Always on the lookout for a new counterstamp puzzle to solve, I spotted the below coin on eBay last month. The tiny counterstamp suggested to me that C.N. GIBBS
was likely a fine craftsman. The period following his name, also referred to as a "stop," suggested a mid 1800's made stamp.
Doing some research, I found that one Joseph Nelson Gibbs was an early 1800's Massachusetts silversmith. As he shared the same middle initial with my C.N. Gibbs, I checked to see if Joseph had a family member with the C.N. initials. Sure enough, he had a son, named Cyrus Nelson Gibbs (1846-1922) who pursued Joseph's career as a jeweler and watchmaker. The counterstamp matched that found on this silversmith website .... http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~silv...s/197611.htm
Unlisted by Brunk or Rulau, the C.N. GIBBS
c/s is a discovery piece. Perhaps, others exist. To date, I've seen no others attributed. Puzzle solved, I always seek out backstories that tell something of the c/s issuer, his life and times. The two following news clippings reveal a good deal about Cyrus. He surely was a talented and interesting man ....
Finally, could I find an example of Cyrus's work, the proverbial icing on the cake? The icing proved to be an 1888 dated pie server, pictured below. Note that it bears a name stamp which matches that on the coin ....
Cyrus reportedly began working in 1866, at age 20. He likely apprenticed for seven years under his father. The subject may have stamped this 1858 cent when he began his apprenticeship in 1858-59. Judging from the excessive wear on this coin, it may well have been a pocket piece that Cyrus carried. Personally stamped coins were often carried and shared by masons with others; in effect, serving as conversation stimulators.
The coin and the pie server cost me under $50, total. Now, I love Mercury dimes
and Buffalo nickels
, but I've never had such fun with a comparably priced, low grade 1921-D dime or a 1921-S nickel as I've had with this counterstamp.
Now, all that remains is for me to get the Mrs. to make a lemon meringue pie, so I can try out Cyrus's silver-plated pie server!