(1688) American Plantations Token, MS63
(1688) TOKEN American Plantation Token, 11 Harp Strings MS63
NGC. N. 4-D, W-1150, R.8. 143.8 grains. This example of the
Newman 4-D variety is composed of 98% tin and 2% trace elements.
Splendid light to medium gray surfaces show considerable luster.
The reverse approaches a remarkable cameo appearance. The
distinctive beaded edge device is seen on both original and
restrike American Plantations tokens. The present spectacular piece
confirms the existence of the die combination that has been
questioned in the past, as does the only other example known of the
variety, part of a strongly held private collection, and similarly
graded. The reverse of this example is plated in Eric P. Newman's
1964 article "The James II 1/24th Real for the American
Plantations," reproduced before the current offering.
Newman 4-D, 11 Harp Strings
Only Two Known
A native of Flanders, John Roettier (1631-1703) and his brothers, Joseph and Phillip, devoted their lives to the engraving department of the Royal English Mint. John Roettier engraved the dies of the Plantations tokens, and those dies remained in his hands for much of his life, save for a brief period at the end of the 17th century, when they were controlled by the British Crown. A discussion of John Roettier and his family appeared in volume III of the Numismatic Chronicle for 1840-41, and is available online at Google Books. His descendants held the dies for more than a century, until they were sold to the English coin dealer Matthew Young in 1828. Young undertook the production of restrikes of the American Plantations tokens.
It is thought that only Newman varieties 4-D, 4-E, and 5-D exist as restrikes. Metallurgical testing of the Eric P. Newman coins at NGC fails to differentiate the originals from the restrikes, as the composition of every piece in this collection is nearly identical. In general, higher quality and minimal corrosion, a.k.a. tin pest, is a strong indication of restruck pieces. In his 1964 study of the series, Eric P. Newman discussed the restrikes of Matthew Young:
"Apparently Young only used two obverse dies (4 and 5) and two reverse dies (D and E). Quantities of combination 5-D were restruck in tin, along with a few 4-D and 4-E. All of these restrikes have a properly dotted edge."
Although Newman himself considers this piece to be a restrike, its importance as an extremely rare survivor from the limited production points to its important stature in the field of American colonial coinage. However, restrikes should have a substantial production and survival. The existence of only two confirmed pieces leads us to question the restrike status, and suggest that they might be original 17th century examples.
Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. (NGC ID# AUB2, PCGS# 49)
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