Martinique (1805) 20 livres

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from the Stack's Bowers 2017 NYINC sale, lot 3112
Martinique SB117-3112r.jpg

The French Overseas Department of Martinique was colonized by the French, taken formally in 1635. It was occupied briefly by the British several times during the Napoleonic wars. It remains a French dependency to the present day. In colonial times, planters reaped huge profits from slave-worked sugar but pulling those profits off the island left a chronic shortage of cash, forcing locals to various expedients such as this countermarked counterfeit.

The example shown is a gold countermarked Brazil 6400 reis. The countermark is not dated, but this type was emplaced in about 1805. The host coin was originally 14.34 grams. This specimen was lot 3112 in Stack's Bowers NYINC sale (New York, January 2017), where it sold for $12,925. The catalog description[1] noted, "MARTINIQUE. 20 Livres, ND (ca. 1805). PCGS Genuine--Edge Repair, EF Details Secure Holder. RARE. Gordon variety B 20 over eagle countermark boldly applied to a counterfeit 1779-R Brazilian 6,400 Reis "Joe". The host coin was made to appear clipped with a crudely hand cut edge applied but is of a non existent date for the type represented. A bit of smoothing seems to be present on the edge which has earned this pieces its detail grade but is mainly insignificant to the overall appeal of the piece." Martinique also countermarked some counterfeit gold coins as "22 livres"; likely the heavier ones received the higher value.

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specifications: .917 fine gold.

Catalog reference: Fr-3; KM-32; Prid-15.


  • Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2012.
  • [1]Ponterio, Richard, The January 2017 NYINC Sale: Ancient Coins, World Coins & Paper Money, featuring the Richard Stuart Collection, Santa Ana, CA: Stack's Bowers LLC, 2016.

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