A pleasing example of an elusive and historically distinctive issue, coined for Sir Lord Baltimore Cecil Calvert for circulation in his proprietary colony of Maryland. This deep slate-gray specimen is well-worn but not noticeably marked by its stay in circulation.The usual die damage from a cock-eyed clash is seen on the right side of Calvert's Arms on the reverse. A natural planchet split engages both sides, the split down through the cross above Calvert's head on the obverse and upward from the reverse rim at 6 o'clock, passing between the M and V in that spot and terminating at the bottom of the Arms. Additionally, a small rim flaw, as struck, is seen at the 6 o'clock position on the obverse and carries onto the reverse at the noon position. Other than those two naturally occurring flaws, no marks of any appreciable measure can be seen, even under low magnification. Specialists and want list collectors alike should bear in mind that this specimen is an absolutely choice example despite its modest assigned grade, and we suspect a great showing from this piece as it crosses the auction block.
The terms of Calvert's grant called for him to be guaranteed all rights enjoyed by the Bishop of Durham, who had issued coins in his own name during the Middle Ages. Thus, Calvert had shillings, sixpences, groats (four pence), and copper pennies (or denariums) coined bearing his bust and Arms, and passed local ordinances in Maryland calling for their mandatory circulation. He ran afoul of British authorities, who frowned on him exporting silver from the mother country no matter what the terms of his claim may have been. Despite his legal troubles, coins of every denomination reached Maryland and began circulating there in the early 1660s. Today, most survivors of this denomination are in poor condition, often holed and plugged after use in jewelry, badly polished, well-worn, or a combination of the above. While sixpences often survive in decent grade, thanks in part to a hoard of about 20 pieces located in England in the last decade, the shillings rarely fared so well. While a few high grade pieces exist today, more than one of them shows what may be charitably called negative eye appeal.
From our (Stack's) sale of the Philip G. Straus Collection, May 1959, lot 3.