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Important AU58 Lord Baltimore Shilling
(1659) SHILNG Lord Baltimore Shilling AU58 NGC. Breen-64,
Large Head, R.6. The Boston Mint was sufficiently productive that
most collectors can own a Pine Tree or Oak Tree example. The
other early silver series struck for the colonies, the Lord
Baltimore coinage, is decidedly rarer. Even advanced numismatists
can only dream of owning a Baltimore penny, of which six pieces are
known. The other three issues, the fourpence, sixpence, and
shilling, are collectible but hard to find, especially in better
Finest of Only Two NGC-Certified Examples
Most examples of Baltimore shillings are from the present dies. A Small Head variant exists, but is unique in silver and extremely rare in copper. It was probably a rejected prototype for the shilling production, and the same can be said for Breen-67, a shilling with a different shield design known from a single specimen.
The present partly lustrous shilling is delicately toned in caramel-gold and powder-blue. Slight wear is evident on Cecil Calvert's forehead, nose, drapery, and hair. Both sides are essentially (and surprisingly) free from abrasions, although a few faint roller marks (as produced) are visible near the profile. The upper left obverse field appears swollen, as made from a sinking obverse die. The obverse has faint clash marks from an unknown source near the rounded bust tip.
On the reverse, there appears to be clash marks from broad denticles near the right side of the crowned shield, similar to those seen on certain die states of the Sheldon-220 1801 cent. Clearly, the dies were significantly wider than the flans. All legends are well engraved with the exception of the second M in MVLTIPLICAMINI, which is entered low relative to the neighboring A.
The head of Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, was so iconic of Maryland numismatics that it again surfaced on the 1934 Maryland Tercentenary commemorative half. However, that bust was three-quarters facing instead of a left profile. William Idler store cards of 1859 to 1860 used a more derivative imitation of the Maryland silver coinage. These specifically imitated the prohibitively rare Maryland penny. Idler was a Philadelphia coin dealer, and the father-in-law of Captain John Haseltine of Confederate cent fame.
Cecil Calvert (1609-1675) never visited his American colony, although his two younger brothers went there to manage it. Cecil inherited the colony from his father, George Calvert, who was granted the title by King Charles I, a fellow Catholic sympathizer. Specie, of course, was in short supply in the Maryland colony, and tobacco circulated as money. As production of tobacco rose, its purchasing power diminished. To stabilize the economy, silver coins bearing Cecil's bust and personal arms were struck in London and exported to the colonies, circa 1659.
The Protestant English government learned of Calvert's coinage, and Cecil was arrested in October 1659. He was charged with two crimes: underweight silver coinage, and the exportation of specie from England. The Baltimore coinage was approximately 30% underweight to induce it to remain in the colony, although the unfamiliar types soon traded by their weight instead of face value. Calvert's punishment, if any, is unrecorded, but it is known that his coinage remained in circulation in Maryland until at least 1671.
NGC has certified only two Lord Baltimore shillings, the present piece and an XF45 example. PCGS, which has been grading Colonial coins for a longer period of time, has certified two as AU58 and a single finer example as MS61. The present piece ranks among the finest graded Lord Baltimore shillings, and would be the highlight of any Early American holding. Listed on page 38 of the 2008 Guide Book. (NGC ID# 2U3L, PCGS# 34)
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