Schulman’s Ship shilling sale brings superb sum

Gold pieces used as gifts are rare today
By , Coin World
Published : 12/14/15
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An important collection of Dutch “Little Ship shilling” gold coins was a highlight of Schulman b.v.’s Nov. 20 and 21 auction, the firm’s 349th in its long history.

An offering of eight pieces struck in Utrecht, offered in individual lots, realized a combined €35,460 ($37,941 U.S.), including the 20 percent buyer’s fee. The star of the collection was the 1776 coin, graded Mint State 62 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., which realized €5,160 ($5,521), including the buyer’s fee.

These coins, called Scheepjesschelling in Dutch, are named for the three-masted ship that appears on the obverse of each coin, and were issued during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Ship shilling coins are known in silver and gold, but the gold issues are far rarer, and only a few provinces struck the pieces in gold. The “charming denomination” was issued in gold and could be bought as new year’s gifts, according to Tim Poelman, of Schulman. Some of these coins were granted as gifts to officials of the Dutch East India Company. 

This denomination was never issued in the provinces of Groningen, Overijssel and Friesland in silver or gold. Although silver examples from the Province of Zeeland were abundant, not one piece was struck there in gold, according to Poelman. Only two dates are known in gold for the province of Gelderland, but examples from the provinces of Utrecht and Holland were made in abundance. In Utrecht many dates are known between 1739 and 1794. 

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In 1670 Holland started minting the Ship shillings in gold, and thereafter minting occurred intermittently between 1674 and 1709. After 1722, minting of Ship gold shillings in Holland was almost a yearly occurrence, and in 1747 a piedfort (double the weight) version was even created, Poelman said.

The Ship gold shilling coins are nearly always struck on the weight of 2 ducats, which means that the weight of a gold version is about 7 grams. Ship gold shilling coins today are scarce, since most examples have been melted during the ages. 

The remaining pieces in the marketplace often show traces of assembly, for the reason that these were incorporated in ornamental pins and other kinds of jewelry in order to show of the owners’ well being and opulence, according to Poelman.

“What would otherwise be the use of such a beautiful coin if one couldn’t parade with it? It is sometimes hard to find Scheepjesschellingen struck in gold without any traces of assembly, even if it is a high quality coin,” he wrote. 

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