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    1714 W-8180 Gloucester Token, VF25
    The Finer of Two Known
    Ex: Parmelee; Garrett; Roper
    Crosby Plate Coin

    1714 Gloucester Courthouse Shilling, VF25 NGC. Breen-237, W-8180, R.8. Brass, 61.6 grains. Most collectors and dealers have never seen or held a Gloucester token, sometimes called a shilling. There are just two known, and this example has remained in the Donald G. Partrick Collection since 1983. The Garrett-Roper-Partrick specimen is the first example that this cataloger has personally handled. This is an incredible opportunity for the advanced colonial collector to obtain a piece that can rightfully be called the rarest of the rare.

    A light-yellow brass example, this piece shows an uneven strike with a wide lower obverse and reverse margin. The upper obverse and reverse are weakly defined, and the legends are incomplete. Peripheral file marks are similar in appearance to adjustment marks and may be just that. Despite extensive wear, the overall appearance of this piece is outstanding, and its rarity cannot be denied.

    The Crosby Study

    Sylvester S. Crosby, in The Early Coins of America, related what little was known of the Gloucester token under his subtitle of "American Tokens" (page 323), based on his study of the two examples known to him. This example is illustrated on Plate IX of his groundbreaking study on colonial coinage:

    "Of the history of the earliest of these, called the Gloucester Token, nothing is known. It appears to have been intended as a pattern for a shilling of a private coinage, by Richard Dawson of Gloucester [county] Virginia. It is probable that no tokens of this intended issue were actually put in circulation, as we find no specimen in silver. But two specimens are known, both struck in brass. A full description cannot be given of it, as both impressions are very imperfect, and together they do not supply the entire legends with certainty. ...

    "The house upon this token may have been designed to represent a warehouse, but it is of a style corresponding more closely to that of some of the public buildings of olden times. Possibly it may have represented the court house of Gloucester county, and the legend, should any specimen fortunately be discovered to supply the missing portions, may prove to be, GLOVESTER . CO . HOUSE . VIRGINIA . in accordance with the favorite method (still continued) of naming settlements in the Southern States, where many an insignificant hamlet is dignified by the appellation of 'Court House,' or 'County House.'"

    The misidentification of Richard Dawson appeared a few years earlier in the William Strobridge catalog of the Clay Collection, and originated with a memorandum from J.N.T. Levick, obtained from Joseph Mickley.


    Although neither of the two examples known shows complete legends, they can be nearly completely reconstructed by a comparison of both examples (or of images thereof). The obverse depicts a simple rectangular structure with chimneys at both ends, and XII below. Around the obverse is the legend, GLOVCESTER COVRTHOVSE VIRGINIA. The central reverse motif is a simple five-pointed star, with the legend, ANNO DOM 1714 RIGHAVLT DAWSON. Some scholars have reasonably speculated that the building is the courthouse, and the XII represents the one shilling denomination. However, there is no contemporary evidence to support that speculation.

    Righault and Dawson

    Prior to 1981, the inscription was believed to mention a single person, Richard Dawson. However, the appearance of the second known example showed the correct inscription of Righavlt and Dawson. In his Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, Walter Breen identified the individuals as Christopher Righault and Samuel Dawson. Neither surname is found in Gloucester County at or The Notre Dame University numismatic website,, relates the following:

    "It is known that a Christopher Righault purchased land at Craney Creek near the Gloucester Courthouse in 1654 and obtained additional lands in 1668. It is suspected the Righault in the token legend is his relative, possibly a son. It is also known a Samuel Dawson was a landowner in the Abingdon Church section of Gloucester County, presumably this person or a relative is the Dawson mentioned in the legend."


    The roster of known specimens is confusing at best. Crosby knew of two examples, owned by George W. Cram and Lorin G. Parmelee. Apparently soon after the 1980 Garrett sale, those two pieces were compared side-by-side, and one was shown to be a cast copy of the other. Two examples were thought to be known prior to 1980, just one was known from 1980 to 1982, and two have been known since 1982.

    1. VF25. George W. Cram; Lorin G. Parmelee (New York Coin & Stamp Co., 1/1890), lot 512; James Ten Eyck (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922), lot 833; Waldo C. Newcomer; B. Max Mehl; John Work Garrett; Garrett Estate; Johns Hopkins University (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1980), lot 1318; Donald Kagin; John L. Roper (Stack's, 12/1983), lot 147; Donald G. Partrick. The present lot.

    2. Fine. Dresser Drawer Accumulation; Anonymous Gloucester Resident; Anonymous Gloucester Coin Collection; Bowers and Ruddy (4/1982), lot 1, which realized $3,575; Anthony Terranova; Long Island Specialist.

    3. A cast copy of number 1. Dr. Charles Clay (W.H. Strobridge, 12/1871), lot 289; W.E. Woodward; George Seavey; Lorin G. Parmelee; William Sumner Appleton; Massachusetts Historical Society; ANA Sale (Stack's, 8/1976), lot 89, which realized $35,000; John L. Roper, 2nd; proven to be a cast copy and returned to Stack's for a full refund; unidentified public research institution (per Michael Hodder in 1997).

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

    View all of [The Donald G. Partrick Collection ]

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2021
    20th-24th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 40
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