US Colonial and Early States’ Silver Coins

Posted by on June 3, 2012
1652 SHILNG Pine Tree Shilling Large Planchet reverseSC US Colonial  US Colonial and Early States Silver Coins

1652 Massachusetts Pine Tree Shilling Large Planchet reverse

US Colonial and Early States’ Coins were necessary for commerce before the United States was able to establish its own mint. There are several different types of these coins.

First of all there are those US Colonial and States’ Coins issued or authorized by the Crown of England; these were either struck in Great Britain at the Royal Mint in the Tower of London or with permission of the king were struck here under the jurisdiction of the major land owner or noble with the title for a specific colony.

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Then there are those US Colonial and States’ Silver Coins that were struck when the king was beheaded during England continuing civil conflict. Also I am inclined to include various silver coins struck without the permission of the king but the due authority of the colony felt entitled because of obvious need and capability.

SC 1719 20 Sous New France Colonial obverse US Colonial and Early States Silver Coins

1720 New France Colonial 20 Sous obverse

There were also French colonial coins struck in France and in their holdings in North America. The Spanish also had been minting an extraordinarily large volume of silver coins in Mexico and plenty of those, especially after the United States Revolutionary War was won, that were used in daily commerce.

The final class of pre-US Mint currency is the State coins. The individual states were given the right to mint their own currency, until 1792 when the United States Congress had formed the US Mint and gave the US Mint the sole responsibility of minting all United States currency.

There are also numerous tokens produced which were promissory metal piece that they are worth a certain amount of silver usually and can be spent as regular US Colonial and State issued coins.

One of the “New England” coins is the 1652 Shilling, with one threepence specimen known and 8 sixpence coins known to still exist. This first metal coin struck in the British colonies exclusively in Massachusetts is an extremely simple design. A strike on one side with only “NE” and then the denomination on the other side with only the Roman numeral equivalence of pence, i.e. “III”, “VI”, and “XII” for the threepence, sixpence, and shilling respectively.

SC US Colonial 1652 3PENCE Pine Tree Threepence obverse US Colonial and Early States Silver Coins

1652 Colonial US Pine Tree Threepence obverse

Later silver twopence, threepence, sixpence, and shillings were struck with a tree in the middle of the obverse design and the town of the mint encircling the outer rim and then on the reverse side is the date stacked over the Roman numeral value in the center and “NEWENGLAND”, sometimes with other identifying marks, encircling the outer rim of the coin.

SC US Colonial 1659 6PENCE Lord Baltimore Sixpence obverse US Colonial and Early States Silver Coins

1659 Colonial US Lord Baltimore Sixpence obverse

These designs made it more difficult for people to trim them for the silver without it being obvious. The trees used are the oak, willow and the fir tree. There are a large number of variations amongst these coins; the fir tree type is the most common of these rare silver coins. Since many of these are made from a wide range of individual die sets instead from a master die there is a wide variety and numbers minted from type to type. More in depth research is suggested when collecting them and determining scarcity of a certain variety.

SC US 1776 Continental Dollar US Colonial and Early States Silver Coins

1776 US Continental Dollar

When the first Lord of Baltimore passed away his son, Cecil Calvert became the second Lord of Baltimore. Cecil Calvert took his prerogative to have coins minted and ordered silver graots (fourpence), sixpence, and shillings from the Royal Mint in

London. All of which contained his portrait and family coat of arms. Later, after the US Revolutionary War was won Maryland would strike two different silver coins; the Chalmers’s Mint in Annapolis, Maryland minted silver shilling in 1783. Then in 1790 Maryland struck threepence silver coin.

Most of the States in the early US struck there coins in copper which was readily available or issued a wide range of paper currencies. Tin was also used to strike tokens and medals, for a full range of denominations. The most impressive coin and frequently replicated and counterfeited is the Continental dollar. The Continental dollar was designed by Benjamin Franklin and struck either with pewter, brass, or silver. There are only two of the silver Continental Dollar known and when sold these silver coins will go for more than a million dollars.

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