1783 Chalmers Threepence, Sharply Struck MS63
1783 3PENCE Chalmers Threepence MS63 PCGS. CAC. Ex:
Eliasberg. Breen-1018. The famous John Chalmers' threepence has
clasped hands on the obverse, with the legend I CHALMERS ANNAP'S
around. The reverse has a floral spray with a ring of three-leaf
clusters and the legend 1783 THREE PENCE around.
The Eliasberg Specimen, The Finest Known
John Chalmers, a Maryland silversmith, produced small silver threepence, sixpence, and shillings, clearly intended to serve the needs of the local economy in Annapolis at a time when the public was leery of accepting the Spanish cut coins otherwise known as bits. Chalmers threepence are rarer than the shillings, although not as rare as the sixpence. Most survivors are extensively worn, indicating that they saw extensive contemporary circulation.
In the Eliasberg catalog, Dave Bowers noted the writing of Dr. John David Schopf, who visited from Germany. Quoting Bowers: "It was customary at the time to cut a Spanish silver dollar into halves, quarters, and eighths, with the eighths being known as 'one bit' or 12-1/2 cents. Unscrupulous persons would attempt to cut five 'quarters' or nine or ten 'eighths' out of one coin, thereby realizing a proportional profit. Schopf reported that Chalmers redeemed various fractional parts and exchanged his own coins for them, charging a commission to do so."
The Eliasberg specimen is an outstanding Mint State piece, easily in the Condition Census for the denomination. It is arguably the finest known example, as none appeared in the Ford sales. The fields are fully lustrous beneath attractive lilac, blue, and gold toning. The quality is such that all of the intricate die work, including the engraving and fine die finishing lines are fully visible.
Ex: Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. (Bowers and Merena, 5/1996), lot 47; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2009), lot 3556, where it brought $70,000.. (NGC ID# 2AUP, PCGS# 592)
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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