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.
The obverse carries a Latin legend translating to “Be vigilant and
trust God” and the reverse bears the crowned coat of arms between the denomination.