Colonial America is probably thought by most Coin World readers to mean the territory of the modern United States in the era before 1776, or 1781, or 1784, depending upon whether you think we stopped being a colony when we said so, when the hostilities over it ended, or when the end of that war was fully ratified. This is perhaps the narrowest possible view.
There are all sorts of discoveries that inhabit numismatic dreams. Instead of being strictly the realm of fantasy, these sorts of finds really do happen.
The half cent was a late addition into Thomas Jefferson’s decimal plan of cents, dollars, and eagles. Jefferson supposed that a cent would be of low enough value to suffice most small transactions. Despite his belief, Jefferson left the door open for something smaller, taking a cue from the coins then in circulation.
Since the mid-1990s, the Colonial Coin Collectors Club convention has been a can’t miss event for enthusiasts of America’s pre-federal coinage. Long held in Boston, in recent years the C4 show has been held in Baltimore in conjunction with the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Expo.
If you’d like to build a collection full of lustrous gems, each perfect and beautiful, Colonial coins may not be for you. But if you find something interesting, even educational, in imperfection, join the club. Various Colonial coin series, or even individual varieties, appear with their own typical, endemic flaws that help explain how they were made.
The attraction that brings tourists to New England in the fall also appears on the longest-running series of coins struck in colonial New England: trees. Following the production of the simple NE (New England)coins from June to October 1652, Massachusetts authorized a brand new design that remained until the Boston Mint closed in 1682.
The economy of North America was powerful enough in the 18th century that international trade frequently replenished the amount of gold coins its wealthy merchants’ held. Along with those chiefly Portuguese or Spanish American minted gold coins were English guineas. Guineas dated 1776 are popular among collectors today, but earlier types of George I and II, with...
Changes in the designs of coins and paper currency are often controversial. Few pre-Federal issues lasted long enough to see major design overhauls that attracted widespread notice. Without the sort of published public commentary that attends such modifications today, numismatists are left to interpret little evidence aside from the coins themselves.
Close your eyes and imagine a coin that circulated in pre-Federal America. Now picture the coins in the hands of a person preparing to spend it. While we have all wondered who spent our cherished coins, most modern numismatists have not paused to contemplate the role that Founding Mothers played in the early American economy.
In Colonial times, any white male Anglican adult landowner could cast votes for any number of local offices, including representation in Colonial assemblies and town councils. Those who ran tended to be wealthy aristocrats or merchants. In the 1740s and 1750s the Quaker party, mainly wealthy men from Philadelphia, took a commercial and pacifist approach to dealing with...