A 1652 New England shilling that has been off the market for the
past 32 years traded hands privately Jan. 8 in Orlando, Fla., for just
less than $385,000.
Gardner, Mass., dealer Rex Stark said Jan. 9 that he sold the coin
to an unnamed dealer during dealer setup at the Florida United
Numismatists convention. Stark said the dealer plans to hold on to the
coin for the time being.
The silver coin last sold as a part of Stack’s June 18 and 19,
1981, auction where it brought $24,000 including the 10 percent
The 1652 shilling was offered by Stack’s in the auction of the
James E. Stiles Collection.
When offered in the 1981 Stack’s sale, the New England shilling
was described as in Extremely Fine condition. The coin is attributed
as Noe 3-B, as cataloged in The Silver Coinage of Massachusetts by
Sydney P. Noe. It is also attributed in Christopher J. Salmon’s 2010
reference as the Salmon 3-C die marriage.
Stark said the shilling was most recently part of a private New
England collection. The widow of the New England collector who
originally acquired the coin from the 1981 Stack’s auction contacted
Stark and asked him to sell the coin, Stark said.
Stark placed the coin in his current fixed price catalog No. 77
with a $385,000 asking price.
Stark said he was a close friend of the collector who acquired the
New England shilling at the Stack’s sale.
First in British North America
The Massachusetts silver coins were the first coins struck in
British North America, produced without royal approval (their issuance
coincided with the existence of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth) to
fill a commercial need for currency. By today’s standards, they appear
crude, struck on misshapen planchets with designs that were well below
even the standards set by mid-17th century government mints in Europe
and Spanish America. For many collectors, though, their appearance is
a great part of their charm.
The first series, called the New England or NE coinage, are
simple, irregularly shaped disks of silver, punch-stamped with NE on
one side and the denomination in Roman numerals on the other side:
III, for threepence; VI, for sixpence; and XII, for the shilling or twelvepence.
The New England coins were followed by the three “Tree” coinages.
Collectors have long adopted the names “Willow Tree” (for pieces
struck 1653 to 1660), “Oak Tree” (1660 to 1667) and “Pine Tree” (1667
to 1682). However, botanists would be hard-pressed to identify the
crudely engraved trees by species.
The issues were produced for the Massachusetts Bay Colony at the
provincial mint in Boston from 1652 through the early 1680s.
The New England series coins are undated. All but one of the
issues in the “Tree” coinage is dated 1652. The Oak Tree twopence
coins, which are dated 1662, are the exception. The dates refer, not
to years of production, but to the years in which the various
denominations were authorized by the Massachusetts Assembly, many
researchers believe; the twopence was authorized in 1662, and all the
other denominations were authorized in 1652. ■