The Good Samaritan shilling has been a subject of mystery and active controversy for over two hundred years. The two varieties of this major rarity are attributed by some to the first mint in the American colonies and by others rejected as spurious fabrications, leaving a numismatic issue of primary importance unresolved. The facts from which a proper conclusion may be drawn have never been known, so that unsupported opinions and theories have predominated in all prior writing on the subject. Numismatic literature, including modern catalogues, have left the matter open for further research by admitting the existing uncertainty.
As to the economic and political history of the coinage of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay the Early Coins of America by Sylvester S. Crosby 1 still stands as accurate and comprehensive. As to the varieties of the silver coinage, their chronology and the operation of the mint, Sydney P. Noe's three monographs covering the New England, Willow, Oak and Pine Tree silver coinage are recognized as the authoritative work, 2 superseding the sections on them in Crosby.
Crosby unqualifiedly accepts one variety of the Good Samaritan shilling as genuine and although illustrating the other variety quotes the opinion of another and does not personally comment upon it. Noe on the other hand does not comment upon either of the controversial Good Samaritan shillings, having technically excluded them in the titles of his work. Noe only mentions Thomas Wyatt's reproduction of the Good Samaritan shilling and the illustrations from which it was copied. 3 Noe has therefore left an opening in his studies which this monograph is intended to fill.
As will be subsequently explained in detail, each of the two distinct varieties of the Good Samaritan shilling is unique. The first known piece was in the collection of Thomas Herber, eighth Earl of Pembroke, and is illustrated at the top of Plate I. It has the legend FAC SIMILE within the circle surrounding the scene of the Good Samaritan and will be referred to herein as the Pembroke shilling. The second specimen was in the collection of Charles I. Bushnell of New York City and is illustrated on Plate II. It does not contain any legend within the circle surrounding the scene of the Good Samaritan and will be referred to herein as the Bushnell shilling. The reproduction of the Good Samaritan shilling distributed by Thomas Wyatt will be referred to as the Wyatt copy and is illustrated on Plate IV.
It is fundamental to point out that there is no information whatsoever in the records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony concerning the Good Samaritan shilling. This was verified in 1857 when the diary of John Hull, mintmaster of the Boston mint, was published after a thorough search for all collateral material. 4
Diary of John Hull,American Antiquarian Society Transactions, Vol. III (1857), p. 306.
Thomas Herber (1656–1733), eighth earl of Pembroke, was an avid collector of Greek and Roman as well as English coins. The coins of the English colonies in America were included in the English part of his famous collection. During his lifetime, illustrations of each coin in this large collection were engraved on 308 copper plates by Niccolo Francisco Haym (1670–1730), a numismatist and bibliographer from Rome. Haym had previously prepared Del Tesoro Britannico (London, 1719–20) in which he stated that the Earl of Pembroke's collection "in the country" has not been engraved. This statement, no doubt, had its effect in encouraging the Earl thereafter to employ Haym to undertake the project. When the Earl died in 1733 the plates had not been published and his son, having no interest in numismatics, presented all of the plates to the Earl's valet. In 1746, prints from the plates were offered for sale for the benefit of the valet at 4 guineas per set. 5 There was no accompanying text. The publication had one title covering the Ancient coins 6 and another title covering English, Scottish and other coins. 7 There is some- times found at the end of the combined publication an index of the general content of the plates which index was prepared for private distribution by Joseph Ames, a celebrated antiquary. 8 This publication is generally known as the "Pembroke Plates" and has the distinction of being the first numismatic publication illustrating American coins.
The Pembroke collection was left with his bankers 9 and remained in safekeeping for over a century until it was sold at auction by Sotheby & Co. in London, from July 31 to August 12, 1848. The sale catalogue was prepared by Thomas Burgon, who was at that time recognized as an authority on Greek and Roman coins.
The following American colonial coins were in the collection, having been illustrated in the Pembroke collection plates and sold in the auction:
|1746 Catalogue 1848 Sale Part 4, Plate No.||1848 Sale Lot No.|
|Good Samaritan shilling||14||229|
|New England shilling||11||231|
|Pine Tree shilling||14||230|
|Oak Tree sixpence||14||230|
|Pine Tree threepence||14||230|
|Oak Tree twopence||14||230|
|Lord Baltimore sixpence||14||229|
|Lord Baltimore groat (holed)||14||229|
|Carolina Elephant Token (holed)||14||231|
|James II 1/24 real for the Plantations||21||231|
|St. Patrick farthing||20||210|
The Pembroke Good Samaritan shilling along with the two Lord Baltimore pieces were bought for 38 shillings by Cureton, a London coin dealer representing the British Museum where the coin now remains. For price comparison it can be noted that the New England shilling and the Carolina Elephant token together brought 32 shillings.
The illustration of the Good Samaritan shilling in the 1746 Pembroke plates is shown on Plate I herein.
The unusual features of the drawing are:
Each of these features is very important in light of subsequent considerations and can be explained by a comparison with the Pembroke shilling itself.
An examination of the Pembroke shilling (Plate I) in the British Museum collection shows that the coin is clearly a counterstamped genuine Massachusetts Pine Tree shilling. The die variety of the basic shilling (Plate I) is Noe 25 (Crosby 16–0), which is easily recognizable by a die break on the reverse from the top of the right upright of N in AN through the dot to the lower part of the upright of the D in DO. The basic coin shows extensive wear and smoothing so that only the letters shown in the Pembroke illustration are readable. The basic coin was filed or clipped while in circulation so that the circles of dots outside the circular legends are not visible. The smoothing of the surface was probably undertaken to make the overstriking clearer. The counterstamp being smaller than the coin left a circular line on the coin corresponding to the perimeter of the counterstamp. Outside this line the surface is higher than on the inside. This accounts for the drawing showing a linear inner circle inside the circular legend on the obverse and a dotted circle inside the circular legend on the reverse. When the shilling was counterstamped on the obverse it was laid on a flat hard surface resulting in the reverse being crushed. The die depression on the reverse of Noe 25 appearing as a dot below the right side of the X of XII was spread to such a large size that it was shown as an O in the drawing. The words FAC SIMILE are clearly a part of the counterstamp and were not separately added to the counterstamped coin.
Numismata Antiqua in tres partes divisa collegit olim et aeri incidi vivens curavit Thomas Pembrochiae et Montis Gomerici Comes Prelo demum mandabantur A.D. MDCCXLVI. (Ancient Coins divided into three parts which Thomas Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery collected in the past and preserved during his lifetime by copper engravings and which were previously ordered to the press, 1746).
Nummi Anglici et Scotici cum aliquot Numismatibus recentioribus collegit Thomas Pembrochiae et Montis Gomerici Comes. (English and Scottish Coins with other numismatic material collected by Thomas Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery).
Gentlemen's Magazine, Vol. 184 (Nov., 1848), p. 520.
It has never been pointed out that the legend, FAC SIMILE, could be a modification of the expression, FAC SIMILITER, as used at the conclusion of the Good Samaritan story in the Bible. In that familiar story as written in Chapter X of the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus relates that a traveller was robbed, stripped and wounded on a journey. Two others ignored the traveller as they passed him, but a Samaritan, who was riding by on a donkey did not pass, but dressed the traveller's wounds, put him on the donkey and took him to an inn where the Samaritan arranged to pay the expenses. Jesus then tells his listener, Go, and do thou likewise. The Latin (Vulgate) version of this advice is Vade et tu fac similiter. The words, fac similiter, translated into their simplest form mean Do likewise. If the word similiter were changed to simile, the expression would be translated literally as Do a similar thing or more liberally as Do a similar deed. The words, Fac Simile, therefore are equally applicable to the lesson to be learned from the Good Samaritan story. If therefore a reason could be found to justify a change in the motto from Fac similiter to Fac Simile the true meaning of Fac Simile would be evident. If a small die were being cut and only a small amount of lettering space was available then a reduction in the length of the motto without changing its meaning would have been logical and practical.
The derivation of the modern English word, facsimile, meaning an exact reproduction or copy, also came from the Latin words, Fac Simile, (Do a Similar thing or Make a Similar thing). Fac Simile was used in classical times as an expression meaning a reproduction or exact copy and by 1661 had become an English expression with the same meaning. 10 It was written as two words in the same manner as on the Pembroke specimen. In due course it became hyphenated and by the beginning of the nineteenth century began to be used as one word. 11
It is readily understandable how easily some numismatists could conclude that the words, FAC SIMILE, on the Pembroke shilling meant that it was a copy of a genuine coin and that the diemaker of the Pembroke shilling deliberately added FAC SIMILE to make certain that no one would confuse the reproduction with any genuine piece.
Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, edited by Walter W. Skeat (Oxford, 1910).
A New Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford, 1901).
Since a punch or die was used to produce the Good Samaritan scene on the Pembroke shilling, it is clear that no coinage die would have been cut to a size only sufficient to cover the area within the inner circle of a Pine Tree shilling. It would have been the full size of the coin for which it was intended, and would have had a further legend as to either the issuer, the date or the denomination. Thus the conclusion that the die was used for counterstamping rather than for coining is logical. The probability that such a counterstamp might have been prepared for some other use is justified, since no other coin is known to be so counterstamped. That use must have been prior to the death of Haym in 1730. Could that other use have had a connection with Massachusetts or with coinage? What was that use?
The first inquiry was to determine if the artist's conception of the scene of the Good Samaritan was similar to the style of any other artist. Rembrandt's painting and etching of the Good Samaritan, dated 1633, depicted the transfer of the wounded man from the donkey into the inn. William Hogarth's painting of the Good Samaritan, done in 1736 for St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, has the Good Samaritan and a dog on the left and in the background the two people who passed the injured traveller without helping him. The central portion of this picture was copied by John Johnson in 1797 for a signboard for the Boston Dispensary. 12 While this signboard has the injured traveller, the Good Samaritan, a donkey and a tree, as does the Pembroke shilling, their positions are completely at variance.
A seal for the Pennsylvania Hospital which was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1751 and is the oldest hospital in America, was cut by Christian Gobrecht (1787–1844) showing the injured traveller being removed from the donkey by the Good Samaritan and the innkeeper. It contains the biblical quotation "Take Care of Him and I will Repay Thee." 13
No painted prototype of the counterstamp has been found as yet.
In the index to Notes and Queries under "Mottoes" Miss Elizabeth Tindall, Research Librarian, at the Mercantile Library in St. Louis, found the words, Fac Similiter. While this differed from Fac Simile it was the first and only clue. The text to which it referred was an article entitled, "The Royal Society's 250th Anniversary,"
written by John Collins Francis in 1912. It indicated that the motto Fac Similiter and the Good Samaritan were adopted as the Seal of the Royal Society of London in 1664. A request to The Royal Society for a copy or impression of the seal brought an answer indicating that the only seal
of the Royal Society was a coat of arms with the motto NULLIUS IN VERBA which was adopted in 1663 and up to the present has
never been changed; that any seal containing the Good Samaritan and Fac Similiter had no connection with the Royal Society. The reference given by John Collins Francis was therefore checked and was found
to be an excerpt from the Diary of John Evelyn
for November and December, 1664 which, omitting irrelevant text, was as follows:
15: To Lond. We chose our Treasurer, Clearks, Messengers, appointed our seale, which I ordered should be the good Samaritan,
with this motto, fac similiter: 16: I went to our Society at Gr: Col-ledge. 17: We sate on Commission againe these two daies:
*** 22. To London: Painters hall in Lond: lent us to meete in: ***
23: Our Statutes (now finished) were read before a full assembly of the R: Society: ***
24. I dined with the Commissioners for Sick & Wounded, & sate at Painters hall: *** 29: To Lond: about our Commission, which
I received sign'd by all the Lords of the Council, together with our Instructions:
30: We met at the Ro. Society, and chose Officers according to our new establish'd Statu(t)es: ***
December 2. Sir William D'Oylie & myselfe delivered the Pr: Councils letters to the Governors of St. Thomas Hospital in Southwark,
that a mo(ie)tie of the house should be reserved for such sick & wounded as should from time to time be sent from the Fleete,
during the War: This being dellivr(e)d at their Court, the President & severall Alderman Governors of that Hospital invited
us to a greate feast in Fishmongers hall: I return'd hom that Evening:
John Evelyn (1620–1706), art patron, politician, traveller, horticulturalist, arboriculturalist, commissioner of the Royal Mint, devotee of the English Church and advocate of increased availability of hospital care is best known, as is his contemporary, Samuel Pepys, as a diarist. Evelyn was involved in so many activities that it is not clear from the text quoted above what organization adopted the seal of the Good Samaritan. A modern restudy of Evelyn's diary 15 shows that The Commission of Sick and Wounded and Prisoners was being referred to, since that commission held meetings at Painter's Hall in London where the Royal Society also met. The choosing of officers and employees, the adoption of the seal and the reading of the statutes are now interpreted to refer to the activities of that Commission.
The Commission of Sick and Wounded and Prisoners was an outgrowth of the fighting between the English and the Dutch. During the last half of the seventeenth century England was in competition with Holland for the commerce and control of the East Indies, the West Indies, the West African coast and the American continent. England was also in a struggle with France and Spain for commercial power in the Western hemisphere. The first war with Holland from 1652 to 1654 consisted primarily of naval engagements and left the issues unresolved. In the course of that war a commission was set up in England to look after the sick and wounded sailors, but it could do little work because of lack of appropriated funds. Following a war with Spain (1656 to 1659) and the settlement in 1662 of a conflict with the Barbary Pirates, the English resumed the taking of Dutch prizes. On September 8, 1664, when the British navy forced a surrender of New Amsterdam they provoked the Second war with Holland. On October 28, 1664, when this war was imminent the Privy Council created The Commission of Sick and Wounded and Prisoners. Four commissioners including John Evelyn were informally appointed on October 30, 1664, and officially appointed on November 11, 1664. 16
The enthusiasm and ability of Evelyn to provide permanent medical facilities for the English navy resulted in the commission's continuing long after the discharge of the men who were engaged in the Second War with Holland. The Third War with Holland (1672–4) which resulted in the final transfer of New Amsterdam to the English and the war with France (1689–97), known as King William's War in America, provided new patients to be cared for and the activities of the Commission continued into the eighteenth century.
Many hospitals and infirmaries throughout the world have been named for the Good Samaritan. The selection of a seal for the commission consisting of the Good Samaritan and the motto FAC SIMILITER, as stated in the diary of John Evelyn for November 15, 1664, was therefore fitting and proper.
The seal of an official public organization would ordinarily be easy to locate, assuming that such a seal was made. The detailed
accounts retained by the British Public Records office contain the following entry in the Audit Office Account of the Commissioners
of the Sick and Wounded and Prisoners for the period from November 11, 1664 to March 25, 1668:
"Martin Johnson for graveing of seals—X li"
(Martin Johnson for engraving of seals—£10)
It is therefore established that one or more seals were actually made for the Commission close to the time when Evelyn's diary indicates authorization was given. To locate a seal from the identical die used to counterstamp the Pembroke shilling would be conclusive. If, however, a similar seal could be found which contained the scene of the Good Samaritan and the motto reworded as FAC SIMILE instead of what John Evelyn's diary stated, then the source of the counterstamp on the Pembroke shilling would nevertheless be solved, because more than one seal was made. Obviously the scene of the Good Samaritan would have to be generally similar.
The bulk of the documents relating to the Commission's activities during and following the Second Anglo-Dutch War have not been preserved. The few remaining were sought out in the Public Records Office, the British Museum, the Naval Museum at Greenwich, the Bodelian Library and various English hospitals. With one exception there were no seals impressed upon, printed on, or attached to any document which was located.
The one exception which was located by the British Public Records Office is dated July 19, 1698, and contained the printed
emblem or seal of the Commission adjacent to the following text:
These are to certify, That the Bearer John Adams belonging to His Majesty's Ship Third rate was sent to this place upon the
twenty second day of June, 1698 and not being cured by his own request was discharg'd hence this nineteenth day of July 1698
to go forthwith to his Ship. He has received in cloaths to the Value — and in Conductmoney —.
Witness my hand the 19th day of July, 1698
By Sam11 Evans
Appointed to take care of Sick and Hurt Seaman at Defford.
This document is illustrated on Plate III. Its seal or emblem consisted of the scene of the Good Samaritan and the motto FAC SIMILE: (See enlargement on Plate IV).
Not only is the motto FAC SIMILE used instead of FAC SIMILITER, but the juxtaposition of all elements in the scene corresponds with those on the Pembroke shilling. The forepart of the donkey is on the right side facing right; the tree is on the left side; the Good Samaritan is bandaging the left arm of the injured traveller who is sitting on the ground with his legs extended to the right. Of importance also is the fact that in the motto the two words are so close together as to appear as one word, FACSIMILE, indicating that the maker of the cut for the seal or emblem felt crowded in inserting the lettering and apparently shortened the last word of the motto from SIMILITER to SIMILE for that reason.
The differences between the printed seal and the Pembroke shilling counterstamp are minor. The printed seal is 13/16 inches in diameter whereas the counterstamp is about ¾ inches in diameter. The tree is larger and more elaborate in the counterstamp. The ground line is higher in the counterstamp. These differences are, however, variations which an engraver would normally make if he were cutting more than one of the same design.
The printed seal or emblem is on a printed form on which the final two figures of the date are filled in by hand. Whether this form was printed long before 1698 or whether the cut for the seal or emblem was in use on other forms prior thereto is not essential. Whether the cut for the emblem was one of the seals cut by Martin Johnson between 1664 and 1668 is also not of primary importance. The fact that the counterstamp is produced from an intaglio die and that the printed emblem was made from a positive die or line cut might indicate why payment to Martin Johnson covered more than one seal.
The inescapable conclusion is that the emblem and the counterstamp are those adopted by the Commission of the Sick and Wounded and Prisoners. The Pembroke shilling was therefore produced by counterstamping the Commission's seal on the obverse of a smoothed and worn Massachusetts Pine Tree shilling (Noe 25). This establishes the fact that FAC SIMILE on the Pembroke shilling is the motto of the Good Samaritan story and cannot be interpreted as meaning it was a reproduction.
When was this counterstamping done? The seal of the commission was adopted in 1664 and was probably made shortly thereafter. The small Pine Tree shilling on which the seal was counterstamped was coined toward the end of the Massachusetts mint operations, certainly after 1675. The coin was substantially worn during several years of circulation before being counterstamped. It was in the Pembroke collection before the death in 1730 of Haym, the engraver of the Pembroke illustrations. The counterstamping apparently took place between 1680 and 1725.
The counterstamping probably was done to produce something unusual for the Earl of Pembroke. If the person who fraudulently or jestingly used the Commission's seal had known of the problems he would create he might have restrained his impulse.
The Pembroke shilling is not the only American coin in the Pembroke collection which was artificial in part. The Pembroke specimen of the 1/24th real James II tin farthing for the Plantations was tampered with by having a small copper cross artificially imbedded in the center of the reverse. The cross is shown in its illustration by Haym and so described in the 1848 sale. This insertion was apparently made to simulate the copper plug in the center of the tin coinage of England under James II and others, as no other Plantation 1/24th real has a copper plug. 19
These were not the only instances where chicanery was practiced as forgeries of ancient coins were very numerous in the Pembroke collection.
Nina Fletcher Little, "The Good Samaritan," Antiques, Vol. LXX, No. 4 (Oct., 1956), p. 360 and Vol. LXXI, No. 2 (Feb., 1957), p. 149.
A. R. Frey, "Christian Gobrecht," The Numismatist, Vol. 24 (December, 1911), p. 418.
Diary of John Evelyn edited by Austin Dobson (London, 1906), p. 219.
Diary of John Evelyn, edited by E. S. DeBeer (Oxford, 1956), p. 390.
J. J. Shaw, "The Commission of Sick and Wounded and Prisoners, 1664–1667," Mariner's Mirror, Vol. 25 (1939), p. 306.
British Public Records Office, Audit Office: Declared Account Navy: Sick and Hurt: 11 November 1664–25 March 1668 (A.O. 1/1820/485).
British Public Records Office, ADM. 106/3540: Mariner's Folder.
Eric P. Newman, "First Documentary Evidence on the American Colonial Pewter 1/24th Real," The Numismatist, Vol. 68 (July, 1955), p. 713.
The earliest numismatic publications mentioning Massachusetts coinage are Ralph Thorsby's Ducatus Leodiensis, published in London in 1715, followed by Stephen Martin-Leake's An Historical Account of English Money published in 1726. Although the former suggested that the NE on the New England coinage might be an abbreviation for Newark under seige, the latter states that the Earl of Pembroke has classified them in his collection as New England coins. Pine Tree pieces are included in each book, but the Good Samaritan shilling is not mentioned by either writer.
The first bibliographical information on the Good Samaritan shilling is the illustration in the Pembroke plates as previously described.
The next publication to include the Good Samaritan shilling was prepared by Martin Folkes. Folkes, whose reputation as an antiquary was acknowledged by his presidency of the Royal Society from 1741 to 1752, published in 1745 under the auspices of the Society of Antiquaries, A Table of English Silver Coins. This table described Massachusetts and Maryland silver coinage, but did not include the Good Samaritan shilling. 20 It does introduce the non-existent 1652 twopence and Pine Tree penny which will be subsequently referred to.
Engraved plates illustrating the coins so described and some other pieces which came to his attention were then undertaken by Folkes, but were not entirely completed prior to his death in 1754. The Society of Antiquaries arranged for the completion of the first 42 plates which they acquired from his heirs and prepared an additional 26 plates along with an explanation of all the plates. The combined Tables, illustrations and explanation of the illustrations was published in 1763. 21 On Plate XXX which had been prepared by Folkes only the obverse of the Good Samaritan shilling appeared. Both sides of the other American and British coins were shown on Plate XXX. Since the text he wrote did not mention the Good Samaritan shilling and the reverse was omitted in the illustration it seems reasonable to assume that Folkes did not see the Pembroke shilling (the Pembroke collection being in safekeeping since 1733) and took his information from the Pembroke illustrations on their publication in 1746. The Folkes drawing of the obverse of the Pembroke shilling is shown on Plate II herein and differs from the Pembroke illustration by the complete legend MASATHVSETS·IN· being shown instead of the unreadable part of the legend being represented by large dots. There was no change in the motto, FAC SIMILE, over the scene of the Good Samaritan.
Thomas Snelling, a coin dealer, in 1769 published information on and illustrations of the coins of the American colonies. 22 He copied Folkes' drawing of the obverse of the Good Samaritan shilling and Haym's drawing of its reverse (Plate II) and said that the piece was in the Pembroke col- lection. In showing a non-existent Massachusetts twopence dated 1652, he followed the incorrect text of Folkes instead of the properly dated plate. He continued Folkes' representation of the non-existent 1652 Massachusetts penny. Fortunately, Snelling stated that he had never seen any of these three coins, therefore his misinformation on these items does not affect this study.
Rev. Rogers Ruding in 1817 borrowed the plates prepared by Folkes from The Society of Antiquaries and used them as part of his writing on English numismatics. In explaining his plates Ruding merely refers to prior publications as the source of his information on the Good Samaritan shilling. 23
Joseph B. Felt, in 1839, in writing the first American publication on Massachusetts numismatics included a plate of Massachusetts coins. The top part of the plate is entitled "Fac Similes of Pine Tree Money as described in Massachusetts Records" and under it he copied off the identical drawings of the Massachusetts shilling, sixpence, threepence and twopence as shown on the Folkes plate. Felt, in the lower part of the plate, under the heading, "Fac Similes of Massachusetts Money as contained in Folkes Tables of Coins," includes both the Good Samaritan shilling, the nonexistent 1652 penny and the New England shilling and sixpence. Again the Folkes plate detail is copied with one major exception. For the first time the Good Samaritan shilling was illustrated without the words FAC SIMILE on the coin (Plate II). Since Felt used the words, Fac Simile, as meaning reproduction in two instances on the plate in his book as above indicated and in one instance in the text it is clear that Felt thought the words, FAC SIMILE, on the Folkes plate meant reproduction and therefore eliminated the motto in copying the Folkes picture. 24 This blunder misled many numismatists and was compounded when Thomas Wyatt made forgeries of the Good Samaritan shilling based upon Felt's drawings, as will hereafter be noted.
When the auction of the Pembroke collection took place in 1848 the Pembroke shilling was described in the sale catalogue as
part of lot 229 as follows:
Massachusets Shilling, much rubbed, but shewing on both sides the remains of the types and legends. By the dexterous use of a punch, some
artist has contrived to produce on this rubbed coin, a worn representation of the group of the good Samaritan, and the words
FAC. SIMILE., which has given rise to much discussion. See Rud. xxx, 10 and note m. page 368, vol. iii, Pemb. p. 41.14. unique.
wt. 69 8/10 grs.
This description was in no way questioned at the time of the sale, but the curiosity as to the source and status of the coin
were natural topics for numismatic argument.
John Hickcox, the first writer on Massachusetts coinage after the Pembroke sale, corroborates Burgon's statement that the coin was counterstamped when he stated:
In Earl Pembroke's celebrated collection was a coin having on the obverse, MASSACHVSETS IN., group of the Good Samaritan;
above, FAC SIMILE; reverse, the same as on the shilling. It was ascertained after the death of the earl that the coin was
spurious, having been altered from a pine tree shilling, by smoothing one side and stamping thereon the group above described.
The text of Hickcox with respect to the Pembroke shilling is sound, even though the spelling of the obverse legend is slightly inaccurate and the determination of spuriousness was over a century after the death of the earl.
Montroville W. Dickeson endeavored to describe the Pembroke shilling and in preparing his illustration followed the
Dickeson was so confused by the variation between the Ruding and Snelling drawings that he concluded that there were two specimens
of the Good Samaritan shilling, one with a smooth reverse and one with the reverse shown in Snelling. Dickeson does however
indicate the intense interest in the subject when he stated:
"We have given a description of this coin in all its details, because it has been the subject of so much attraction, and,
also, because it occupies a place in a very celebrated collection."
The various early numismatic publications stimulated a search by English collectors for the Good Samaritan shilling and other
rare Massachusetts silver coins which were described or illustrated. Thomas Hollis (1720–1774), an English numismatist and antiquarian, was
active in acquiring American Colonial coins and obtained for his collection Somers Island, Lord Baltimore and Massachusetts pieces.
He was a benefactor of Harvard University and was in constant correspondence with Reverend Andrew Eliot of Boston who was a member of the Harvard corporation. In 1767, Hollis apparently wrote Eliot for a Good Samaritan shilling, a New England sixpence, a Pine Tree penny and other items he had seen illustrated. Although this letter has not been located it is confirmed
by subsequent correspondence.
On December 18, 1767 Hollis followed up his request by writing:
Pray forgive the Liberty & Trouble of the Commission concerning the
coins, we Antiquaries are a quiet odd sort of People, ***
To which Eliot replied on April 18, 1768:
I received your commission concerning the New England coin, with the greatest pleasure, but am greatly disappointed in the execution of it. I can find no one who hath ever heard
of Massachusetts in pourtraiture of the good Samaritan. I believe it must have been a medal struck on some particular occasion. The sixpence
and the penny, some tell me they have seen; but I cannot at present procure them. If they are in New England, I shall have them.
I have also all other New England coin; they are all scarce except the pine-tree shillings and sixpences, which are plenty. I have several two-pence and three-pence,
very well preserved. I have no use for any of these; if they will be agreeable to you, or your friends, they are entirely
at your service.
On June 12, 1771, Eliot sent Hollis a New England sixpence and remarked that it was the only one he ever saw.
It can be seen from the foregoing that in 1768 the Good Samaritan shilling was unheard of by a member of the Massachusetts clergy who would have been very interested in its religious significance and by an educator who asked without success those most likely to have known about it.
P. 98. The New England shilling and sixpence; the Lord Baltimore shilling, sixpence and groat; and Massachusetts shilling, sixpence, threepence, twopence and penny of 1652 are mentioned. The twopence dated 1652 was an error as his subsequently prepared plates show the date as 1662. The penny was an erroneous assumption.
"Miscellaneous Views of the Coins Struck by the English Princes in France, Counterfeit Sterlings, Coins struck by the East India Company, Those in the West India Colonies And in the Isle of Man ***," (London, 1769), p. 36 and Plate 4; republished as part of Snelling on the Coins of Great Britain, France and Ireland (London, 1823).
Annals of the Coinage of Great Britain (London, 1817) and subsequent editions, p. vii.
An Historical Account of American Coinage (Albany, 1858), p. 11 note.
The American Numismatic Manual (Philadelphia, 1859), p. 63 and Plate VI, Fig. 12.
Archdeacon Francis Blackburn, Memoirs of Thomas Hollis (London, 1780), pp. 397, 829, 830.
Charles I. Bushnell, of New York, in assembling his enormous collection of American coins purchased his Good Samaritan shilling early in 1859 from Charles Richard Taylor, a London coin dealer, for £8/8. The Bushnell shilling (Plate II) was previously unknown to the numismatic world. Taylor's original letters in connection with its sale to Bushnell, although not published until 1883 are as follows: 29
I wrote to you on the 27th May last, to inform you that I had a shilling and sixpence of Lord Baltimore, being desirous, according to my promise, of giving you the first offer of anything likely to suit you, and, awaiting your reply, I have retained them accordingly: with the same view, I have now to offer you what I conceive will interest you far more; it is nothing less than a unique variety of the Good Samaritan Massachusetts shilling. It differs materially from the one formerly in the Pembroke collection and from the other engraved in Ruding, Pl. 30, No. 10, the existence of which is now very doubtful. Ruding incorporated the plates, so far as they would go, which were engraved for the previous works of Martin Folkes, and he expressly says that he knows not on what authority it has been given. Snelling, describing the piece, says: "It is said to be in the Pembroke collection" (which was a truth); he had evidently not seen it, but, curiously enough, he copied the obverse from Folkes' plate (Ruding's) and the reverse from the Pembroke plate, thus giving a representation of a coin for which there was certainly no authority whatever, the obverse differing from the only known (Pembroke) specimen in reading "In Masachusets" in full, instead of Mas with dots in place of the remainder, and from the doubtfully existing coin of Ruding by having, instead of a blank, the reverse of that in the Pembroke.
My coin is not only unique but the most perfect. It has a well-executed representation of the Good Samaritan, and reading in full "In Masachusets"; but the subject is allowed to speak for itself, as the direction Fac-simile is omitted; the reverse also has an important difference, reading "In New England Ano" round the edge, and in the centre 1652–XII, without the O beneath. It is 5 grains heavier than the Pembroke one and is a perfectly genuine struck coin, the reverse die evidently in the act of breaking from a flaw which, though in this instance it obscures no part of the coin, has an appearance which renders it probable that no others be afterwards struck from it. The style of the work and lettering corresponds exactly with the pine tree shilling of the same date. I am inclined to think, from the fact of the Pembroke specimen being so imperfect in the inscription, and from mine being more complete in that respect, as well as their extreme rarity, that they were pattern or trial pieces, and for some reason not adopted by the authorities.
I notice that, in a former letter, you gave as a reason for doubting the authenticity of the Pembroke specimen that no such piece was mentioned in the records of the State; but is it not questionable whether the records of a thinly peopled State were so perfectly and accurately kept? For you state likewise there is no mention of the two-pence and three-penny pieces, pine tree coinage, but the number now known, quality and weight of silver, style of work, and relative degrees of wear, all tend to prove them to have been as authentic, and in circulation, as were the sixpences and shillings.
The catalogue describes the Pembroke specimen to have been much rubbed; mine is not so, but has been somewhat unevenly struck, the five last letters in "Masachusets" not having come up so prominently as the others.
I purchased this piece with some rare English coins, which has occasioned my incurring an unexpected outlay which I am anxious to realize with as little delay as possible, and I offer you this rarity at £8.8.0. There is no doubt but that, at the present time, I could get much more for it, without any great difficulty, but I could not part with it until I had made you the first offer and at as reasonable a rate as I could afford. I have some intention of sending a notice of it to the "Numismatic Chronicle"; but this I would not do without consulting you in the event of your becoming its owner. I beg to assure you that you are the first person to whom I have yet intimated the existence of this piece, and as I shall preserve silence until you have had an opportunity of replying, I hope to be favored with your decision per return.
CHARLES RICH. TAYLOR.
S. H. and H. Chapman, Supplement to the Bushnell Catalogue (Philadelphia), second page, numbered p. 138.
In reply to yours of the 30th ulto. I do myself the pleasure to send for your inspection the "Good Samaritan Shilling."
I can certainly vouch for its being none of Mr. Wyatt's production; for not only is it very different, on the one side, to the rubbing you sent me of his Pine Tree Shilling, with which I have compared it, but I was told of its existence when your earliest letters first put me on enquiring for all pieces relating to America, but as it seemed hopeless to procure it, I paid little attention to the circumstance.
I am not going to recapitulate the contents of my last, but I must trouble you to say that I am by no means satisfied that the unique specimen in the Pembroke collection either was or could be in any way spurious, neither can I attach the least importance to the note to the lot describing it in the sale catalogue of that collection of 1848. That catalogue was drawn up by the late Mr. Burgon expressly on account of his being most justly considered the most competent authority on Greek and Roman Coins, to which he had exclusively directed his studies, thinking those classes alone worthy attention or appreciation.
It is also necessary to bear in mind some particulars relating to the Pembroke collection to which the newspaper extracts you sent me make no allusion. The Earl Thomas, by whom that celebrated collection was formed, succeeded to the title so early as 1683, and died in 1733. The fourth volume of Plates issued in his name was not completed and published until 1746, by his son and successor. The collection, however, remained intact until its dispersion by the present Earl in 1848, under the superintendence of his half brother, Mr. Sydney Herbert, the Earl being a constant resident abroad, which may probably account for the collection being wholly unknown, except through the volume of 1746; indeed, it seems seldom, if ever, to have been exhibited since the decease of the original collector, for Snelling when publishing his work, had no access to it, but obtained all his information from the Plates; and, in fact, when he speaks of coins said to be existing in the Pembroke collection, acknowledges that he had no opportunity of judging for himself in the matter. I cannot, at this moment, discover the date of the birth of the Earl Thomas, but as he succeeded to his brother in 1683, and his father had died so early as 1669, the last, at the least, must have been living at the date of this coin or pattern.
I am, to a considerable extent, justified in regarding it as genuine, in the absence of anything like proofs to the contrary, as there could be no motive or interest to be gratified by fabricating a spurious piece relative to a distant possession of so very recent date as was 1652, at the time when the collection was formed.
Ruding's plate 30, first published by Folkes in 1763, is not copied from the Pembroke plate; it is altogether different, and although the specimen it purports to represent may not be now known, I cannot think that any one will venture the supposition that so eminent a gentleman and antiquary as was Sir Martin Folkes could have published such without having sufficient authority for so doing. Snelling's engraving goes for nothing, as he had seen no specimen, but finding such good authority for the existence of the piece, he could not but notice it without damage to the completeness of his work, and therefore copied the obverse from Folkes, and the reverse from Pembroke. Now comes the specimen sent herewith, differing from the Pembroke, and five grains heavier, from Folkes and also from Wyatt's even. I am quite at a loss to conceive what the inducement could be for fabricating a piece of such little interest and value; for certainly until very recently it could possess neither; yet before the least attention could be attracted to its existence, here are evidently two pieces struck from dies altogether different,—the Pembroke and mine, to say nothing of Folkes. It could never answer to coin spurious specimens in such small quantities, as that, after the lapse of two centuries only two specimens alone should be known, and both of these unique varieties.
I am still in the belief that they were pattern pieces, struck and submitted when the issue of a coinage was first contemplated in the Colony, and this supposition will alone account for the unfinished character and rarity of these pieces, and, since they were not adopted, for the absence of any mention of them in the records. (It will be seen that the date side of the Pine Tree Shillings is different and more complete than in the corresponding side of either of the pieces in question.)
The die from which mine is struck was evidently soon broken; probably no other could have been struck from it, hence the necessity for a new one being made, even for the limited service of a pattern piece. It must be remembered that it was particularly the custom to strike pattern pieces,—witness those for the entire sets of silver for the Commonwealth coinage by Ramage and by Blondeau, the former the most beautiful, and while the design of the latter was adopted, he could hardly have been employed, as those struck for circulation were not milled, and are of much coarser workmanship. Now all these patterns were struck in 1651, and now are much in request, and always produce very high prices.
I respectfully submit these observations for your consideration, and you will take them for what they may seem to you to be worth. I am satisfied this piece is of no recent make, and what I offer in defense of its genuineness is not with any view for you to retain the piece against your judgment. I am anxious only that you should be convinced that I submit it to you in perfect good faith according to my own convictions, and that I should not trouble you at this length, or indeed had anything to do with it at all unless I felt myself free from any reasonable doubt in regard to it. ***
CHARLES RICH. TAYLOR.
It is interesting to note from the foregoing letters that Taylor unequivocably contradicts Burgon's assertion in the Pembroke Sale Catalogue that the scene of the Good Samaritan was counterstamped on the Pembroke shilling. The fact that Burgon was an authority on Greek and Roman coins was not a basis to disqualify him from recognizing a counterstamped coin. Taylor's statement carries little weight because his home at 2 Montague St., Russell Square, from which the letters to Bushnell were written, was across the street from the British Museum which, as was well known, had owned the Pembroke shilling since 1848. In addition Bushnell had expressed doubt as to the authenticity of the Pembroke shilling as Taylor's July 9, 1858, letter indicates. To have failed to examine the Pembroke shilling under these circumstances is indicative of the unreliability of Charles Richard Taylor.
Bushnell's copy of the Pembroke Sale Catalogue of 1848 in the library of the American Numismatic Society contains on the front
flyleaf Bushnell's handwritten comment on Burgon's opinion of the Pembroke specimen, as follows:
He knew nothing whatever of American coins. His remarks on the Good Samaritan piece I consider of no account whatever.
Bushnell showed his collection to very few and was secretive about his acquisitions. It is therefore understandable that there is no numismatic literature on the Bushnell shilling for over a decade following his purchase of it, except Dickeson's confused comment.
It remains for us to mention one other piece belonging to this series, the genuineness of which has been doubted. We refer to the Good Samaritan shilling, whose claim to a place among the issues of this mint we consider as being fully established by the specimen in the collection of Charles I. Bushnell, Esq., of New York.
Crosby then quotes Bushnell's interesting and extensive argument in favor of the genuineness of both the Bushnell and Pembroke
shillings. This was the identical reasoning used by Taylor in his letters to Bushnell and indicated that Bushnell accepted
its correctness. Crosby reconfirms his confidence in the Bushnell shilling by adding after the Bushnell's argument:
We can only add to the foregoing statement that, having examined the Good Samaritan shilling, we can with confidence say that
the piece is of a character agreeing with other coins of that period and bears no evidence of having been tampered with, but,
on the contrary, was evidently struck from dies. A certain proof that it could have been no alteration from the common issues
of that date is found in the legend upon the reverse, it being IN NEW ENGLAND · ANO:, which is found upon none of the Oak
or Pine Tree Shillings.
Crosby illustrates both the Bushnell shilling and the Pembroke shilling, the latter having been copied from Snelling's illustration. It is important to note that Crosby does not comment personally on the Pembroke shilling, and does not list FAC SIMILE in his index of mottoes. Apparently Crosby, too, did not realize that this legend might be the motto of the scene of the Good Samaritan.
When Bushnell died in 1880 many dealers attempted to buy his collection. At that time Samuel Hudson Chapman and Henry Chapman, Jr. were respectively 23 and 21 years old and had some limited experience in the coin business with John W. Haseltine in Philadelphia. These brothers secured the right to catalogue and auction the entire Bushnell collection. 31 The catalogue for the sale in New York beginning June 20, 1882, contains the following description of the Bushnell shilling (Lot 145):
1652. Shilling. A very good representation of the Good Samaritan attending a man by the roadside, his horse and a tree in the background. masachvsets .... in: Rev. 1652 xii. within a circle of dots, in new England · ano: The die very much cracked on reverse, rendering it impossible to strike any more after this one, and it is very likely that only one impression was struck. A genuine struck coin. This celebrated piece has been known to be unique for over two hundred years, and is one of the greatest gems of this collection. It was highly prized by Mr. Bushnell, who considered it, the N.Y. doubloon and Lord Baltimore penny his most important pieces, valuing it at more than $1,000, and we consider it worth any amount that can be paid for it. Extremely fine. See plate. Unique. There was in the Pembroke collection (formed about 1683, and sold at auction in London in 1848) a Good Samaritan shilling, differing from this in many respects, and had the word "fac simile" in the field. Our opinion is that this piece was a fabrication, engraved as a copy from probably the genuine, and very likely the present piece, and to prevent it ever passing as genuine the maker placed the word fac-simile in the field. The piece figured in Pembroke, Snelling, and Ruding is the same fabrication.
Mr. Bushnell told us that he imported this piece himself direct from England, and that there was not any doubt of its genuineness, a fact borne out in every way by the coin.
Mr. Bushnell would not permit Mr. Crosby to have this piece to place on his plates, but had an engraving made of it, which is represented on page 68, fig. 22, of Mr. Crosby's work.
The avalanche of criticism of the sale catalogue by jealous and disappointed competitors was led by Edouard Frossard who immediately pointed out that the Bushnell collection was inferior to the Mickley collection and that the sale catalogue failed to cite authorities or use good English. He points out that the pretension of the compilers that the catalogue would be a sequel to Crosby was "ridiculous." The description of the Good Samaritan shilling is cited as an ex- ample of one of the "inextricable tangles" of the English language and quite "original in construction." 32
Scott's Coin Collector's Journal of August, 1882, criticized "bunched lots and unfortunate mistakes" and then stated that the Bushnell shilling was "in our opinion and that of a large majority of experts an undoubted fabrication, and worth $10.00 at the outside."
Frossard listed all of his criticisms of each lot in the sale in detail and commented as to the Good Samaritan piece with
more emotion than thought:
145. Bogus and modern; why did not Bushnell say whence he obtained the piece? If from England some one must have sold it to him; but the piece is known to be a fraud from the fact that the man who bought hub No. 2844
said that he bought the hub because he had the piece.
Frossard's comment is readily shown to be wrong. In the sale catalogue there was another item relating to the Good Samaritan.
It was Lot 2844, described as "Hub. Scene of the Good Samaritan 30" and sold for $1.40 indicating it was of no relationship
to the Good Samaritan shilling (Lot 145) or to Wyatt's copies of the Good Samaritan shilling and other Massachusetts silver (Lot 1140). The sale catalogue pointed out in the introduction that all hubs were steel unless otherwise described
and that the sizes of hubs and dies were given in sixteenths of an inch. This would make Bushnell's Good Samaritan hub 1⅞
inches in diameter. A tin impression from this hub struck on a size 34 (2⅛") planchet had appeared as Lot 1012 in the Mercer
sale on December 8, 1880, and was listed under medals.
Frossard contends that "the man who bought No. 2844 said 'that he bought the hub because he had the piece.'" From this remark Frossard concludes that the Bushnell Good Samaritan "piece is known to be a fraud." This allega- tion is completely erroneous because the size of the Bushnell hub was many times larger than the size of the Bushnell shilling on which the device is ⅝ inches in diameter and the coin itself only 15/16 in diameter. Perhaps the purchaser of the hub was referring to a Wyatt copy of the Good Samaritan shilling which he owned? In any event Frossard's conclusion is erroneous on the basis of the argument presented because of the wide divergency in size between the hub and the Bushnell shilling.
Jeremiah Colburn writing before the sale took place commented:
As to the 'Good Samaritan' piece (145) which we suppose will probably bring a very 'fancy' price, we have always had grave
doubts about its genuineness.
The Bushnell shilling was the most notorious piece in the sale, being sold to Lorin G. Parmelee for $650.00, the highest price brought by any of the many rarities. While Parmelee's acquisition of it was indicative of his good opinion of the coin, it was inferred by Frossard that Parmelee had bought the entire collection before the auction and had an arrangement with the Chapmans so that instead of Parmelee withdrawing what he wanted before the sale he could bid on his own property at the auction without concern as to its sale price.
The attacks on the Bushnell shilling and upon the Chapman catalogue continued. W. Elliot Woodward in the catalogue of his
49th sale on July 11, 1882, stated:
For instance, the Good Samaritan Shilling (see Bushnell Catalogue, No. 145.) is sadly in want of a respectable pedigree: the
unsupported assertion that this piece is known to be unique for over two hundred years does not fill the bill. In Crosby's
work, Mr. Bushnell was allowed to meander through several pages, talking of the Pembroke Collection; of what Folkes, Ruding
and Snelling said and did; and he finally begs the question, by declaring that no motive at the remote
period which he assigns to the coin could have existed for its manufacture. Mr. Bushnell had it in his power to state at least
where he obtained the piece and its history so far as known; of all this he says not one word, and the piece stands to-day
without a single fact in support of its authenticity. Instead of its having been known to be unique for two hundred years,
I challenge any person and every person who has any interest in it to prove that it has been in existence for even forty years,
and I have no doubt if its secret history could be given, that the fact would appear that it was made within that period,
and probably made in New York.
Even the claim set up for it, that it resembles the work of the period is not fair, for there is no evidence that at that
time any person in America was able to execute such a group as appears on the coin. The claim of authenticity in behalf of this piece is of much less
weight than the argument that can be made in favor of the genuineness of the 1650 shillings. ***
There are many other pieces in this celebrated collection around which a veil of mystery has long been thrown, which, if they
could be illuminated by the light of truth, would have their lofty pretensions sadly lowered—notwithstanding "Our opinion," which throughout the catalogue is apparently regarded by the young gentlemen who compiled it, as amply sufficient to settle
any mooted question in American numismatics.
At the time of the Bushnell sale, many must have agreed with the Chapmans' statement in the catalogue that the Bushnell shilling
was genuine and that the Pembroke shilling was a copy of it. It was stated in the Magazine of American History:
A Good Samaritan shilling was sold in the English Lord Pembroke collection, formed about two hundred years ago, differing
from this in some respects, and having the words FAC-SIMILE stamped upon it, and it is supposed that Mr. Bushnell's was the
original after which the latter was copied.
Many wanted further information as indicated from the following, but continued their sarcastic attack on the Chapmans:
The celebrated Good Samaritan Shilling sold for $650; we have only to say further concerning it, that one of our editors saw
it at the sale, and has no doubt that it was a ficticious piece, and was not struck in New England in the Seventeenth Century. If the Shilling was really imported from Europe, and not made in New York, its history should be easy to trace; this not even Mr. Bushnell ever pretended to do.
Another good idea will be the publication by our learned contemporaries, the Chapmans, of correspondence to prove, beyond
the shadow of doubt, the genuineness of that singular nondescript the 'Good Samaritan Shilling' of the Bushnell sale. By all
means, let it be done, but in intelligible English, if possible.
In March, 1883, the Chapmans promised to publish the correspondence between Bushnell and the gentleman from whom the coin was purchased, 37 and accordingly the "Supplement to the Bushnell Catalogue" was published. The Chapmans published the text of the Taylor letters heretofore quoted and reiterated their confidence in the Bushnell shilling. They realized Taylor's error in authenticating the Pembroke shilling and obtained the opinion of William Webster, a coin dealer of London, who stated, "I know well the piece that was in the Pembroke sale, Lot 229, as I was present at the sale, and the general opinion (including my own) was then as now, that it was a forgery and undoubtedly a 'made up' coin."
They then introduced in confused English their understanding of what FAC SIMILE means by concluding that they do not see how the Pembroke shilling "can be considered as anything but what is stated on its face by the maker,—a fac-simile; that the word fac-simile was intended to merely convey the idea of its being a copy of the scene of the Good Samaritan seems to us to be a misconception; for the word fac-simile is not used with this meaning." The use of the expression FAC SIMILE meant to them that the Pembroke shilling was a copy of a coin (i.e., the Bushnell shilling) rather than meaning that it was a copy of some other portrayal of the Good. Samaritan Story.
It was emphasized that Taylor wrote that he was told of the existence of the coin when Bushnell's first letters encouraged Taylor to seek pieces relating to America. When Bushnell first wrote is not stated but since he began to collect coins about 1850 his inquiry must have been after that date. The first knowledge of the Bushnell shilling was therefore advanced at best only a few years prior to 1858.
The final argument was that Bushnell, Crosby and Par-malee all agreed as to the genuineness of the Bushnell shilling.
The information in the Supplement did not change anyone's opinion, 38 but merely showed that the coin had no known pedigree.
The most important factor in assessing the value of the many challenges of the validity of the Bushnell shilling is that no attempt was made to show facts. Admittedly it is difficult to prove that an existing coin is a forgery of a nonexisting coin. The proof of such a negative theory requires much more evidence than proving a positive theory. No one mentioned the possible use of FAC SIMILE as a motto; no one pointed out any of the peculiarities of the Bushnell shilling. Because of the apparent lack of pedigree of the coin and the fact that Bushnell had no supporting historical evidence other than Taylor's letters the burden of proof to show validity was assumed to be on the Chapmans. The attempted degradation of the Chapmans as new competitors was stimulating much of the attack. The lack of pedigree per se is no proof of spuriousness nor is the lack of historical background a condemnation.
Edouard Frossard, "The Bushnell Sale," Numisma, Vol. 6, No. 3 (May, 1882).
American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. XVII, No. 1 (July, 1882), p. 20.
The Magazine of American History, Vol. VIII, No. 9 (Sept., 1882), p. 635.
American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. XVII, No. 2 (Oct., 1882), p. 44.
Numisma, Vol. 7, No. 2 (March, 1883).
American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. XVIII, No. 1 (July, 1883), p. 20.
See: Numisma (Nov., 1883) Vol. 7, No. 6; American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. XVIII, No. 2 (Oct., 1883), p. 48; No. 3 (Jan., 1884), p. 72; W. E. Woodward, Sale of the Heman Ely Collection, Jan. 8, 1884, p. 50.
Subsequent literature has made no attempt to clarify the issues concerning the Good Samaritan Shilling. The Illustrated History of the United States Mint published in 1885 stated that there are two unique varieties of the Good Samaritan Shilling and that they are supposed to be pattern pieces struck at the origin of the Massachusetts mint. Instead of illustrating one of the varieties mentioned, a picture of the muling of the Wyatt counterfeit of the Good Samaritan Shilling and of the Oak Tree shilling is shown. 39
Edgar H. Adams, writing for The Elder Monthly of April, 1907, places the Good Samaritan shilling as the tenth rarest American coin.
The Standard Catalogue of United States Coins, since its inception in 1935, has included the Bushnell Shilling but now describes the coin as the "authentic" shilling. A Guidebook of United States Coins, since its beginning in 1946, has listed and illustrated the Bushnell shilling indicating that it is supposed to be a pattern.
Carl Wurtzbach, who contributed much research to the subject of Massachusetts silver, wrote in 1943 concerning the Good Samaritan Shilling, 40 "It is by some thought a pattern, for patterns were common in England in the 17th Century. This is not the place and time however, for a thorough discussion of the problems (including that of authenticity) raised by these extremely rare pieces."
In a series of articles published in 1944, entitled "Coins of Colonial America" it is stated that the history of the Good Samaritan Shilling is obscure and that while some consider it a genuine pattern others consider it a mutilation of a Pine Tree shilling. 41 Again the issue was avoided.
In the meanwhile the Bushnell shilling has continued along on its exciting career. When the famous Lorin G. Parmalee collection was sold at auction on June 25,1890, David Proskey as cataloguer of the collection described the Bushnell Shilling (Lot 326) as genuine and illustrated it. Hillyer Ryder was the successful bidder at $210 indicating his confidence in the coin.
In 1914, the American Numismatic Society held an Exhibition at which virtually all American Colonial rarities were assembled and Hillyer Ryder loaned the Bushnell Shilling for that purpose. 42 After Ryder's death in 1918, Thomas L. Elder in writing about the coin accepted it as genuine and noted that it was still in the Ryder family's possession in 1941. 43 Shortly thereafter the Bushnell Shilling was acquired by F. C. C. Boyd, who, by adding the Wurtzbach-Clarke collection to his other pieces, formed the most nearly complete cabinet of Massachusetts silver ever assembled.
Carl Wurtzbach, "On the Massachusetts Silver Colonial Coinage," Numismatic Review, Vol. I, No. 1 (June, 1943), p. 12. See also: Vol. I, No. 2, p. 44.
Phares O. Sigler, Coin Collector's Journal, Vol. 11, No. 5 (Sept.–Oct., 1944), p. 119.
Thomas L. Elder, "Recollections of an Old Collector," Hobbies Magazine, Vol. 46 (March, 1941), p. 94; (Aug., 1941), p. 86.
Early Coins of America, p. 67.
John J. Ford, Jr., "Numismatica Americana, The Bushnell Sale," The Coin Collector's Journal, Vol. 18, No. 2 (March–April, 1951), p. 35.
The Bushnell shilling (Plate II) weighs 74.1 grains which conforms to the normal weight of other Massachusetts shillings. Neither of the dies are found on any other coin. The reverse die breaks on the coin are so extensive as to indicate that the reverse die shattered during that striking and was no longer usable.
While the die cutting of the Bushnell shilling may be slightly superior to the cruder cutting of dies from which other Massachusetts silver are struck, one would expect such superiority in a pattern or in dies prepared by a more skillful diecutter.
The Bushnell shilling has however a few very unusual characteristics which in the course of their explanation furnish the basis of determining its status. They are as follows:
1. The scene of the Good Samaritan on the obverse is surrounded by a linear circle instead of the dotted circle. On the reverse the denomination and date are surrounded by a dotted circle. There would be no reason for a pair of dies to have two dissimilar types of circle construction. All Willow, Oak and Pine Tree coinage have dotted circles on both sides. As has been shown the Pembroke shilling had a linear circle around the scene of the Good Samaritan caused by the impression of the outer edge of the counterstamp and not as part of the design. The reverse of the Pembroke shilling being the normal Pine Tree type had a dotted circle. Since the Pembroke plates properly show a linear circle on the obverse and a dotted circle on the reverse, the inference can be drawn that because of this nonconformity the Bushnell shilling appears to be copied from the Pembroke drawing.
2. There are four large dots spread over about 90 degrees to fill the enormous gap between the words MASATHVSETS and IN in the obverse legend. These dots are midway between the inner circle and the edge. They are depressed and each contains one tiny crescent-shaped raised element. Although inexperienced diemakers can make errors in spacing legends, this gap is so unusual that a reason for the discrepancy should be sought. The illustration of the obverse of the Pembroke shilling in the Pembroke Plates (Plate I herein) shows the legend to be MAS followed by 16 equally spaced dots midway between the inner circle and the edge. These dots indicate unreadable portions of the legend on the Pembroke shilling and the coin itself bears out that fact. If a diemaker were copying this illustration and assumed that each of the 16 dots represented a missing letter or a punctuation mark then the legend of the Bushnell shilling could result. It was obvious from other Massachusetts coinage illustrated on the same plate that part of the missing legend was the completion of the word MASATHVSETS and the addition of the word IN, and its adjacent punctuation but there was no hint as to what the other four dots stood for. Therefore ATHVSETS....: IN: apparently was added in place of the 16 dots to produce the Bushnell shilling obverse die. The colon before the word IN may be only a period as this area is weak and difficult to interpret due to obverse slippage which occurred when the reverse die broke and collapsed. No other reason can be assigned to the four large depressed dots on the Bushnell shilling except that they represented part of the missing legend which the diemaker thought was indicated by the Pembroke drawing.
3. The Pembroke drawing of the reverse (Plate I) has seven dots to indicate the unreadable portions. If the illustration were being copied and the diemaker assumed that each dot represented a letter or punctuation mark then a guess at the missing portions would have to be made. The legend on the adjacent Oak Tree sixpence on the Pembroke plates (See Plate V) would indicate that O: IN NEW could be properly substituted for the seven dots. If the legend on the drawing of the reverse of the adjacent Pine Tree shilling were being used to supply the unreadable portions,: DOM NEW consisting of eight elements instead of seven would have to be used. The seven element insertion seems to have been selected, making the reverse read IN NEWENGLAND · ANO: instead of NEW ENGLAND · AN:DOM which would be the proper legend. This produced the only shilling of any variety where the word IN was repeated by being in both the obverse legend and the reverse legend. There could be no purpose in so doing when the word DOM should have been used instead of IN on the reverse. The entire legend, reading MASATHVSETS IN IN NEW ENGLAND ANO 1652 XII is therefore meaningless. There is only one other known Massachusetts coin, the Oak Tree sixpence known as Noe 19 (Crosby 3-E) which has the word IN found in the legends on each side and this variety will be subsequently shown to be a spurious coin. (See Page 46 and Plate V).
4. There is no separate outer circle on either obverse or reverse. The General Court of Massachusetts on October 19, 1652, in order to prevent its coins from being clipped ordered all coinage to have "a double Ring on either side." This Bushnell shilling is therefore in violation of that order as it has only the one inner circle on each side. It is interesting to note that the drawing of the Pembroke shilling on the Pembroke Plates also has no separate outer circle on either side, but merely a line outlining the edge of the coin. Thus if a diecutter were copying the Pembroke drawing the separate outer circles would be omitted because the illustration omitted them. Every other Willow, Oak or Pine Tree coin has separate outer circles on each side except the Oak Tree sixpence known as Noe 19 (Crosby 3-E) which also lacks both separate outer circles and as stated in the previous paragraph will be subsequently shown to be a spurious coin. (See Plate V).
5. The Bushnell shilling does not contain FAC SIMILE as the motto of the Good Samaritan. If the cutter of the dies of the Bushnell shilling was copying the Pembroke drawing and felt that FAC SIMILE meant reproduction, he would have eliminated this motto in order to produce the "original" and "genuine" shilling. This omission proves that the Pembroke drawing was copied in order to produce the Bushnell shilling, since we have shown that the motto in the counterstamp on the Pembroke shilling had an independent source related to the story of the Good Samaritan.
6. The Bushnell shilling has the scene of the Good Samaritan on the obverse in spite of the fact that the General Court Order of October 19, 1652, provides that the inscription be "Massachusetts and a tree in the Center on one side and New England and the yeere of our lord on the other side." This non-compliance might be possible if the Bushnell shilling were a pattern made prior to that order but it is unlikely that the legends and inner circles would be in compliance with the order and the device would not be. The determining factor, however, is that small shilling planchets and dies of the size used to make the Bushnell shilling were not used until about 1675. 44 Prior to that date the New England shillings and the Willow, Oak and Pine Tree shillings were on larger planchets and any pattern dies made prior to October 19, 1652, would have been made larger in diameter in order to strike larger planchets.
From the foregoing points one can readily conclude that the Bushnell shilling was artificially prepared by a diemaker who copied the Pembroke illustration and filled in detail from adjacent coins. That diemaker was obviously unfamiliar with actual specimens of Massachusetts silver coinage. Above all he had no idea that FAC SIMILE was the motto of the Good Samaritan and thought that it was an indication that the Pembroke shilling was a reproduction of a genuine coin. The unusual features found on the Bushnell shilling could not have happened by coincidence if the Bushnell shilling was made without knowledge of the Pembroke shilling or a drawing of it. It is amusing to realize that the motive to coin the deceiving Bushnell shilling would never have arisen if the motto, FAC SIMILE, had been properly translated and understood.
The author would like to be a Good Samaritan in order to heal the hurt feelings caused in the course of the controversy on this subject. The souls of the Bushnell shilling and the Pembroke shilling will live forever. They may take their place as the most notorious and intriguing fabrications in American numismatics.
The Pine Tree Coinage of Massachusetts, p. 7.
Thomas Wyatt of New York was a lecturer as well as an editor and compiler of books on such varied subjects as conchology, French history, religion, natural history, poetry, geology and American military data. He enjoyed being called "Professor," a title self-conferred. His one numismatic volume, published in 1854 on the subject of American military medals, had plates engraved by William L. Ormsby, the famous banknote engraver. 45 In 1856, Wyatt distributed reproductions of the Good Samaritan shilling along with seven other Massachusetts reproductions. 46 These coins may not have been intended to deceive collectors, but they were used for that purpose according to newspaper reports in Boston and New York. Wyatt even wrote on July 11, 1856, to Jeremiah Colburn, a coin dealer of Boston, that "I shall have in my possession, shortly, a fine specimen of the Good Samaritan." 47
The Wyatt reproductions are struck in silver (Plate IV). Apparently the diemaker, who was apparently not Wyatt himself, was unfamiliar with most of the coins as evidenced by the many errors made in the reproductions. It has been pointed out that the horizontal lines in the New England shilling and sixpence were copied by Wyatt's diemaker from illustrations in Felt who in turn had copied Folkes' erroneous drawing of them. The Pine Tree penny erroneously included by Folkes was copied by Felt and recopied for Wyatt. The Oak Tree twopence dated 1652 was an erroneous correction of either Felt or Folkes to correspond with the Folkes text. However, the Wyatt Oak Tree shilling and the Pine Tree sixpence were copied from actual coins as no drawings of these coins had been published.
The obverse of Felt's drawing of the Good Samaritan had deliberately omitted the motto, FAC SIMILE, and thus there was a similar omission on Wyatt's reproduction. The major deviation of the Wyatt obverse die from either the Pembroke or Bushnell shillings or drawings of them is that a linear outer circle was added touching many of the letters. Felt showed no reverse for the Good Samaritan shilling and Wyatt did not have a separate reverse made. Instead the reverse of Wyatt's Oak Tree shilling was used for the reverse of the Good Samaritan shilling.
Wyatt, by virtue of the copies he had made, was not aware of the existence of the Bushnell shilling. By 1858, however, Taylor, who located the Bushnell shilling, was familiar with Wyatt's copy of the Good Samaritan shilling since Taylor mentioned it in a letter to Bushnell.
Edwin Bishop of New York later succeeded to Wyatt's dies and restruck a few sets of reproductions in copper as well as silver. Either for amusement or because the Oak Tree shilling reverse die broke Bishop combined the Good Samaritan shilling obverse with the Oak Tree shilling obverse to make coins with two obverses (Plate IV). Finally, Bishop used these two obverse dies to overstrike an English guinea to produce the "fakest" coin in history. This gold overstrike has the distinction of being a unique muled restrike of a coined reproduction (Wyatt) of an erroneous drawing (Felt) copied from a partially conjured illustration (Folkes) of a genuine coin (Noe 25) spuriously counterstamped (Pembroke Shilling). It first appeared as Lot 1118 in the sale of Bishop's collection on December 15, 1863, and reappeared in many subsequent sales.
Richard D. Kenney, "Struck Copies of Early American Coins," Coin Collector's Journal, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Jan.–Feb., 1952), p. 1.
One variety of the Oak Tree Sixpence, known as Noe 19 48 and Crosby 3–E, is first described by Crosby and is illustrated on Plate V herein. Neither the obverse or reverse dies from which Noe 19 was struck are found on any other known coin, making them a completely independent pair of dies.
A photograph of this variety of sixpence has never been heretofore published. Crosby used a drawing and both Noe and the Standard Catalogue of United States Coins copied that drawing. Noe after an extensive search through many collections of Massachusetts silver was not able to find this variety to photograph. In 1956, the author located a specimen in England which coin is now in the collection of the American Numismatic Society. Since that time two other specimens have been located, so that there are now only three known. These examples of Noe 19 substantially exceed in weight the authorized weight of the Massachusetts sixpence. They weigh 46.5 grains, 52 grains and 39 grains. Since the official weight of the sixpence was designated at 36 grains by virtue of the Massachusetts General Court Order of June 11, 1652, that "every shilling shall be of due weight, viz. three penny troy weight and all other peeces proportionately" it is clear that these coins are far beyond the range of tolerance. No specimen of any variety of New England, Willow Tree, Oak Tree or Pine Tree sixpence has been located which weighs as much as 36 grains, except a unique Oak Tree sixpence pattern (Noe 15) struck over a shilling. No shilling of any variety has been located which weighs as much as 80 grains, as virtually all of them are less than 73 grains. The weights of these normal coins indicate that John Hull and his co-workers did not make substantial errors of weight against their own interests. Suspicion is therefore cast upon the genuineness of the specimens of Noe 19.
A study of the details of Noe 19 reveals the following major deviations from the normal series of Massachusetts silver:
1. Although there is adequate space outside the legend, no outer ring of dots is found on either the obverse or the reverse. Such circles of dots were required by the General Court Order, dated October 19, 1652, and are found on every other Willow Tree, Oak Tree and Pine Tree variety of each denomination except the Bushnell Good Samaritan shilling which has heretofore been shown to be artificial. An Oak Tree sixpence without outer circles is such a clear violation of the court order that it cannot be excused as a diemaker's error or a pattern. Adding outer circles would have been very easy to correct if a mistake were made on the dies.
2. The obverse and the reverse legends do not correlate. The obverse reads MASATHVSETS IN and the reverse reads IN NEWENGLAND: ANO:, the word IN being unnecessarily repeated. The fact that IN is found on both sides of the coin seems unusual, particularly because the obverse and reverse dies have matching characteristics such as the style of lettering and the small dots. This repetition of the word IN is found on the Bushnell Good Samaritan shilling also. The word IN is on the obverse of every other Massachusetts piece where the word IN is used at all except on one other variety of the Oak Tree sixpence known as Noe 16 (Crosby 6–F). This exception has the IN on the reverse only and is described hereafter.
3. The base of the tree is shown encircled by a line resembling a coiled serpent, an artistic treatment of the roots differing from the crude root designation found on all other known varieties of Massachusetts silver with the tree design.
In the Pembroke illustrations published in 1746 and heretofore described on page 3 herein there is a drawing of an Oak Tree sixpence in pars 4 tabula 14 which is virtually similar to Noe 19 and is illustrated on Plate V hereof. It is the only Massachusetts sixpence illustrated in the Pembroke plates. Folkes illustrated only a Pine Tree sixpence, and the Oak Tree sixpence shown in the Pembroke plates is not found in the illustrations of Snelling, Ruding or Felt who copied their predecessors drawings to a great extent with respect to Massachusetts silver coinage. Since no identical specimen to the coin illustrated in the Pembroke plates seems to exist its characteristics should be compared with the varieties most closely resembling it, namely, Noe 19 and Noe 16.
Noe 19 is only different from the Pembroke drawing in a minor degree. It can be noticed that the serpentine coil around the tree base is evident in each of them. The branches on the tree are the same and an independent branch arises from the ground and bends abruptly to the right. There is no outer circle of dots on either side of either of them. The diagonal of the last N in NEWENGLAND is reversed on the Pembroke illustration but not on Noe 19. The IN is repeated on the obverse and reverse of the Pembroke drawing as well as Noe 19, but the position of IN on the obverse of the Pembroke illustration is between 7 and 8 o'clock while on Noe 19 the IN is between 5 and 6 o'clock. The position of MASATHVSETS on the Pembroke drawing begins at 9 o'clock and ends at 6 o'clock while the same word on Noe 19 begins at 8 o'clock and ends at 4 o'clock. The differences appear inconsequential.
The Oak Tree sixpence known as Noe 16 (Plate V) also has many similarities to the Pembroke drawing. The obverse of Noe 16 contains the legend MASATHVSETS and does not have the word IN. The first S is small and tilts right exactly as the same letter does in the Pembroke drawing. The M in MASATHVSETS is at 9 o'clock both on Noe 16 and the Pembroke drawing and the final S is at 6 o'clock on both. Each S in MASATHVSETS has different characteristics, Noe 16 and the Pembroke drawing being alike in these respects. The first S is narrower than it should be in comparison with each adjacent A and at the base it is narrower than any other S. The second S is distant from V and the final S tilts to the right. The E is distant from the adjacent T in both Noe 16 and the Pembroke drawing. The coincidence of these characteristics is not accidental.
The reverse of Noe 16 and the drawing have identical lettering in the same position. The Pembroke drawing, however, has two colons as punctuation whereas the reverse of Noe 16 has a period and a rosette of seven dots. The last N in NEWENGLAND in the Pembroke drawing has its diagonal stroke reversed whereas the same N in Noe 16 has its diagonal in proper position.
In the best specimen of Noe 16 which could be found by Noe for illustration, the obverse was poorly struck because of a die flaw or break, the reverse being clear and strong. On the Noe plates, as well as on the Wurtzbach plates, 49 the roots cannot be discerned on this variety. If, therefore, there was in the Pembroke collection, a specimen of Noe 16 which was not struck clearly on the obverse in the area around the rosette and around the roots, it is entirely possible that Haym, the engraver of the Pembroke plates, had to guess the balance of the legend and the device. The space between the M and the last S of MASATHVSETS is sufficient for the word IN and the illustrator could readily notice the IN in the Massachusetts Pine Tree shilling he was also drawing. It was therefore logical for him to use IN to fill the space if the rosette could not be seen. Likewise, the illustrator would be obliged to draw imaginative roots if they were not discern- able. In that way the serpentine line coiled around the base of the tree might have been created. It is remarkable that Haym in trying to be reliable left evidence that the sixpence he was drawing was not fully legible. A careful examination of the Haym's illustration of the Pembroke sixpence shows that the IN on the obverse is dotted in and not cut in with continuous lines as is the case in all other lettering in the other varieties of Massachusetts silver. Haym unequivocally indicated by the use of dotting that he was doubtful as to what was in the 7 to 8 o'clock position on the obverse.
The outer rings of dots are barely discernable on either side of any Noe 16 variety. Likewise on most specimens the roots and the area where the rosette was struck are generally not discernable. Since there is proof by the dotted IN that the rosette area was not clear we can conclude that the differences between Noe 16 and the Pembroke drawing are entirely justifiable because they could not have been seen and had to be assumed. The balance of Noe 16 conforms so closely to the Pembroke illustration in all major particulars that the obvious conclusion is that the Pembroke drawing was copied from a very mediocre specimen of Noe 16.
The next problem is to try to eliminate the possibility that the drawing was copied from a specimen of Noe 19. At the Pembroke sale in 1848 the Massachusetts sixpence was not separately described, but its weight was given as 35.7 grains. Since the known specimens of Noe 19 are far heavier than the weight of the Pembroke sixpence which is normal, there would have to be another Noe 19. This other Noe 19 would also have to have an unreadable portion where the assumed IN was dotted in and this portion of the known pieces of that variety is strong. The chance that an unknown Noe 19 had a weakness in the identical place where Noe 16 has a weakness is negligible. The drawing therefore could not have been made from a specimen of Noe 19.
If the Pembroke drawing of the Oak Tree sixpence were being subsequently copied by a diemaker knowing little about Massachusetts coins all the innocent mistakes made by Haym would be copied also. The reversed diagonal of the last N in ENGLAND however was assumed by the diecutter of Noe 19 to be a common error which anyone engraving a plate might readily make. His assumption was correct as no Oak Tree sixpence or any other sixpence has an N with a reversed diagonal. Therefore the diecutter of Noe 19 corrected the mistake.
The conclusion therefore is inescapable that a mediocre specimen of a Noe 16 Oak Tree sixpence in the Pembroke collection was the basis of Haym's drawing and that the Noe 19 Oak Tree sixpence was a subsequent artificial coin copied from that drawing.
The Oak Tree sixpence known as Noe 19 must therefore be transferred from a classification as genuine to that of a fabrication and is redesignated as Noe OC.
The Oak Tree Coinage of Massachusetts, pp. 9, 10, 19 and Plate IV.
Since the Pembroke illustrations stimulated the production of the Bushnell Good Samaritan Shilling and Oak Tree sixpence Noe 19, there is a possibility that other coins on the Pembroke plate were copied.
A Pine Tree shilling recently located in England has an obverse and a reverse different from all published or known varieties and is illustrated on Plate VI hereof. It weighs 97.7 grams which is far heavier than the official weight of 72 grains. As has been stated heretofore the Massachusetts Mint was very careful as to the weight of issues. That the one known example is so far overweight creates suspicion.
An examination of this new Pine Tree shilling brings out one unusual variation from other Massachusetts coinage. The top of the first number in the date is bifurcated so that it somewhat resembles a Y instead of an I. A glance at both the Pembroke and Folkes illustrations of the Pine Tree Shilling (Plate VI) shows the identical bifurcation. There is no other variety of any denomination of Massachusetts coin which has any bifurcated I in the date. Again the problem arises as to whether the coin was copied from the drawings or the drawings from the coin.
The legend, punctuation and general layout of the Pembroke and Folkes drawings resemble the Pine Tree shilling variety Noe 1 (Crosby 12–I) which is illustrated on Plate VI herein. On the obverse of Noe 1 the second and third lower limbs on the left are joined on one branch. On the reverse there are colons before and after AN. These distinctive features are found only on Noe 1 and are also present on both the Pembroke and Folkes drawings. The Folkes drawing resembles Noe 1 so closely as to the shape of the tree and its roots and saplings that it is clearly copied from a specimen of Noe 1. The earlier Pembroke drawing although much cruder cannot be copied from any other known variety because it has the distinctive features above noted as well as the bifurcated I in the date. The problem therefore is how the bifurcation could be drawn by two different engravers unless it existed.
An examination of other specimens of Noe i shows a die break which develops at the top of the I of the date first toward the 6 and later to the left (Plate VI). Finally this break obliterates the entire top of the I. If the specimen which Pembroke had and the specimen which Folkes copied had the die break developed to look like a bifurcation it would have been so copied. Of the large Pine Tree shillings Noe i is the most common because the dies must have had long endurance. If two coins from the same general period in the life of the dies were the basis for the Pembroke and the Folkes drawings the bifurcation could be present on both. If the top of the I was obliterated in the coin which Folkes illustrated he or those who finished his plate could have copied the Pembroke drawing in that respect.
Snelling although illustrating the same variety drew the top of the I properly because he had an example without the die break to work from. Ruding used Folkes' plates and Felt blindly copied Folkes' plates to continue the bifurcation error.
A comparison of the Pembroke and Folkes drawings with Noe i and the newly located variety show the following:
|New Variety||Noe 1||Pembroke||Folkes|
|Dots in obverse rosette||8||7||7||8|
|Dots in reverse rosette||9||9||7||9|
|Dots in obverse inner circle||63||77||42||59|
|Dots in reverse inner circle||53||74||53||78|
These figures prove that the drawings are unreliable for minor detail.
There is however a detail on the tree in the newly located shilling which is indicative. There are seven branches on each side of the tree, all originating at the trunk. On the left side the third branch has two points of origin, a normal horizontal one and another gradually rising from a much lower point. An examination of the Pembroke illustration discloses one gradually rising limb connecting the second and third branches on the left to the trunk. The third branch on the drawing has no independent horizontal connection to the trunk.
It appears from the new shilling that the diemaker at first cut the third branch on the left so as to have an angular connection to the trunk following the Pembroke drawing and then was dissatisfied with its appearance and gave the third branch a horizontal connection too. This proves the new variety was copied from the Pembroke drawing because if the drawing were copied from the new variety the horizontal third branch connection to the trunk would be shown. While the Folkes drawing is similar to the Pembroke drawing as to this point the juncture of the second and third branch is almost at the trunk.
The new Pine Tree shilling therefore joins the Bushnell Good Samaritan shilling and the Oak Tree sixpence Noe 19 as being fabrications based upon the Pembroke drawings. It should be designated as Noe PQ.
Thomas Wyatt was not alone in having struck copies of Massachusetts pieces. He at least did not personally attempt to sell his pieces as genuine. The dangerous fabricator is the one who has only a few specimens struck from a fabricated die and sells them as part of a collection or a newly found hoard. The false New England sixpences, threepences, etc., 50 in the sale on December 5, 1871, of the collection of Dr. Charles Clay of Manchester, England, were allegedly found in a hoarded mass. The Bushnell Good Samaritan shilling was according to Taylor's letter to Bushnell acquired in a group of rare English coins. The famous 1650 Pine Tree shilling fabrications were allegedly found in a lot of silver bought from an old person in New Hampshire. 51
Fabricated coins were not necessarily made to be sold at high prices. They were often produced to help sell the balance of a group of coins or merely coined for devilment.
The Bushnell shilling first appeared in England in 1858; at least two of the three known Noe 19 Oak Tree sixpences were found in England; W. E. Woodward describes a specimen of Noe 19 (Lot 1908, April 28, 1863 sale) as a counterfeit of English origin; and the newly located Pine Tree shilling (Noe PQ) was also first seen in England. The emphasis on England cannot be disregarded. It has been shown that the interest in the sale of the Pembroke shilling in 1848 in England stimulated discussion concerning it and the "original" Bushnell shilling was available by 1858. Within that period the fabricator should be found.
The most notorious forger of coins in nineteenth century England was Singleton, a man about whom almost nothing is known, not even his first name. In Sotheby's sale in July, 1839, he is described as "the now well-known dealer, whose sanctified appearance and deceptive demeanour, have but too well enabled him to succeed in disposing of his forgeries as genuine, and by so doing injure the science of numismatics and defraud the unwary." 52 Singleton used the alias, Dr. James Edwards, of Waterford, Ireland, in 1840 in selling coins in Plymouth, England, and sometimes used the name James. 53 Silver coins of England, Scotland, etc. were being profusely counterfeited in 1849 and offered for sale in a shop in London 54 apparently by Singleton. In 1848, it was said that there were only two counterfeiters striking rare coins in England, Singleton and Emery, but Emery specialized in English gold coins and died in 1850. 55 Singleton apparently was the only rare coin fabricator operating in England after 1850, although the date of his death or his withdrawal from operations is unknown.
There are other American fabrications of the period which can be attributed to Singleton. Forgeries of a United States 1796 half-cent, and a Charles Carroll medal are known as Edwards' copies.
Dr. Francis S. Edwards, an English doctor and coin collector who moved to New York and died
there in 1865, was the source of these counterfeits according to Attinelli's following statement:
To him was attributed the appearance of several counterfeit pieces of rare American coins and medals which, though extremely
well executed, were quickly detected.
However, Woodward indicates in his April, 1866 catalogue as to the 1796 half-cent fabrication that he does not believe Dr. Francis S. Edwards' statement that the twelve pieces and the die were bought by Edwards in London. Dr. Francis S. Edwards is not the same person as the alias Dr. James Edwards, which was used by Singleton. Yet Singleton probably made the counterfeits which Dr. Francis S. Edwards distributed in America, particularly because the die was brought with the coins.
Since the fabricator of the three pieces of Massachusetts silver heretofore discussed was not familiar with specimens of the coinage, and worked from the Pembroke illustrations, this points to an English diecutter rather than to an American as the latter would have had the coins more readily available and would have copied from Felt's more recent book as Wyatt did rather than a 1746 publication. Some might feel that Wyatt's diecutter could have made these Massachusetts silver fabrications, but the fact that Wyatt had the same types of coins made for his own purposes would indicate that another source were involved.
The evidence indicates that Singleton was the most likely person to have made the Bushnell shilling, the Noe 19 Oak Tree sixpence, and the Noe PQ Pine Tree shilling and that they were struck in England between 1848 and 1858.
Noe, The New England and Willow Tree Coinages of Massachusetts , p. 55; John J. Ford, Jr., "Untraced Curiosities in the American Colonial Series," Numismatic Review, Vol. 4, No. 2–4 (April–October, 1947); See lots 2 and 3 of the sale of the Peter Geschwend collection on June 15, 1908, catalogued by Thomas L. Elder; Mason's Monthly Coin Collectors' Magazine (Philadelphia, Jan., 1872), Vol. 6, No. 1, p. 12.
Crosby, p. 63.
Leonard Forrer, Biographical Dictionary of Medallists (London, 1904–16), Vol. II, p. 533.
Numismatic Chronicle, Vol. II (1840), p. 256.
Numismatic Chronicle, Vol. XI (1849), p. 185.
Gentlemen's Magazine, Vol. 184 (July, 1848), p. 2; The Literary Gazette and Journal (London, 1848), p. 381.
Richard D. Kenney, "Struck Copies of Early American Coins," Coin Collector's Journal, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Jan.–Feb., 1952), p. 11.
E. J. Attinelli, Numisgraphics (New York, 1876), p. 42.
Noe described in detail and illustrated struck copies of Pine Tree coinage, but except for some Wyatt imitations did not attempt to illustrate or describe the struck copies of the other issues of Massachusetts silver. Because of the difficulties caused by the steady reappearance of fabrications an attempt is made herein to include those which Noe did not describe and illustrate.
The fabrications in this monograph are each represented by two letters so that they may complement and not conflict with Noe's single letter designation of fabrications in the Pine Tree Series. The first letter represents the series, such as N for New England, O for Oak Tree and P for Pine Tree. W would be used as the first letter for Willow Tree if any were found. The second letter is arbitrary except in the Pine Tree series where letters not used by Noe have been selected.
All of the Wyatt coinage except the Good Samaritan shilling and the New England sixpence are illustrated by Noe on Plate II of The New England and Willow Tree Coinages of Massachusetts and Plates VII, VIII, and XI of The Pine Tree Coinage of Massachusetts.
The Wyatt Good Samaritan shilling and the New England sixpence are illustrated herein on Plates IV and VII so that illustrations of all Wyatt's coinage are available in Noe's publications, or herein. 58
Since all other fabrications are being given a designation, it seems desirable to include those from the Wyatt series which do not have Noe numbers. The revised Wyatt series designations may be as follows:
|NA||Wyatt New England Shilling|
|NB||Wyatt New England Sixpence|
|OA||Wyatt 1652 Oak Tree Shilling|
|L||Wyatt 1652 Pine Tree Sixpence|
|M||Wyatt 1652 Pine Tree Threepence|
|OB||Wyatt 1652 Oak Tree Twopence|
|N||Wyatt 1652 Pine Tree Twopence (a muling)|
|O||Wyatt 1652 Pine Tree Penny|
|GS||Wyatt 1652 Good Samaritan Shilling|
|GO||Muling of Wyatt Good Samaritan and Wyatt Oak Tree Shilling obverse dies|
The copies of Massachusetts silver produced by C. Wyllys Betts when he was a student at Yale 59 are too crude to consider as they were hot rolled between negatives made out of smoothed-off copper coins. He also produced a silver sixpence weighing 46½ grains with NH CON MAS PLY RI surrounding NE on the obverse and NEW ENGLAND VI surrounding 1686 on the reverse.
Fabrications undoubtedly exist in addition to those listed by Noe or herein and there may be others to beware of in the future. It is hoped, however, that those described will simplify the recognition of genuine pieces after electrotypes and casts of genuine coins have been rejected.
In order to recognize fabrications of the New England series it seems desirable to describe briefly the method used in striking the genuine pieces. At the Massachusetts Mint planchets for New England silver were struck with punches which did not extend beyond the depressed outline surrounding the NE or the denomination. Only one of these punches would be used while the planchet was held on a flat base. Then the second punch would be used after the coin was turned over on its horizontal axis in order to avoid crushing the impression of the first punch by the use of the second punch. The genuine New England pieces therefore have their punch marks about 180° offset and never back to back.
The Wyatt copies of the New England shilling and sixpence are struck at one time from a pair of dies which covered the full size of the planchet and often show portions of the circumferential line surrounding the field of striated horizontal lines. These Wyatt fabrications have the NE and the denomination back to back. Even though the field of striated lines has been buffed off or otherwise tooled, Wyatt pieces are nevertheless distinguishable because of the back to back juxtaposition of the imitated punch marks. The striated lines in the field were copied from Felt's erroneous plate of 1839 which in turn was copied from the erroneous drawing found on Folkes' Plate XXX published in 1763. The earlier Pembroke illustration of the New England shilling, published in 1746, was accurate in not having striations in the field.
The New England silver pieces in the sale of Dr. Charles Clay on November 21, 1871, consisting of three genuine shillings (Lots 63, 64 and 65), Wyatt copies of a shilling and sixpence (Lots 66 and 74), two fabricated sixpences (Lots 67 and 68), three fabricated threepences (Lots 69, 70 and 71), and three coins artificially counterstamped with a false NE (Lots 72, 73 and 75).
These forgeries were recognized at the time but reappeared subsequently in other sales. 60 They are herein described as Fabrications NG, NM and NQ.
See Addenda to John F. McCoy Sale (W. E. Woodward, cataloguer), held May 17, 1864 Edouard Frossard, "Fabrication," Numisma, Vol. 2, No. 2 (March 1878); Comment following Lot 587 of Edouard Frossard Sale No. 104 held January 9, 1891.
John J. Ford, Jr., "Untraced Curiosities in the American Colonial Series," Numismatic Review, Vol. 4, No. 2–4 (April–Oct., 1947), p. 93.
New England shilling with the left upright of the N in the form of a sweeping concave curve joining the top of the diagonal at its upper left corner instead of joining the diagonal below its top. The bottom of the outline of the NE punch is convex instead of straight. The punches are improperly back to back. The John J. Ford specimen is slightly overweight at 73½ grains and is illustrated on Plate VII. The dies for this piece were cut by the makers of the dies for New England sixpence designated as Fabrication NH as indicated by the similarity of the shape of the NE.
New England shilling first described in 1911 by Henry Chapman 61 having a raised line instead of a punch depression surrounding the NE and the XII. The left upright of the N is in the form of an arc of a circle and joins the diagonal at its top end instead of joining the diagonal below its upper end. The E tilts to the right. The X in XII is very narrow. The punch marks are 180° apart. A specimen from the Chase Manhattan Bank collection is illustrated on Plate VII herein and weighs 60 grains. The dies for this piece were cut by the maker of the dies for New England sixpence designated as Fabrication NJ as indicated by the raised line around the punch marks.
1665 Massachusetts, New England Colony shilling with the obverse legend M + NE COL + surrounding a 10 pointed star and the reverse legend XII PENCE 1665 in three lines. This completely spurious fraud illustrated on Plate VIII is struck in silver and weighs 81 grains. It is also found in copper. Its existence was commented upon in many W. E. Woodward sales which placed its origin as Hillsboro, New Hampshire.
The Numismatist, Vol. 24 (Nov., 1911), p. 405 and Vol. 25 (Jan., 1912), p.5.
The New England sixpence from the Clay sale has the NE in a rectangular depression with rounded corners instead of a depression corresponding to the shape of the NE. Crosby, on his Plate II–25 illustrated Lot 67 which weighs 36 grains. The other specimen, Lot 68, represented on Plate VII herein weighs only 28 grains. Both coins are from the same pair of punches in spite of statements to the contrary in the Clay catalogue. Both are now in the collection of the American Numismatic Society.
New England sixpence with the left upright of the N in the form of a sweeping concave curve joining the upper end of the diagonal at the upper left corner instead of joining the diagonal below its upper end. The I of VI is tilted to the right almost being parallel to the right side of the V. The punches are improperly back to back. The W. B. Osgood Field specimen in the American Numismatic Society collection weighs 30.3 grains and is illustrated on Plate VII herein. The Maurice Gould specimen weighs 35 grains and has slight evidence of edge reeding still remaining from the more modern coin used as a planchet for this fabrication.
New England sixpence with a raised line instead of a punch depression surrounding the NE and the VI. The diagonal stroke of the N is erroneously from upper right to lower left. The frame around NE is rectangular rather than following the shape of the NE. The punch marks are 180° apart. This coin was first described in 1911 by Henry Chapman.61 The author's specimen weighs 31.5 grains. This is a companion piece to New England shilling Fabrication ND.
New England sixpence in which the punch depression fails to follow the outline of the NE at the top and runs in a straight line across that portion. The VI is double-struck. A specimen formerly in the University of Pennsylvania collection weighs 29.5 grains and is illustrated on Plate VII herein. The round planchet is peculiarly clipped off in a straight line at the top of each punch mark. The punch marks are about 150° apart. The texture of the silver is much more uniform than the genuine New England coinage.
The New England sixpence described and illustrated in The New England and Willow Tree Coinages of Massachusetts (p. 8 and Plate II–4) should be removed from a classification as genuine to that of a fabrication. It is overweight at 38.3 grains and its NE is much too thin and delicate. Above all, its NE and VI punches are back to back, contrary to the striking practice employed at the Massachusetts Mint. Although the coin is badly scraped and worn, the punch marks, strangely enough, are sharp and unblemished. No other specimen bearing the impression of either the obverse or reverse punch is known. It is possible that this variety is a carefully tooled Wyatt New England sixpence since the latter is far overweight, also has punches back to back, and is the same diameter and has a similar layout for the NE and the VI.
The counterstamp NE used on the coins designated as Lots 72, 73 and 75 of the Clay sale is the same die punch used to make the sixpence in the Clay sale referred to as Fabrication NG herein.
Lot 75 has the same NE counterstamp on the obverse of a genuine Pine Tree shilling, Noe 1. This coin, weighing 67.9 grains, is in theNorweb collection and is illustrated on Plate VIII herein.
New England threepence from the Clay sale having the NE erroneously in a rectangular depression with rounded corners. Crosby, in his Plate II–26, illustrated Lot 69 which weighs 24 grains. Lots 70 and 71, weighing 24 grains and 18 grains, respectively, are in the collection of the American Numismatic Society, the former being illustrated on Plate VII herein. All three are from the same pair of dies in spite of the statement to the contrary in the Clay catalogue.
New England threepence on which the outline of the reverse punch is octagonal instead of being rectangular as are the reverse punches of each denomination. It is about 20% overweight at 21.4 grains and has its punches improperly back to back. It is illustrated on Plate VII herein. It was obtained by W. B. Osgood Field at the same time as he acquired Fabrication NH and is now in the American Numismatic Society collection.
The fabrications of the Oak Tree coinage only seem to include the following:
Wyatt Oak Tree Shilling (Noe OA)
1652 Wyatt Oak Tree twopence (Noe OB)
Oak Tree sixpence (Noe 19) (redesignated as Noe OC)
Noe's detail on fabrications and reproductions is further supplemented as follows:
Pine Tree shilling fabrication, Noe I (Crosby 25–T), has never been accurately illustrated although it was discussed on page 46 of Noe's The Pine Tree Coinage of Massachusetts. In Dickeson's American Numismatic Manual, it is drawn on Supplementary Plate XX and this drawing is included by Noe on his Plate VIII. The spelling of MASSA-----S with the double S is distinctive as is the omission of AN DOM (or any abbreviation thereof) on the reverse of a shilling. The American Numismatic Society's specimen is illustrated on Plate VIII herein. It is slightly clipped but not to the extent necessary to account for its short weight of 39 grains compared to a 72 grain standard.
Pine Tree shilling described and discussed on pages 51-3 and illustrated on Plate VI herein.
Pine Tree shilling with its tree being a direct copy of Noe 1. 62 Each side of the tree has seven branches and all originate at the trunk except the third lowest branch on the left which originates on the branch below. The shape of the tree, the number of branches, the forks on the branches, the direction of the roots and most significantly, the origin of the third lowest branch are also characteristics of Pine Tree shilling Noe 1. The areas closely surrounding the tree, the lettering and the rings of dots are depressed from the general level of the field instead of being on the same level. The two known specimens are both heavily clipped. Even if the missing areas were assumed to cover the maximum diameter of a large size Pine Tree shilling planchet their original weights would only have been 58 and 56 grains respectively instead of 72 grains, assuming uniform thickness. The Chase Manhattan Bank specimen only weighs 30.5 grains and the Norweb specimen weighing 34.1 grains is illustrated on Plate VIII herein.
Kenneth Bressett, "Pine Tree Shilling Variety," The Numismatist, Vol. 68 (Jan., 1955), p. 26.
Bright and new Pine Tree shilling with obverse and reverse copied from Noe 1. The tree on the obverse has no roots projecting below the base as Noe 1 has. The obverse legend is punctuated with a colon and a double colon instead of with a period and a rosette of 7 dots. The rosette on the reverse has 8 dots instead of 9. The artificial die break cut from the top of the 1 over to the 6 in the date is horizontal instead of rising to the right and is too uniform in width. The Bressett specimen is overweight at 88.4 grains.
Pine Tree shilling of the small type with a U instead of a V in MASATHUSETS. The left end of the tree roots cut into the inner circle of dots. On the reverse the top of each A is open whereas on the obverse they are closed. On the reverse the first D is much larger than the second D. The Picker specimen weighs 61.5 grains and is illustrated on Plate VIII herein.
"Struck Copies of Early American Coins," by Richard D. Kenney, contains illustrations of all of the Wyatt die varieties; except the Pine Tree twopence combination.
Since the publication of Noe's three monographs covering the classification of Massachusetts silver coinage, some unlisted genuine major varieties and subvarieties have been noticed. The new major varieties include one New England type, one Willow Tree type and one Oak Tree type. The subvarieties are distinctive transitional die states between listed combinations of the same pair of dies. Noe assigned separate numbers to different states of the same pair of dies whenever a major change resulted from die recutting, die breakage, or die failure and therefore the additional transitional states described herein are designated with intervening decimals.
New Noe numbers are assigned to the following:
Obverse: The same punch as Noe 1 with the thin line die defect or die break extending from the top of the serif on the center stroke of the E to the bottom of the top stroke of the E.
Reverse: The depressed rectangular panel is smaller than any other variety. The upper left corner of X touches the perimeter of the panel. The lower right corner of X touches the adjacent I. The punch used for this reverse seems to be a recutting of Noe reverse A as the elements of XII are in the same position. The punch seems to have been filed down on all four sides, thereby reducing the panel size.
A second specimen from the same dies is known 64 with part of its reverse double struck in such a way that a splinterlike sliver breaks the right side of the frame and the second I is very irregular.
Lot 2 of sale held June 28, 1918 (Henry Chapman, cataloguer).
Noe obverse 2 is combined with Noe reverse A forming a new combination of known dies. The American Numismatic Society's specimen weighs 67.7 grains and is illustrated on Plate IX herein.
The Norweb collection specimen weighs 69.5 grains.
Obverse: The legend reads MASATHVSETS · IN · and has no rosette. The IN is part of the obverse legend similar to the obverse legend in Noe 23. The trunk of the tree has 4 vertical lines intersected by two cross lines rising from left to right.
Reverse: The same reverse as Noe 28, but with a die break running from the top of the rosette to the top of the D to the outer circle of dots.
The former Stack specimen, weighing 16.5 grains, is illustrated on Plate IX herein.
The Norweb specimen, weighing 14.2 grains, is holed.
Oak Tree shillings Noe 13 and 14 are from the same pair of dies and differ only by extensive recutting. In the course of their transition from one state to the other there are intervening states. The first recutting shows that the obverse differs from the obverse of Noe 13 by having shaggy instead of bare branches on the tree, by the top of the second S having a serif and by the crossbar of the second T being forked at both ends. The reverse is the same as the reverse of Noe 13. The Cyril Hawley specimen weighing 70.5 grains is illustrated on Plate IX herein. The Norweb specimen weighs 71 grains.
Lot 2, Catalogue of the 1957 American Numismatic Association Sale, held August 21, 1957.
The obverse shows further recutting from transition state Noe 13.3 and now approaches the state of the obverse of Noe 14. The dots in the circles are enlarged and the top of A has been extended to touch a dot in the outer circle. The E has forked serifs. The top and bottom of the first S have serifs. The reverse continues to be the same reverse as the reverse of Noe 13. The Jackman specimen is illustrated on Plate IX.
The defects on both sides of Oak Tree sixpence Noe 17 are now known to have been caused by die damage rather than being the result of "a re-used flan" as stated in Noe. The obverse and reverse dies were struck, or fell together when no planchet was between them, each die thus damaging the other. The undamaged die state is therefore given a separate numbering.
Oak Tree twopences Noe 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 and 34 constitute various changes in the one pair of dies used to make all twopences. There is one die state, however, in which the date becomes unreadable because the die break extends across the top of the 2, left across the second 6 into the first 6, making the date appear to be 1672. The James A. Johnson, Jr., specimen weighs 11½ grains and is shown on Plate IX herein.
In addition to forged dies there are deceptive examples of re-engraving or tooling of genuine Massachusetts silver pieces.
An alteration of an Oak Tree shilling into a Pine Tree shilling is in the Norweb collection. The tree on Oak Tree Shilling Noe 10 is normally weak and is barely evident in some specimens. It was so weak that the central portion of the die was actually recut at the Massachusetts Mint resulting in the striking of varieties Noe n and Noe 12. The temptation existed for an unscrupulous person to take a weakly-struck specimen of Noe 10 and have an engraver "improve it" by cutting a new tree on the surface of the coin. The specimen on Plate IV herein is the result.
Another example of alteration by tooling is the Oak Tree penny dated 1662 65 and illustrated on Plate IV herein. This creation is merely an Oak Tree twopence which has had its denomination changed, a fact which Crosby noted. 66 Its weight of 10.8 grams is that of a twopence. The date as well as the tree are different from Wyatt's Pine Tree penny of 1652. Both types were stimulated by the innocent error of Folkes prior to 1754 in mentioning and imaginatively illustrating a Massachusetts one pence, which error was blindly copied by Snelling in 1769, by Ruding in 1817, and by Felt in 1839 to give it fictitious status.
Lot 2295, Sale of the Joseph J. Mickley Collection (W. E. Woodward, cataloguer), held October 28, 1867.
Early Coins of America , p. 74.
UNLISTED GENUINE VARIETIES