small engraving can take a boring 1973 penny into a key part of a collection.

Since counterstamped coins aren’t valuable there are very few people selling them. You could check Etsy for counterstamped coins. Most common counterstamped coins are sold for 3-5 dollars on Etsy. Etsy historically has pretty overpriced coins so it’s not a surprise. Click here to read more about expensive coins on Etsy.

How do you find counterstamped coins?

The best, easiest way to find counterstamped coins is by coin roll hunting. Coin roll hunting is when you get a lot of coins from the bank and look through each one. If you are interested in learning more about coin roll hunting, check out “What is Coin Roll Hunting?”.

If you are looking for counterstamped coins check pennies first, as they were more likely to be stamped.

What are common counterstamps?

Here are the counterstamps I have seen most often:

1.) Freemason symbol
2.) John F. Kennedy
3.) Lincoln Smoking a Pipe
4.) Someone’s Initials

Here are some of my favorites:

How to make your own counterstamps?

Making your own counterstamp is easy and there are several methods.

The simplest method, is to use a hammer and metal stamping tools. With this method you could press your own initials into coins.

If you are going to start chopmarking your own coins, I would recommend using common dates. It would suck to damage a bunch of coins to find out you don’t like how they look a few months later.

One thought on “Counterstamped Coins and How to Find Them

  1. Interesting. I’ve seen a few of these in my travels. I can see why people would want to collect them; especially if they know or can track down the story behind the counter-stamps.


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