Lot #15. Undated (Circa 1659) Lord Baltimore Shilling. W-1080, Hodder -1A, Breen-64. URS-6. Large Portrait, MARIAE. MS-61 (PCGS).
The September 2009 Philadelphia Rarities Sale - 9/22/2009
View all lots in this auction
As a result of services rendered to the British Crown, George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, received a royal charter establishing him as sole proprietor of the New World colony that would eventually be known as Maryland. George died before the charter became official, but when it did it gave near-dictatorial powers to his son Cecil, second Lord Baltimore, over the colony. As with the charter issued to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, that granted to Calvert did not expressly state the right to issue coinage. Calvert assumed that it did, nonetheless, probably because the charter for Virginia did grant its proprietors that right. As events would prove, Calvert's charter was strong enough to place him beyond reproach when he executed his assumed right to coinage by strong-arming the colonial assembly into passing ordinances authorizing the coins and protecting them against the actions of counterfeiters.
The Lord Baltimore coinage was achieved in Penny, Fourpence, Sixpence and Shilling denominations, the coins being struck in London (the Tower Mint?) in the winter of 1658/1659. Their subsequent history is shrouded in mystery, although examples of all denominations are sufficiently rare today to suggest that very few pieces were struck, most were later melted or both scenarios are true. Survivors are offered only once in a very long while, and most are off the market in tightly held collections.
A definite highlight of the extensive Colonial-era coinage being offered in this sale, this Lord Baltimore Shilling may very well be the finest-known example of the type. Overall boldly struck, we note particularly intricate definition to Cecil Calvert's portrait on the obverse. There is some "flash" to the surfaces, this feature coming into view at more direct angles. Otherwise lightly toned in golden-apricot and pale-silver iridescence, the surfaces have come down to us without acquiring any significant abrasions. Softness of strike is minor and confined to isolated peripheral areas along the right-obverse and -reverse borders. Interested parties are urged to enter strong bids for this Condition Census piece--it may be many months before even a lower-grade Lord Baltimore Shilling becomes available for purchase.