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Description

Sommer Islands Shilling, Small Sail, VF20
First Coinage Struck in the New World

(1615-16) SHILNG Sommer Islands Shilling, Small Sail VF20 PCGS. Sommer Islands coinage is among the most coveted Colonial coinage, not only because of its significant rarity, but also because, as the Guide Book points out, these coins were "the first struck for the English colonies in America."
In 1608, Jamestown began to suffer from an epidemic and a shortage of food and clean water. A "Relief Fleet" was dispatched to the colony, but the ships were separated by a severe storm, and sought refuge on Bermuda. There, sailors found abundant sources for food in wild hogs, which had been inadvertently introduced to the island by a prior shipwreck. Eventually, Sir George Somers made two smaller ships out of the one that had initially landed. Those ships were sent to Jamestown, where they were greeted enthusiastically by the colonists, who were close to starvation by that time.
The Virginia Company at one time included the Bermudas, but it was short-lived. In 1615 King James I granted a royal charter "for the plantation of the Somers Islands." This short time between the arrival of the remainder of the Relief Fleet and the 1615 royal charter is the period of origin of "Hogge money" as a part of United States coinage.
Hogge money was intended only as a local currency, and its value was tied entirely to the finances of the Bermuda Company. Proper coinage was promised to the early colonists but did not arrive until May 1616. In the interim "base coyne," in the form of what is known today as Hogge money or Sommer Islands coinage, was sent from England on a supply ship, depicting a wild swine on one side and a ship on the other.
Hogge money is invariably corroded, due to ground recovery of the pieces and the humid local climate. This piece has even, light corrosion over each side, and the surfaces are dark chocolate-brown overall. The types are nicely defined, especially the ship, when viewed beneath a strong light. Considering its crude hammer-struck method of manufacture, this piece is well detailed. The serious collector of early U.S. coins should consider this important example of one of the few survivors of the first coinage produced in the New World. A 1997 first edition of Coins of Bermuda, published by the Bermuda Monetary Authority, is included in the lot. Listed on page 34 of the 2011 Guide Book, where it is valued at $60,000 in VF. (PCGS# 6)

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Auction Dates
August, 2010
11th-15th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 4
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