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    Description

    (1659) Maryland Lord Baltimore Denarium
    The First Copper Coin Struck for North America
    W-1000, XF Details

    (1659) Maryland Lord Baltimore Denarium (Penny), Hodder 1-A, W-1000, R.7--Environmental Damage--NGC Details. XF. 66.3 grains. The third finest known example of this rare and enigmatic issue, and one of only five in private hands. A ground find discovered by a college student using a metal detector in 1977, this coin is remarkably well preserved, with all significant detail remaining visible. The obverse profile is clearly delineated, and the obverse legend, reading + CAECILIVS : DNS : TERRAE-MARIAE : &C. ("Cecil, Lord of Mary's Land, etc."), is entirely present. The reverse is equally distinct, with the crown and pennants bold and the reverse legend, + DENARIVM : TERRAE-MARIAE ("A Denarius of Mary's Land"), fully legible. A lengthy period spent buried has given the piece a green-brown coloration and uniform granularity, but not the serious pitting often seen on unearthed coins. The remaining detail suggests that this penny was in Extremely Fine condition when it first went underground.

    The Lord Baltimore coinage was struck by the Tower Mint for the Catholic Cecil Calvert, Second Baron Baltimore, during the political upheaval leading to the English Restoration of 1660. Through this turmoil, Lord Baltimore successfully produced and imported a multidenominational coinage struck exclusively for use in an American colony. The first samples arrived in Maryland in March 1660, around the time that the Oak Tree coinage was starting to be produced in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay. While the copper penny -- or "denarius," as it has been styled -- was referred to as a pattern for many years, this view has been discarded in recent times as a better understanding of the monetary status of copper coins in 17th-century England has been gained. The physical evidence supports the idea that these were intended for and saw circulation as coins, with most surviving examples being ground finds and all but one of the eleven known examples showing signs of circulation.

    If we relinquish the notion that the Lord Baltimore penny is a pattern, we can begin to appreciate it for what it is: the first copper coin specifically produced for and used in North America. John Kleeberg, in Numismatic Finds of the Americas, records findings in Virginia and Maryland. There are only three specimens of this coin known in Very Fine or better: the magnificent Partrick MS62 example sold in our January 2015 FUN Signature Sale; the present coin; and a piece graded PCGS VF35 in a private collection. The eight lower-grade pieces are all ground finds, and five of them reside in institutional collections (the Boston Museum of Fine Art's piece is confirmed as missing). The rarity of this piece is underscored when one realizes that neither the Garrett nor the Norweb Family Collections included an example. Listed on page 42 of the 2021 Guide Book.
    Ex: Bowers & Ruddy (2/1978), lot 1; John L. Roper, 2nd (Stack's, 12/1983), lot 46; Donald G. Partrick.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2021
    22nd-25th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
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