Wacks Counterstamps




Mel Wacks’ counterstamp pictures the Eastern Hemisphere (Europe, Africa, Middle East and India), which includes many places where the Maria Theresa Taler has circulated, surrounded by “BICENTALER 1780-1980” plus the initials “MRW.” My records indicate that 200 were made.


mw8 Bicentaler

MW8 “BICENTALER 1780-1980”


The 1980 Summer Olympics were held in Moscow. The United States and 64 other countries boycotted the games because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, though athletes from some boycotting countries participated in the games, under the Olympic Flag. Eighty nations participated including East Germany and the rest of the Soviet bloc. A limited edition of 800 counterstamped coins were made exclusively for a German dealer. He supplied 20 Mark Ernst Abbe East Germany brilliant uncirculated coins and I supplied the counterstamps. Ernst Abbe (1840-1905) was a brilliant German mathematician and physicist who made several of the most important contributions to the design of lenses for optical microscopy. The counterstamp design consists of two nude Olympian runners, similar to those depicted on an ancient Greek vase, c. 525, plus the Olympic motto: “CITIUS ALTIUS FORTIUS” (Faster, Higher, Stronger) and “1980 MOSCOW GAMES” plus a tiny Olympic flame with XIX below, and Mel Wacks’ initials “MRW.”


mw9 Moscow






Two counterstamped coins were issued to commemorate the 1980 Winter Olympics, held in Lake Placid, New York. This was the second time the upstate New York village hosted the Games, the first being in 1932. Records indicate that 2000 1971 Proof Silver Ike Dollars were counterstamped with a design depicting a downhill skier, 5 snowflakes, the Olympic flame with XIII below, the initials “MRW,” and the inscription “FASTER ● HIGHER ● STRONGER LAKE PLACID ● FEB. 13-24, 1980.” The winners of the large hill skiing event were Jouko of Finland (Gold), Hubert Neuper of Austria (Silver) and Jari Puikkonen of Finland (Bronze).


mw10 Lake Placid




The die was then cancelled. While the “Ski Dollar” was planned before the Games, the decision to create a second issue was not made until the United States’ dramatic victory over the Soviet Union in ice hockey excited the entire country – including me. The USA vs. USSR game, called the "Miracle on Ice" in the United States, is the best-remembered game of the tournament and the best-remembered international hockey game ever in the United States. The last minute 4-3 win was the USA's penultimate game of the tournament's round-robin medal round. The USA's final game, against Finland, was the game which clinched the gold medal for the United States, with a 4-2 win.




The counterstamped design featured a silhouetted hockey player swinging his stick, along with the Olympic flame with XIII below, the initials “MRW,” and the inscription “1980 GOLD MEDAL WINNERS ● USA HOCKEY TEAM.” The coins were gold-plated uncirculated 1776-1976 Bicentennial Eisenhower Clad Dollars. After the edition limit of 1,000 was reached, the die was cancelled.


mw11 Hockey



January 20, 1981 was an historic day – that was the inspiration of two counterstamped coins – one planned and the other done at the spur of the moment. That is the beauty of counterstamps – they can go from conception to production in a matter of weeks.


Ronald Reagan had won election as the 40th President, carrying 44 states with 489 electoral votes to 49 electoral votes for President Jimmy Carter (representing six states and Washington D.C.).




The planned issue was produced on brilliant uncirculated 1776-1976 Bicentennial Eisenhower Dollars, that were stamped with “RONALD W. REAGAN INAUGURATED 40TH PRESIDENT JANUARY 20, 1981” and the initials “SNW – MRW” (Shari Nan Wacks and Mel Roy Wacks), plus a meticulously rendered portrayal of the White House by Adam Cool. Records indicate that 500 were made on 40% silver coins and at least 150 on clad dollars.


mw12 Reagan


The spontaneous issue celebrated the surprise release of the 52 U.S. hostages by Iran. Sixty-six Americans had been taken captive when Iranian militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, including three who were at the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Six Americans escaped, 13 were released on November 19 and 20, 1979, and one was released on July 11, 1980. At least 125 pieces (of the 444 authorized) Proof 1971 Eisenhower Silver Dollars were counterstamped “FREEDOM FOR THE 52 AMERICAN HOSTAGES JANUARY 20, 1981” along with a ribbon around an oak tree and “© WACKS.” During the Iran hostage crisis, the yellow ribbon was used as a symbol of support for the hostages held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. This symbolism began in December 1979, when Penelope Laingen, wife of the most senior foreign service officer being held hostage, tied a yellow ribbon around a tree on the lawn of her Maryland home, likely inspired by the hit song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree."

mw13 Hostages



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