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    (1652) Noe 3-B NE Shilling, AU53
    Foundational American Coinage

    (1652) SHILNG New England Shilling, AU53 PCGS. Noe 3-B, W-80, Salmon 3-C. R.7. 28 mm. 70.98 grains. Die alignment: 210°. A remarkable example of this foundational American coinage, among the finest known of both the specific variety and the type. The NE and XII punches are boldly impressed, with some weakness at the lower-left corner of NE and along the left edge of XII, a trait shared with even the finest known example of this variety. The planchet exhibits the waviness typical of these coins while maintaining roundness better than most; its surface quality is good. Roughness toward the lower right of the obverse and lower median of the reverse is an artifact of the planchet preparation process that is augmented by the punch strike on the opposite side. Likewise, the planchet edges show only one small split of the sort often encountered on these crudely produced pieces, visible on the obverse at 1 o'clock. The coloration is exactly what one would hope for: steel-gray with deep, undisturbed toning tending toward an earthy brown rather than the flashy silver of pieces that have been artificially brightened. Post-strike surface marks are minimal and commensurate with the grade assigned, with two ticks in the lower obverse field and a hairline extending down and curving out from the upper bar of the E serving more to identify this example than to detract from it.

    The New England coinage is of unparalleled importance as the foundational coinage of what is now the United States. In May 1652, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony authorized:

    " ... that all persons whatsoeuer haue libertie to bring vnto the mint howse, at Boston, all bullion, plate, or Spanish coyne, there to be melted & brought to the allay of sterling siluer by John Hull, master of the [said] mint, & his sworne officers, & by him to be coyned into twelue pence, six pence, & threepence peeces ... "

    Hull was widely admired both for his enterprising spirit and his devout Puritanism, with no less a worthy than Cotton Mather referring to him as an "exemplary person ... as well as emphatically a good man." Hull recorded in his diary that "I chose my friend Robert Sanderson, to be my partner, to which the Court consented." Production began almost immediately. Hull's biographer, Hermann F. Clarke, concluded that while the mint probably would never have been established were it not for the energy and initiative of Hull, it was likely Sanderson who was responsible for its daily operation.

    The New England coinage was not struck with engraved dies like most coins. Instead, punches were used, much like the punches used by silversmiths for hallmarks and decorative devices -- which makes sense as both Hull and Sanderson were silversmiths. These punches wore down more quickly than coin dies and required regular recutting. Jack Howes (The Colonial Newsletter, 2010) demonstrated that all three NE shilling obverse punches are actually the same punch that had been significantly recut twice. The NE punch as used on the Noe 3-B is near the end of its productive life, having been somewhat crudely recut from the more graceful (but impractically slender) Noe-2 punch. The lines have been thickened, and a distinct serif has been added to the top horizontal of the E. A focal die crack extends from the lowest horizontal of the E down and to the right through the extended flourish of the N and is more distinct than it was on the Noe-2 iteration. Unlike the recut NE punch, the four reverse punches used on the NE coinage are all distinct. The Noe B punch is most easily identifiable by the crack that extends from the lower left of the second I down to the edge of the flat portion of the punch. This coin shows an early state of this punch, with the crack expanding in later states to affect the lower portion of the first I.

    The NE coinage was produced for only seven weeks or so. It was halted on October 19, 1652 by the General Court, which ordered that the designs be changed so that henceforth "both shillings & smaller peeces shall haue a double ringe on either side, with this inscription (Massachusetts,) & a tree in the center on the one side, and New England, & the date of the yeere on the other side ... " This, of course, led to what we now call the Willow, Oak, and Pine Tree coinage.

    Our consignor, Alan Weinberg, notes this piece's

    "Superbly clean and unimpaired surfaces, unlike so many other NE shillings with their dents and 'teeth marks.' It is almost perfectly round and is one of the most attractive NE shillings of any variety. Acquired in 1980 from an obscure numismatic source, R.R. Wilson, who was introduced to me by dealer Sylvia Haffner."

    It is notable that neither grading service has certified an NE shilling of any variety as Uncirculated, a fact that makes this About Uncirculated example all the more desirable. The 2010 Howes census lists five pieces in detail and provides a few details on three more. This coin was part of the landmark exhibition of Massachusetts silver coinage at the American Numismatic Society in 1991 (Kleeberg catalog No. 5). Listed on page 39 of the 2020 Guide Book.

    Census of Noe 3-B NE Shillings
    1. AU58 NGC.
    Robert Coulton Davis (New York Coin & Stamp Co., 1/1890), lot 2352; Thomas Hall; Virgil Brand; Carl Wurtzbach (Plate Coin 4); T. James Clarke; F.C.C. Boyd; John J. Ford, Jr. (Stack's, 10/2005), lot 2; Jon Hanson (10/18/2005); Donald Groves Partrick (Heritage, 1/2015), lot 5517.
    2. AU55 PCGS.
    Sotheby's (5/1966), lot 154; Henry P. Kendall (Stack' Bowers, 3/2015), lot 2305.
    3. AU53 PCGS.
    William Cutler Atwater (B. Max Mehl, 6/1946), lot 1; Oliver E. Futter (B. Max Mehl, 11/1954), lot 1965-A. Previous censuses based on low-quality photographs considerably underestimated the condition of this example. (The Howes census incorrectly traces this to the Carl Würtzbach collection.) The present piece.
    4. AU53 PCGS.
    Abner Kreisberg (10/1978), lot 2.
    5. XF40 PCGS.
    Discovered in Great Britain; Stack's Bowers (1/2013), lot 10615; Poulos Family (Heritage, 8/2019), lot 3630.
    6. VF
    , estimated grade. Peter Gschwend (Elder, 6/1908), lot 1.
    7. VF
    , estimated grade; late state reverse. Ellis Robison Collection (Stack's, 2/1982), lot 4; Stack's (3/1984), lot 915.
    8. VF
    , estimated grade. William B. Osgood Field; ANS (Inv. 1946.89.72).
    9. Unknown.
    Noe cites an example in the George H. Clapp collection, but it is unillustrated by him and its subsequent disposition is unclear. The Kendall catalog listed an example as "Clapp-Stiles," but the Kenneth Stiles shilling was a Noe 3-A.
    Ex: William Cutler Atwater (B. Max Mehl, 6/1946), lot 1; Oliver E. Futter (B. Max Mehl, 11/1954), lot 1965-A; R.R. Wilson (1980).
    From The Alan V. Weinberg Collection, Part III.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 2AR9, PCGS# 13)

    View all of [The Alan V. Weinberg Collection, Part III ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 24
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