A Potentially Historic Counterstamp ... Help!
The attribution of counterstamps is often an exercise in futility and sometimes relatively easy. Then too, there are those that continue to prove frustrating for years on end. Such has been the case with this one:
Temple cs (320x311).jpg
Obviously, this is a single-punch mark that was applied to some product, but what? The TEMPLE name is not one that often appears in early directories, and the "L" initial offers far fewer possibilities than do many other initials. Indeed, these thoughts were what prompted me to initially purchase it; this, with an eye toward potential attribution. I'd have been more enthusiastic about the purchase, had there been a middle initial or, better yet, an address, a town or an occupation given!
Neither Brunk nor Rulau listed this counterstamp in their published works. This is certainly not unusual though, as probably ninety percent or more of counterstamped coins have yet to be listed in some such census. Ironically, many collectors prefer to own published pieces; ones that have established something of a track record, so to speak.
The date on this host cent is possibly 1807. However, the letter style suggests that the stamp was created and applied some decades later; likely, the late 1840-50's, during the heyday of this widespread practice of counterstamping circulating coins. Oftentimes, somewhat worn coins were chosen as hosts for marks which would then appear more prominent on coins lacking detail. This host may have been chosen by Temple, given its then, already worn condition.
Two likely candidates, in my mind's eye, have so far surfaced in my quest to attribute this counterstamp. One of them is Levi Temple, a Maine blacksmith. The New England Business Directory and Gazetteer lists him thus working in Knox, Maine in 1865. It was not uncommon for blacksmiths to use counterstamps and seek patents for their metal work.
A second candidate is one Lewis Temple who earlier worked as a blacksmith and is listed in the 1849 New England Business Directory and Gazetteer as a carriage smith; then, located on Walnut Street in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Lewis, a black man, born a slave, became a very prominent citizen of New Bedford; particularly so, following his invention of a whaling harpoon that revolutionized that industry. Here's a link to some fascinating history on Lewis:
It's not believed that Lewis ever patented his toggle-head harpoon. Yet, he was likely encouraged to do so at some time. Perhaps, this counterstamp was intended for use or even applied to one of his whaling or carriage products? A positive attribution could be made were this mark found on such a product. I have yet to find such an item. Any help along these lines would be gratefully appreciated! Regardless, the quest seems to hold a high degree of fascination for me; this, after a good many years of looking.
Last edited by Chautauquan; 09-03-2013 at 12:42 AM.