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    Description

    (1616) Sommer Islands Twopence, Fine 15
    W-11400, Small Star Variant

    (1616) 2PENCE Sommer Islands Twopence Fine 15 PCGS. Breen-7, W-11400, R.7. The Sommer Islands may have been discovered by Spanish adventurer Juan de Bermúdez in 1515, and today the island group is known as the Bermuda Islands. Bermúdez reportedly introduced a hardy species of hogs to the islands, which soon earned the name "Hogge Islands." In 1609, the islands were claimed for England by Sir George Somers, whose fleet was blown off-course on his mission to establish a new government at Jamestown in Virginia, and cast ashore at the islands during a hurricane. The name Sommer Islands was given in Sir George's honor upon his death in 1610.

    In 1616, Sommer Islands coinage became the first coinage struck for the English colonies in the New World. Under letters of patent of James I dated June 29, 1615 for the Bermuda Company, the following declaration reads (in part):

    "We have appointed a base coin which we send rated with our provisions, whereby you may give to such men their weekly wages when they work, and as you shall find them to deserve, with which coin it shall be lawful and free for them to buy any provisions out of the store, or any fish, corn, tools, or any such thing in the Islands where they can get the same. And to that end you shall proclaim the said coin to be current to pass freely from man to man, only throughout the islands, and not otherwise."


    Four denominations of rare Sommer Islands "hogge money" make up the Guide Book listings under the British New World Series category of U.S Colonial issues. Rarest of all is the threepence piece, followed by the twopence. Sixpence and shillings are seen most often, although each denomination is rare in its own right. This twopence example, like most Sommer Islands pieces seen, displays surface roughness from exposure to salt air and time spent beneath the ground. The obverse is characteristically sharper than the reverse, with the hog well-defined, and the spiny hair along its back fully defined. The piece is round with no splits or serious fissures, and its beaded border well-defined for the grade. On the reverse, two gun ports are clear, as is the the outline of the ship's hull. Traces of the rigging remain. "S" for Sommer is partially defined and "I" for Islands is clear.


    The present coin made its first appearance as part of Stack's Bowers Baltimore Rarities Night auction in March 2012. Reportedly, the coin was found in a home vegetable garden on the north shore of Bermuda Island. The consignor suggested it may have arrived at that location with soil excavated from the island's south shore that was delivered 15 years previously, dug from an old homesite.

    Two varieties of Sommer Islands twopence are known -- one with a Small Star between the hog's fore and aft legs, and another with a Large Star. These pieces are notoriously difficult to attribute due to the environmental factors that affect their surfaces. We defer to the PCGS attribution of Small Star, although the first I in "II" designating the denomination (seen above the hog's back) seems higher than the second I, characteristic of a Large Star piece. Deep greenish-brown, pebbled surfaces cover both sides of this Choice Fine example.
    From The Poulos Family Collection, Part II. (NGC ID# AUBB, PCGS# 2)


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The Poulos Family Collection, Part II ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2019
    5th-8th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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