Author Topic: Massachusetts first coinage  (Read 148 times)

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Offline Deeman

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Massachusetts first coinage
« on: November 25, 2021, 07:52:34 PM »
In 1652, silver shillings, sixpences, and threepences started to be struck by silversmiths John Hull and Robert Sanderson at Boston.

The first design was ‘NE’ types, produced for just a few months (‘NE’ indicated ‘New England’) which were stamped on the reverse with the denomination of III, VI or XII. As the remainder of the coin was blank, it was easy to clip the coins.



NE shilling



NE sixpence



This problem was directly addressed by legislation in 1652, in which the General Court changed the style of the coins so that they had a more complex design. This resulted in the ‘Willow Tree’ design issued 1653-60, followed by the ‘Oak Tree’ 1660-67 and finally the ‘Pine Tree‘ design from 1667 to 1682. All were dated 1652.



Willow tree shilling



Oak tree sixpence



Pine tree shilling

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Massachusetts first coinage
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2021, 09:46:40 PM »
The coins were obviously taking advantage of the English civil war, as they were issued without permission in times when colonial affairs were not a priority.

There is a fun story around a visit to England and its king of the governor of Nova Scotia, Sir Thomas Temple, who was sympathetic to the cause of the Massachusetts coins and a smooth diplomat. Temple brought up the subject and the king reacted predictably about his prerogative to issue coins. Temple spoke of the need of the colonist to have good coins in order to prosper through trade, presenting an oak tree shilling to the king. Charles asked what sort of tree was on the coin and Temple answered unhesitatingly that it was the royal oak which saved his majesty's life. Charles laughed and changed his mind, calling the colonists "honest dogs".

It is clear from the story that though the coins were not officially approved, the king tolerated them. Therefore, they are coins, not tokens.

Peter
« Last Edit: November 26, 2021, 04:14:10 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

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Re: Massachusetts first coinage
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2021, 02:48:17 PM »
In that era almost anything considered to have value was used for trade, the most important being wampum. Wampum was different colored shells which were strung together on string and were not only used for trade but for body decoration as well. So important was wampum in the daily lives of the New England settlements that the a value of "6 a penny for any size under 12d" was assigned to them by the General Court of Massachusetts in 1637. By 1661 Wampum was no longer considered legal tender. By then some small amounts of foreign coinage began to appear but the majority of trade was done with furs, bullets, corn, etc.

The 1652 date struck on nearly all "New England Coinage" was for the purpose of deception. The exception was some examples of the Oak Tree twopence dated 1662. The reason for that is unknown to me but could simply have been a die cutters error.  In any case, by then the English Civil War was over and Cromwell was in power. This gave the coinage a sense of legitimacy.

Bruce
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Massachusetts first coinage
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2021, 06:29:22 PM »
I did a little more research on the reason for the Oak Tree 2-pence dated 1662. Apparently, the examples dated 1652 are 19th century forgeries made to sell to collectors by Thomas Wyatt and others. All legitimate pieces are dated 1662. There's also at least one example that appears to carry the date 1672 but it's actually struck from a badly reworked 1662 die.

Bruce
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Offline Deeman

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Re: Massachusetts first coinage
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2021, 10:39:29 PM »
I did a little more research on the reason for the Oak Tree 2-pence dated 1662. Apparently, the examples dated 1652 are 19th century forgeries made to sell to collectors by Thomas Wyatt and others. All legitimate pieces are dated 1662. There's also at least one example that appears to carry the date 1672 but it's actually struck from a badly reworked 1662 die.

Very interesting. I see that the twopence coin is only found in the Oak Tree series.

Offline Deeman

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Re: Massachusetts first coinage
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2021, 10:56:37 PM »
I have modified the text under 'British Territories Past and Present' accordingly.

Offline brandm24

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Re: Massachusetts first coinage
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2021, 01:40:19 PM »
Very interesting. I see that the twopence coin is only found in the Oak Tree series.
Yes, I noticed that too. Not sure why but there must have been a need for a "middle denomination" coin. The later series of Pine Tree coins also didn't have a twopence coin.

Bruce
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