Lot #12. 1652 Massachusetts Bay Colony Pine Tree Shilling. Large Planchet. W-740, Noe-8, Crosby 1b-D. URS-9. Monogrammed NE in Legend. MS-64 (PCGS).
The September 2009 Philadelphia Rarities Sale - 9/22/2009
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The silver coinage of Massachusetts Bay Colony is among the most important in the history of the New World. It is the first locally struck coinage in the territory that would eventually become the United States of America, and the fact that these coins were produced at all says much for the resilience of the hardy Puritan settlers who set about establishing a new Zion in the wilds of the North American continent. The colony received a royal charter from the British crown in 1629 that bestowed upon the colonists all of the powers necessary for them to rule and govern their enterprise. Interestingly, however, the charter did not expressly give the right of coinage to the magistrates who governed the colony, although this right was upheld (if not initially granted) for Cecil Calvert, second Lord Baltimore when his issue of coinage for Maryland was challenged by authorities in England. Nonetheless, the intersection of several economic and political events--the proliferation of counterfeit Spanish Colonial silver in New England and the execution of King Charles I in England among them--gave the colonists in Massachusetts both cause and opportunity to produce their own silver coinage. That they overstepped their bounds seems to have been either overlooked or not appreciated by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, but the fact was established after the restoration of the monarchy and contributed to the revocation of the colony's charter in 1684.
The Pine Tree in its two formats was the final and most technically sound design used to strike silver 12 Twelvepence, or Shillings, for Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Noe-8 variety of the Large Planchet type is easy to attribute by the presence of a broad, sharply curved flag on the digit 5 in the date on the reverse. The presence of two beads below the second letter S in MASATHVSETS on the obverse distinguishes Noe-8 from the later die state attributed as Noe-8.2.
Minting defects abound on surviving examples of the Noe-8 variety, and these range from a poorly centered strike to planchet cracks and clips. On the other hand, obverse definition is usually sharp, although the reverse is only found with such detail in earlier states. With these considerations in mind, we unhesitatingly declare this important near-Gem to be among the most carefully produced and visually appealing examples of the variety in numismatic hands. We note only a single, extremely shallow planchet clip (as made) at the upper-left obverse border, the balance of the flan well rounded in shape. The obverse impression is drawn toward the top, as almost always seen, but the loss of detail from this feature is so minor as to be easily overlooked. Overall definition on that side of the coin is very sharp. The reverse is remarkably bold, indicating an earlier die state, a few diagnostic die breaks (as struck) notwithstanding. Blended lavender-gray and steel-gray patina to both sides, the surfaces remarkably smooth for the type with nary a distracting abrasion to report. A highly impressive example that will establish the importance of any Colonial-era collection in which it is included.