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X-Stamp of Condemnation

After the publication of Bad Metal: Copper and Nickel, additional examples of the documented counterfeit varieties in that book, along with a couple new varieties, have gradually been photographically documented for long-term census data. In particular, this blog post focuses on the 1869 Z2-G shield nickel variety. This variety is common among shield nickel counterfeits with nine (9) documented examples. It is also known with and without the ‘X’ counterstamp of condemnation by the Treasury which symbolized certain pieces as not genuine. As a result of a recent acquisition, five (5) examples are now known with the X counterstamp, thus making those without the X slightly rarer! I find this intriguing that a majority of these documented pieces, albeit still a fairly small sample size, are known with this X stamp.

In total, nine (9) counterfeit shield nickel varieties are known with this X counterstamp, and 13 examples have been documented with this X out of a total of 35 examples from those 9 varieties (37%). Will this proportion remain relatively consistent over time after documenting additional examples of each counterfeit variety? Can we use this data to hypothesize the proportion of die struck counterfeit shield nickels from at least these 9 varieties that were counterstamped with this X by or before 1870 that were returned back to the sender? Maybe. But many factors complicate this. Similarly, why are some varieties not known with an X stamp despite being made by the same counterfeiters and at the same time or slightly before the Treasury X-stamped pieces? Many unanswered questions remain that we will probably only be able to hypothesize.

I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight that since the Bad Metal book was published, no examples of the following varieties have been documented since Fletcher published his shield nickel book. Frankly, I find this somewhat surprising, but maybe owners of these varieties have just not contacted me or others about them. Thus, if you own or know someone who may own one of these varieties, please contact me.

1867 Z1-B

1868 Z3-F

1875 Z1-N

1875 Z2-M

Thanks for reading,


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