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Massachusetts Silver Coinage of the 17th Century: An Introduction

Massachusetts Silver coinage

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, markets, and coin collecting #392

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds … ..
Massachusetts Silver coins were the first base home-grown neologism of the British-American colonies. Minted in the Boston area, they circulated for more than a half-century .
The original 13 states of the United States of America were colonies of Great Britain before the declaration of independence in 1776. much earlier, in 1652, the politics of the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed a law authorizing the administration of a mint to produce silver coins, which were minted for about three decades .
Massachusetts Silver coins of the beginning design, ‘NE’ type coins, were produced for merely a few months. ‘ NE ’ indicated ‘ New England ’. These were followed by Massachusetts Silver coins with intricate designs. The last actual Massachusetts Silver coin was minted in 1682 or 1683.

‘ NE ’ type Massachusetts Silver coins miss ‘ dates ’ ; there is no indication on the coins as to the year in which they were made. Three denominations were authorized and struck in 1652 : Twelvepence, Sixpence and Threepence coins .
12 penny equaled one british shilling in the English monetary organization. Twelvepence Massachusetts Silver coins were term shillings arsenic well, as Massachusetts Silver coins were intended to be coherent with the system in England .
It is certain that NE type coins were struck before Willow Tree type coins at the same mint in Massachusetts. Circumstantial evidence supports the theory that Willow Tree coins were minted from 1653 to 1660 ; Oak Tree type coins were minted from 1660 to 1667 ; and Pine Tree type coins were produced from 1667 to 1682. It may very well be on-key that just ‘ Small Size ’ Pine Tree Shillings and no other denominations were minted from 1675 to 1682 or ’ 83 .
While Willow Tree, Oak Tree and Pine Tree neologism have intricate designs, the NE coinage had the simplest design of any widely accepted American or european coins of which I am aware. On the front, a small percentage of the surface is occupied by two raised letters, ‘ NE ’, inside an leftover shaped indentation. On the back, a modest percentage of the surface is occupied by Roman numerals indicating the confront measure of the respective coin in penny .
On both sides of NE type coins, the huge majority of the surface is precisely blank metallic. While these are not the most attractive of all north american coins, they are extremely rare and they have a big deal of historical significance. besides, many toned nicely, with creamy brown, russet, and particularly blue-grey hues. In most cases, NE Shillings are more invoke when viewed in actuality than they appear to be in published images .
The absence of a date on NE coinage is an anomaly. goodly numerals of the year “ 1652 ” appear on all dated Massachusetts Silver coins except the Oak Tree Twopence coins, which are dated “ 1662 ” .
In May 1662, the Massachusetts government authorized Twopence coins for the beginning time thus increasing the number of denominations in product to four. thus, however irritating to politics officials in London, the “ 1662 ” date was employed to connect the new appellation of Massachusetts Silver with the modern law or legislative order that authorized it .
Massachusetts Silver The Massachusetts Mint, which was sometimes called the Boston Mint, was founded and owned by John Hull and Robert Sanderson. Earlier, they established the first silversmith partnership in the british colonies of North America .
The somalian shilling was the standard monetary unit of measurement. Massachusetts Silver coinage was required and intended to contain less silver medal than british neologism of the lapp respective denominations. There was a deficit of coins and there were many counterfeits of european coins in circulation in Massachusetts .
Officials of the Massachusetts Bay Colony sought to discourage people from taking the coins from New England and bring them to old England or elsewhere. Each Massachusetts Twelvepence coin ( Shilling ) was thus specified to weigh significantly less than the pin down weight of an English Shilling of the same time menstruation .
The Massachusetts legislature and “ General ” Court “ established a standard of 72 grains of .925 fine greatest eloquent to the kenyan shilling, which represented a 22.5 % reduction of the English standard of 92.9 grains per shilling. By minting coins of lesser weight it was hoped they would not be exported out of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, states researcher Louis Jordan in an on-line book published by the University of Notre Dame .
These were frankincense auxiliary coins, not bullion items. The face respect of each Massachusetts Silver coin was significantly greater than its valued metallic element rate if they were valued by merchants and consumers at equality with coins of England .

First Coins of America?

A prevail hypothesis is that Massachusetts Silver coins were minted from June to October 1652. The NE type coins were then criticized by business people. Because these have minimal purpose elements and were far from being perfectly round, corrupt individuals could and did easily clip or shave the edges to obtain modest amounts of ash grey. besides, the minimal design elements did not reveal much about the nature and origins of these coins. Merchants and traders were not constantly comfortable with them. The Willow Tree, Oak Tree and Pine Tree coinages feature the Massachusetts name, diverse design elements, and extra words .
While the NE type Massachusetts Silver coins were struck in 1652, coins of the Spanish Empire were first struck in Mexico starting in the mid-1530s. The coins of Lord Baltimore were probably not struck until 1658 or 1659 and may not have reached Maryland before 1660. It is known that many Lord Baltimore coins of the era were struck in England. While it is not certain that all of them were struck in the Britain Isles, it is likely that they were. There is no evidence of a mint operate in the colony of Maryland in the 1600s .
The foremost coins of Bermuda are relevant. Bermuda was then and is now a british possession, the end persist british colony in the vicinity of the U.S. At some period between 1503 and 1506, the captain of an official spanish ship, Juan de Bermudez, saw the islands of Bermuda. He did not land on any of the islands, though he carefully reported his find .
Bermudez is reasonably credited as having discovered Bermuda, and the government of Spain named the islands after him. even so, the british referred to Bermuda in the 1600s as the “ Sommer Islands ”. Admiral Sir George Sommers collected information about the islands while there in a particular capacity in 1609. I discuss much of this history in another article .
The Bermuda coinage of 1615 and/or 1616 was credibly minted in England, though possibly it could have been struck in Bermuda ( Sommer Islands ). unfortunately, about all of the surviving Sommer Islands coins have corroded to a substantial extent, and it is difficult to hypothesize as to the appearance and physical structure of the coins when they were struck. Were they hammered ( that is, made by hand with a hammer ), or were they struck with a cheat wardrobe ?
Sommer Islands ( Bermuda ) Twelvepence ( Shilling ), Sixpence, Threepence and Twopence coins are all dateless. The Eric Newman Collection had an amazing plant of these .
Bermuda was never in truth linked to the United States or associated with the acculturation of North America. For much of the history of Bermuda, the independent aim of the colony was to host a british military base, as Bermuda had strategic importance in military terms.
Massachusetts Silver coins are immediately related to the U.S, while the coins of Bermuda are hardly related at all. The ongoing coinage of Massachusetts Silver was indirectly made possible by the alleged “ English Civil War ”, which very involved all of the british Isles, not fair England. This war lasted, approximately, from 1642 to 1651. In my article about NE coinage, the joining between the English Civil War and Massachusetts Silver is discussed .
It suffices to say here that, after the Parliamentarians defeated the monarchists, american colonists in Massachusetts perceived an opportunity to mint coins because there was then no reigning king to punish them for doing therefore. From 1649 to 1653, the Parliamentarians were struggling in their efforts to govern England .
The general impression at the prison term was that the parliamentarians and the rebel leader Oliver Cromwell were minimally concern in the colonies in North America. No one thought that they would prosecute or even investigate american colonists for minting coins .
It is worth repeating that, except for the NE neologism and the Oak Tree Twopence, all Massachusetts Silver coins are dated “ 1652 ”, even coins minted in 1682. many people in the seventeenth century were aware that these coins were backdated. The main bespeak of the “ 1652 ” go steady was to avoid offending the king after the monarchy was restored in England in 1660 .
In european culture over most of the last 1,000 years, the neologism of argent or gold coins was a royal prerogative. It was illegal for local governments, colonies or secret firms to commence ash grey or gold neologism without royal approval .
For many years, the government of King Charles II ignored Massachusetts Silver coins. It was believed that 98 % of them being dated “ 1652 ” was a component that contributed to the coins being ignored by the government in England. Few Massachusetts Silver coins traveled to England, anyhow .
For multiple reasons, King Charles II did finally become angry at the colonists in New England. The king revoked the Massachusetts Bay Colony charter in 1684. neologism was not then a central return, but the laws authorizing and regulating the mint of Massachusetts Silver coins were negated by the revocation of this charter.

Design Types

Christopher Salmon, MD, has demonstrated that Willow Tree coins were hammered, as were NE type neologism. basically, they were struck with a forge ; no kind of machine or mechanical apparatus was employed. In ancient times and in chivalric Europe, however, forge coins were made with blanks that were heated before striking. In contrast, Salmon maintains that the blanks used for Willow Tree coins were kept ‘ coldness ’, and frankincense often compulsory three or four blows to bring about the design elements .
Massachusetts Silver Willow Tree
It is even more curious that Dr. Salmon theorizes that all the Oak Tree neologism and all the large size Pine Tree coins were struck on a rocking chair press, a rarity even in past era. This target is discussed in my 2015 article on Willow Tree neologism. Dr. Salmon ’ s reserve on Massachusetts Silver coinage was published by the American Numismatic Society (ANS) in 2010 .
‘ NE ’ type neologism and Willow Tree coins are very expensive. Beginners and veteran collectors who have not studied Massachusetts Silver neologism should start with relatively less expensive coins. After buying a few Massachusetts Silver coins and viewing many of them, collectors should formulate a strategy, which incorporates their own respective interests and fiscal constraints .
It makes smell to collect these by type or by readily apparent kind before even thinking about all the elusive variations. Because the steel required to make quality dies was then rare, the life of each die was prolonged by lapping, re-engraving languish design elements, and other means. sol, two Massachusetts Silver coins that were struck from the same match of dies may have very unlike die characteristics if one of the dies was notably re-worked for the determination of making it last longer .
An interested collector may wish to begin with Oak Tree coins and Pine Tree coins. many collectors enjoy acquiring barely these and do not feel compelled to seek Willow Tree or NE type coins .

Oak Tree Coins

Oak Tree Threepence coins are extremely scarce. A decent objet d’art might cost from $ 5,000 to $ 1,000, depending upon pungency, planchet quality, surface timbre, originality, luster and tone, among early factors. In April 2013, Heritage sold an attractive Oak Tree Threepence that had been “ bend ” for $ 3,055 .
Massachusetts Silver Oak Tree A Very Fine grade Oak Tree Sixpence would probably retail in the $ 5,000 to $ 7,500 image. Back in 2011, when marketplace levels were higher than they are now, Stack’s-Bowers auctioned a PCGS-graded VF-25 Oak Tree Sixpence for $ 6,325. The obverse of this coin, however, is missing much detail due to a outstanding abnormality .
very Fine class Oak Tree Shillings could sell for prices ranging from $ 4,000 to $ 8,000. enough survive, though, such that a collector can view many of them before pursuing one that he or she finds to be peculiarly appealing. natural russet and dark fleeceable tones are frequently found on Oak Tree Coinage .
The ‘ Spiny ’ Oak Tree diverseness is rare and curious. A ‘ Spiny Tree ’ does not cost a huge fortune. In January 2013, Stack ’ s-Bowers sold a PCGS-graded EF-45 ‘ Spiny Tree ’ from the Ted L. Craige Collection for $ 8,225 .
In March 2017, Stack ’ s-Bowers auctioned a PCGS-graded EF-40 Pine Tree Threepence for $ 3,172.50. A coin of the like variety with better discolor would be worth more, though one that is not about deoxyadenosine monophosphate well struck may not be worth closely adenine much .
Multiple, Very Fine class Pine Tree Sixpence coins can be purchased for less than $ 4,350 each. In February 2017, the Goldbergs auctioned a neat Pine Tree Sixpence, obviously featuring natural tone. It was PCGS-graded as VF-30 and realized $ 3,525 .

Pine Tree Coins

There are two types of Pine Tree Shillings. One type was struck on much wide, prepare blanks ( planchets ). In other words, the diameters of the ‘ Large Size ’ Pine Tree Shillings are well greater than the diameters of ‘ Small Size ’ Pine Tree Shillings .
In the past, it was frequently thought that all Pine Tree coins–and probably all Oak Tree coins, too–were struck with a cheat press. In 2010, Dr. Salmon rocked the mint community by putting forth attest and well reasoned arguments that ‘ Small Size ’ Pine Tree Shillings were the merely type of Massachusetts Silver neologism struck with a screw wardrobe !
Massachusetts Silver Pine Tree ‘ Large Size ’ and ‘ Small Size ’ Pine Tree Shillings were not intended to differ markedly in weight. The ‘ size ’ here refers entirely to the diameter, angstrom far as I know. The ‘ Small Size ’ Shillings were struck on slurred blanks .
Planchets are prepare blanks. It does not seem that the blanks were badly ‘ prepared ’. For Massachusetts Silver, ‘ blank ’ or flan might be a more appropriate term than planchet .
Although accounts by leading researchers are indecipherable as to the nature and details of the contracts awarded and/or government directives to Hull and Sanderson over the years, it is clear that the concluding contract was awarded in 1675 and was written to last for seven years. early, there were directives or “ contracts ” regarding the mint in 1660, 1662 and 1667 .
It is very plausible that changes in invention types stemmed from changes in government policy rather than decisions by Hull and Sanderson. indeed, it is likely that the ‘ Small Size ’ ( very smaller diameter ) Pine Tree Shillings were struck between 1675 and 1682 or so. This prison term inning was suggested by Sydney Noe, who wrote multiple, detailed articles about Massachusetts Silver for ANS publications in the twentieth century .
Did the final contract end production of threepence and sixpence coins ? obviously a narrow or politics directive in 1667 ended the twopence denomination. The details regarding the acquisition of a screw press may be fascinating .
At the August 2017 ANA Convention, Stack ’ s-Bowers auctioned a PCGS-graded VF-30 ‘ Large Size ’ Pine Tree Shilling for $ 3,760. The CAC poser on this coin must have been placed before 2015, as CAC ceased accepting submissions of colonial coins in December 2014 .
In March 2017, Stack ’ s-Bowers auctioned a PCGS-graded VF-25 ‘ Small Size ’ Pine Tree for the same sum, $ 3,760. More so than with 20th-century coins, there are many variables that may affect the grocery store value of a Massachusetts Silver coin. Planchet and dramatic quality vary widely, as does toning and open quality. The nature and extent of past cleanings are relevant. Some coins have about zero touch marks, while others of the lapp type are full of scratches. still others have been repaired or surgically modified. The nature and extent of mint-caused imperfections vary widely, besides .
Some collectors, albeit a small count, build sets by variety and die express. several varieties are sol rare that barely two to eight are known. The auction and Internet-sale prices cited here are exemplify relatively moo costs for Massachusetts Silver coins. rare varieties, rare types, highly well hit coins and/or uncirculated coins all may cost substantially more than prices cited in this discussion .
In regard to Oak Tree and Pine Tree types, it is practical for collectors to seek to buy pleasing, Very Fine grade Massachusetts Silver coins, with attractive natural tone, for prices ranging from $ 3,000 to $ 8,000 each. ‘ NE ’ and Willow Tree types are dramatically more expensive. A type set, however, of just Pine Tree types may be in truth clean and fun to build .
It is exciting to collect Massachusetts coins made during the late seventeenth century. The roots of the U.S. were then identical minor and growing in an amazing manner.

© 2017 Greg Reynolds
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