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    (1616) Sommer Islands Sixpence, AU50
    Large Portholes, Ex: Eric P. Newman
    Among the Finest Known, W-11445

    (1616) 6PENCE Sommer Islands Sixpence, Large Portholes AU50 NGC. Breen-3, W-11445, R.6. 49.6 grains. Die rotation is about 30 degrees. This Sommer Islands sixpence, formerly in the collection of Eric P. Newman, is composed of 81% copper, 16% tin, 1% antimony, and 2% trace elements. This piece is among the finest known examples of the Sommer Islands sixpence of either variety. The sharpness is virtually Mint State, with beautiful green patina on each side. The only pieces that rival this example from the Eric P. Newman Collection are another AU50 specimen in the NGC Census and an AU53 coin at PCGS (11/19).

    The obverse shows a hog facing left below the denomination, VI, with a beaded circle and outer legend SOMMER ILANDS. The reverse has a westward sailing ship with four large portholes between two rows of closely spaced, studded planking. Nearly 30 examples of this variety are known, and one-third of those are from the Castle Island hoard. The other variety has two wide rows of planking that flanks the four small portholes. The Small Portholes variant is slightly scarcer, with a total population of less than 15 pieces in all grades, including seven from the Castle Island hoard.

    Historical Observations
    Max B. Spiegel presented considerable information about the Sommer Islands coinage in his August 2009 Colonial Newsletter article, discussing a possible engraver, methods of striking, composition, and the time of manufacture. The Somers Isles Company was incorporated on July 29, 1615, with a royal charter granting the right to distribute coins for use in Bermuda. A new governor, Daniel Tucker, arrived at the archipelago on May 16, 1616, and recorded that a base metal coinage would arrive with other provisions. Louis Jordan notes that no ships arrived there in 1617, so the coinage must have arrived during the last six months of 1616. If Royal Mint Chief Engraver Charles Anthony created the dies, he would have done so after the royal charter, and before his death on October 24, 1615. The coins were likely struck soon after the dies were engraved. The 1615-16 date assigned to these pieces appears accurate.

    The early provenance of this Sommer Islands piece begins with Jacob Giles Morris (1800-1854), a wealthy Philadelphia philanthropist and collector who drowned when the S.S. Arctic sank on September 27, 1854 off the coast of Newfoundland. His sister inherited his collection, and her descendants sold the coins, but his collection of colonial and continental currency remained intact and is now housed at Colonial Williamsburg. Notice of his loss at sea appeared in the October 13, 1854 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

    "Among the passengers on board the Arctic, who are, in all probability, lost, was Jacob G. Morris, of this city, a gentleman well known to most of the members of the community, and whose character can scarcely be too highly extolled, whether we judge him by the test of public philanthropy or private benevolence. As a member of the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Institution of the Blind, he devoted himself to the promotion of the interests of the Institution, and to the personal comfort of the patients, with a devotion which is not often equaled. At one time, during the interval between the resignation of one principal and the election of another, he assumed the entire charge of the establishment for several months. In the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital, his services were equally important, especially in the department for the Insane. His loss casts a gloom over a large circle of friends in this city."

    This coin was a highlight of several other prominent collections in later years, including the incomparable collection of Eric P. Newman. Listed on page 38 of the 2020 Guide Book.

    Ex: Jacob Giles Morris; Col. Robert C.H. Brock; University of Pennsylvania; Philip H. Ward, Jr; C.J. Dochkus; F.K. Saab; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society; Selections From the Eric P. Newman Collection, Part IV (Heritage, 5/2014), lot 30256, realized $129,250.
    From The HFW² Collection. (NGC ID# AUBF, PCGS# 5)

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

    View all of [The HFW2 Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 27
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