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Imperial Brazilian Silver Coins Repurposed as Countermarked Commemorative Medals

By Kyle Ponterio, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger

Author: Kyle Ponterio / Thursday, April 25, 2019 / Categories: World Coin of the Week

Imperial Brazilian Silver Coins Repurposed as Countermarked Commemorative Medals

This week’s featured numismatic treasures from our June Collectors Choice online (CCO) auction are coins that were repurposed into commemorative medals and ingots.  The numismatic and philatelic communities were very active in Brazil during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and issued the first from this commemorative series for the numismatic exposition of 15 December 1937.  It would be 12 years before the next commemorative, designed by Prof. Jorge G. Jessess, would be issued for the first SANPEX convention in December 1949.  One hundred pieces were countermarked 101-200 with certificates of authenticity, plus 16 that were not numbered and two with the letter “P”, but no certificate, for a total of 118 pieces.  The popularity of this series from its inception ensured that it quickly sold out.  In fact the second issue was so popular that they created another medal for the same event, but of a different design and host coin.  The second emission was quite different, although also quite popular. It was mailed to potential buyers for a price of 960 Reals (approximately $244) instead of being sold at the convention.  The second emission displays a fish shaped indent with the word “SANPEX” in the center in the right field behind the bust and a number 1-100 stamped below the bust of an 1886-89 2,000 Reis.   An additional 15 pieces were stamped with numbers that fell out of the sequence and an added letter “B” so as to not be confused with the original mintage. In addition each piece from this emission was accompanied with a certificate of authenticity, nearly all of which have been lost. 

Brazil “SANPEX” 2,000 Reis # 22 NGC-MS61, Countermark UNC Standard.

 The 1950s saw a significant increase of these issues for various events from 1950-57 such as the 400th anniversary of the founding of Sao Paulo and the SANPEX II convention, which were both issued in January 1955.  These were designed by Roberto A.G.P Dessart and manufactured by Mr. Francisco Montini of Sao Paulo.  They were produced in a similar fashion to the Mato Grosso (1818), Cuiaba (1820) and Minas Gerais (1801-10) issues which use bi-facial countermarks and have designs on both the obverse and reverse.  The Historical and Geographical Institute of Sao Paulo arranged for the production of the 400th anniversary commemoratives to be sold at the Philatelic exhibition that took place January 6-15, 1955. It had a total mintage of 300 coins plus an additional 28 pieces. The SANPEX II convention that took place January 26-31, 1955, had an issuance of only 90 pieces.

Brazil “400th Anniversary of the founding of Sao Paulo” 960 Reis NGC-AU58, Countermark UNC Standard on an 1815-R 960 Reis

Brazil “SANPEX II A” 960 Reis NGC-AU58, Countermark UNC Standard on an 1814-R 960 Reis

Brazil has a long history of countermarking coins for various reasons, mostly to circumvent specie shortages, but in the case of these commemoratives it is more for nostalgia than anything else.  The mintage figures and availability of these issues create a short series produced for more than a decade. The series is very collector friendly and easy to complete with a little patience.

We are currently taking consignments of world and ancient coins and world paper money for our June Collectors Choice Online (CCO) auction, as well as for the August ANA World's Fair of Money Auction in Rosemont, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. We are also accepting consignments of Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our August 19-22, 2019, Hong Kong Showcase Auction. If you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) contact​ one of our consignment directors.