US Coins

Writers explore early American coppers in CNL

The chronology of St. Patrick, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts coppers in the collection of the American Numismatic Society, and a survey of known dates and varieties of nonregal, dated Irish halfpence, are detailed in the December issue of The Colonial Newsletter, a thrice-annual ANS publication.

Colonial Newsletter Editor Oliver D. Hoover tackles the St. Patrick coppers and Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts coppers in several different articles. Jeff Rock contributes his survey of the Irish issues.

Hoover writes that the discovery of two examples of small St. Patrick coppers from the wreck of the royal yacht Mary provides evidence that the denomination was already circulating in 1675, “but cannot tell us how much earlier it might have been produced.”

The HMY Mary, according to Hoover, “sank on March 24, 1675, of the contemporary Old Style (Julian) calendar. This date converts to April 4, 1675, on the modern New Style (Gregorian) calendar.” The yacht, which had struck the Skerries, a dangerous group of rocks off the north coast of Anglesey, was discovered in 1971 by recreational divers, and since 1974, has been a protected wreck site.

Hoover explains that the obverse iconography of a 1675 gold double ducat issued by the Swiss canton of Luzern offers evidence toward unravelling the mystery, since the design is similar to the design on one side of the St. Patrick issue. Hoover suggests that the Swiss gold coin may have served as a model for the St. Patrick copper piece.

Hoover’s second article illustrates, with images and narratives, forgeries of Vermont coppers in the ANS collection, as well as genuine Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts coppers.

Rock explains that his research concludes that between 5,000 and 10,000 different varieties of counterfeit British and Irish halfpence and farthings exist, making the pieces the most encountered coins in circulation in Colonial and Federal America. The varieties span royal reigns, two countries and two denominations.

Rock states the two largest series of counterfeits of interest to Colonial collectors are those from the reigns of George II and George III.

The Colonial Newsletter is available at the rate of $35 per year for ANS members and $50 for nonmembers.

For inquiries concerning the publication, contact Megan Fenselau, ANS, 75 Varick St., 11th Floor, New York, NY 10012, email her at or telephone her at 212-571-4470, Ext. 117.

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