Some Quintessential Staples of an Advanced US Collection

There’s a reason that the United States started coining its own money early in its infancy. In the front of your Red Book you can read all about the history of early colonial trade, highlighted by the use of wampum as a medium of exchange. As the English recovered from civil war and disregarded the American colonies, the need for colonially coined money became evident.

The Massachusetts General Court authorized coinage in 1652 which led to the production of so-called New England (or NE, as it was stamped on to the coins) coinage, and later to Willow, Oak and Pine Tree coinage in a combination of efforts to battle counterfeiters and keep colonial coinage in line with similar circulating pieces from England. The General Assembly of New Jersey authorized the St. Patrick coppers (which Mark Newby, an immigrant from Dublin, Ireland in 1681) as legal tender in the colony. These coins featured a “decorative brass insert” which, according to the Red Book, was to help prevent counterfeiting.

Today I was going through a fairly extensive sampling of colonial coinage and was pleased to find that the collector’s St. Patrick farthing clearly displayed the brass spot, unlike many other examples on which it’s not visible or has been removed. Accompanying the farthing was a St. Patrick’s halfpenny, though the brass insert had been removed (what a shame!). Additionally this collector had a wonderful example of both large and small planchet Pine Tree Shillings from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

I certainly agree with the Red Book and think that at some point, advanced collections of US coinage should have a nice colonial of the collector’s choosing, for no other reason than the depth of the history associated with such pieces. While our lotting is not yet underway for our upcoming November Baltimore Sale, this well put-together collection of colonial coinage will be in the main sale. If you’re interested in any of these pieces, be sure to check back closer to the auction for lot numbers!

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