US Coins

1652 Willow Tree shilling from 1711 shipwreck

Before the first U.S. coins were struck for widespread circulation at the Philadelphia Mint in 1793, a wide variety of coins circulated in America including a mix of foreign coins and Colonial and Confederation issues. The broad label of “Colonial issues” encompasses multiple major types, and most people’s introduction to this area comes through A Guide Book of United States Coins — the “Red Book” — which lists major varieties. Specialists have gone into exhaustive detail in each of these areas, and the coins aren’t always pretty. Here are three that were offered by Stack’s Bowers Galleries at the Whitman Baltimore Expo that show that these historically important issues don’t have to be attractive to be very expensive.

Here's one of three “ugly” Colonial rarities we profile in this week’s Market Analysis:

The Lot:

1652 Willow Tree shilling, Fine Details, Saltwater Damage

The Price:


The Story:

The Willow Tree silver coins of Massachusetts were struck with the first of three distinct tree types found among these early silver pieces, with the Willow Tree type followed by the Oak Tree type from 1660 to 1667 and the Pine Tree type from 1667 to 1682. Though the Massachusetts silver coins were struck over a three-decade period, nearly all carry the date 1652.

Connect with Coin World:  

Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter

All Willow Tree shillings are expensive and the example offered at Stack’s Bowers’ March 29 Baltimore Sale was graded Fine Details, Salt Water Damage by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. It was recovered from the shipwreck of the HBMS Feversham, a 32-gun British frigate stationed in North American waters that went down in 1711 as it traveled from New York City toward Canada.

The SS Central America wreckage just keeps on givingSS Central America reveals thousands of new findings, plus celebrating the ‘house organ’: Another column in the June 19 Coin World expounds on some intriguing half dollar varieties.

The ship’s contents provide a case study in the coins that circulated in New York at the time, which included all three types of Massachusetts silver issues. This coin sold for $28,200, more than double the $11,162.50 it realized when offered as part of the Donald Groves Partrick auction in 2015.

Community Comments