68.3 grains. As the first metallic currency in the British Colonies, the NE coinage is easily one of the most famous -- and important -- of all colonial issues. Deep golden-gray throughout with no surface marks to draw the viewer's eye. We do note, however, some faint old scratches around NE that come to light under low magnification. Some soft depressions and faint planchet waviness are seen, as made and are characteristic of genuine NE Shillings. NE punched at the 11 o'clock position, XII punched at the 1 o'clock position on their respective sides. The NE and XII are boldly and deeply punched, with just a hint of weakness in the surrounding cartouches.
A rare variety among a rare design type, with Noe III-B as offered here missing from some of the most important collections ever formed, including Stearns, Garrett, Picker, Norweb, Roper, the Hain Family Collection, MHS (1970), and Oechsner. The present piece is easily the visual equal -- and essentially the physical equal -- of Ford Part XII, lot 2 (Stack's, October 2005), the famous Wurtzbach Plate coin. When cataloger Michael Hodder wrote the description for Ford Part XII:2, he noted that he had seen but four examples of Noe III-B, a figure that included the Ford-Wurtzbach piece, and went on to note that Noe III-B is "extremely rare." Jack Howes' masterful article on the NE coinage in Colonial Newsletter 144 documents only 8 distinct examples of Noe III-B, and this specimen, a fresh example recently discovered in Great Britain and previously unknown to the numismatic fraternity, would make a ninth example of the variety.
From a relatively late state of the dies, with a bold crack from the bottom of the E downward through the tail of the N, below which it forks into two cracks; this is a later state than Ford:2. On the reverse denomination, the second I is slightly repunched, and a bold crack runs from the base of the I to the bottom edge of the cartouche, as seen in the Ford coin. The coin itself is of near-perfect roundness and, as noted, without serious problems of any nature.
The appearance of any NE shilling -- or its diminutive parts of sixpence and threepence -- at public auction is a numismatic event of no small proportion. We suspect more than one advanced specialist within the Massachusetts Bay Colony coinage discipline will set their sights on this famous American treasure. In fact, a superb NE shilling is the ultimate trophy coin, the first issue on American soil, and the small beginning to the great world of U.S. coinage that would follow over the ensuing 350 years. The great generalists have all owned at least one, and it is fair to say that having an NE Shilling begin the sale of your collection is a sure sign that the catalogue will be saved forever after. We are pleased to present here or first NE Shilling in nearly six years, the last example we sold was the Roach-Picker-Hain Specimen of Noe II-A, graded EF-40 (uncertified), that sold for $414,000 after spirited bidding. More recently, we sold a very rare ground found NE Sixpence in our November 2012 Baltimore Auction for a final price of $431,250. Only 60 NE Shillings of all die varieties are currently numismatically documented, fully 22 of which are permanently impounded in institutional collections such as the ANS, the British Museum and the Smithsonian. So it is no surprise why NE Shillings come to auction so infrequently and why we predict that bidding for this newly discovered specimen will be nothing short of intense.