Spectacular 1652 Noe-5 Oak Tree Shilling
    MS66, Candidate for the Finest Known

    1652 SHILNG Oak Tree Shilling MS66 PCGS. CAC. Noe-5, R.2. Ex: Dwight N. Manley. 70.8 grains (per Ford catalog). This is a truly outstanding specimen. An Oak Tree shilling in Mint State 66 is something so remarkable that one must see and hold it in person to fully appreciate it. This lucky survivor is the finest example certified by PCGS (by a margin of two points) and is probably the finest Oak Tree shilling in existence (6/10). This piece was only recently certified by PCGS and now the merits of its high technical grade can be fully appreciated. Not only is this the finest Oak Tree shilling certified, but it is also the finest of the entire Oak Tree type. It is extremely unlikely that any specimen would surpass the quality of this piece.
    There are 11 known Oak Tree shilling varieties, struck from nine obverse dies and nine reverse dies. Noe-5 can be identified without much difficulty: On the obverse the lowest branches of the tree curve upward, and on the reverse there is a diagnostic die flaw in the center of the O in DOM. All but a few Noe-5 examples were struck with a clashed obverse die, which resulted in the tree being weakly defined. The reverse die was first used to strike Noe-4, and by that point several prominent die cracks have emerged at the right (facing) side.
    Around 1660, the Willow Tree design was altered to feature a tree with "a series of branches without leaves, making it easier to engrave" (Lou Jordan, 2002). The result was the Oak Tree series, which also saw the introduction of the twopence denomination in 1662. The new design was coupled with significant improvements in engraving and minting. A rocker press was probably still used, but the stock was rolled thinner and the diameter of the coins increased to facilitate striking. For the most part, the Oak Tree series lacks the minting errors that are so frequently encountered with Willow Tree coins.
    The same year that production of the Oak Tree series is believed to have begun also marked the restoration of Charles II as king of England. The Massachusetts Mint, which had been operating with impunity during the Interregnum, soon came to the attention of the British crown. The first complaint against the Mint was filed early in 1661. At issue was not the legality of the Mint, but the weight of its coins: British shillings were authorized at 92.9 grains, while the Massachusetts shillings weighed only 72 grains. It appears, however, that the crown ignored the issue until 1665, when a group of commissioners appointed by Charles II wrote to the Massachusetts General Court that "coyning is a royall prerogative, for the usurping of which ye act of indemnity is only a salvo." The Mint, now clearly aware that it was operating illegally, continued to strike the Oak Tree series, and in 1667 the Mint's contract was renewed by the Massachusetts General Court.
    The reverse is perfectly centered, while the obverse, as on almost all Noe-5 specimens, is struck off-center at the bottom. A prominent die break at the top of the obverse indicates that this is a late die state example. The tree is softly struck as a result of the clashed obverse die, but all of the peripheral letters, as well as the date and denomination, are sharply defined. Rings of sky-blue, gold, rose-red, and light green toning enhance the eye appeal. The surfaces are nearly pristine, with no marks of any significance. This piece is certain to become the highlight of an important collection of Colonial coins. Listed on page 37 of the 2011 Guide Book.
    Ex: George H. Earle Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 1921; F.C.C. Boyd; John J. Ford, Jr. (Stack's, 10/2005), lot 24.
    From Dwight Manley's NE Silver Collection. (NGC ID# 2ARN, PCGS# 20)

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

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    Auction Dates
    August, 2010
    11th-15th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
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