Pine Tree Coinage of Massachusetts

Noe, Sydney P. (Sydney Philip), 1885-1969
Numismatic Notes and Monographs
American Numismatic Society
New York
Worldcat Works




Table of Contents




Three hundred years ago on the 11th of June, 1652, a coinage for the Massachusetts Bay Colony was authorized in Boston.1 The coins which were struck under this authorization have since come to be known generally and collectively as Pine Tree Shillings although all the trees were not Pine and all of the coins were not shillings. In the charter given the Virginia colonists, a provision for coinage had been made, but no such grant had been made to the Bay colony. Charles I had been executed in 1649, and Charles II was defeated at Worcester in 1651. It is possible that some understanding with Cromwell was reached by the colonists, but if such be the case, no record of it is extant today. All this was changed with the restoration of Charles II. As the coins, with the exception of the twopence, were all dated 1652, which was within a year of the royal exile, the colonists were open to the charge of having infringed the royal prerogative. Since the coinage was not stopped immediately, there is some vraisemblance to the familiar tale that Sir Thomas Temple modified the royal displeasure by explaining "that the Massachusetts people, not daring to put his majesty's name on their coin, during the late troubles, had impressed upon it the emblem of the oak which preserved his majesty's life."2

Boston in 1652 was a little over twenty years old. The settlement can scarcely have extended far from the waterfront. The inclement weather contributed to epidemics which brought much sorrow and hardship to the settlers. Added to these very real difficulties was a pressing lack of sufficient currency to supply the needs of the town. To meet this situation, the authorities of the colony resolved to establish a mint. For carrying out their plans, they chose John Hull as mintmaster and Robert Sanderson as his assistant. It speaks well for both of these men that no complaint is on record as to the performance of their duties.

Even a brief summary of the public services of John Hull would require considerable space. In two earlier monographs it was assumed that these would be known to readers; it seems fitting, however, that they be reviewed here even though some of the statements may be familiar. For many of these we owe an exceptionally full record to a diary kept by Hull which has been preserved, as well as to his letter-books and accountbooks from which a clear picture of this early patriot may be constructed. The diary was published in 1857 by The American Antiquarian Society (its present owner) and has served most of the historians of this period since that year.3

Approaching Hull from another side of his activities, Hermann Frederick Clarke has published a volume devoted chiefly to Hull's work as a silversmith. This excellent study modestly disclaims originality, but it very conveniently brings together the more important data concerning Hull's life and does not neglect their setting. Pertinent documents are quoted and references helpfully given. One chapter is devoted to his mintmastership.

About Robert Sanderson, chosen by him as partner at the mint, as we learn from Hull's diary, we know very little as compared with Hull. Much of the silver that has been identified as having been produced in the shop of Hull and Sanderson bears the separate punchmarks of both of them. A single piece bears Hull's punch alone. Four bear the sole mark of Sanderson and are believed by Clarke 4 to have been produced after the partnership ceased. Hull died in 1683, but Sanderson survived until 1693. It seems, and with much probability in view of Hull's official and business engagements, that Sanderson was responsible for the details and that supervision and planning were Hull's responsibility.

Today, the four groups into which the coinage under Hull and Sanderson is divided are well known to almost every American numismatist. It is also generally known that they were placed in their correct order by Sylvester S. Crosby whose Early Coins of America and the Laws Governing 'Their Issue, published in 1875, is the rock-like foundation for any study of the early coinage of our country.5 In a previous study, the New England and Willow Tree Coinages of Massachusetts , the employment of methods not known in Crosby's day showed that the cryptic inscriptions on the Willow Tree issues, which seem to have puzzled Crosby and his contempararies, were due to double or triple strikings and that only three obverse and five reverse dies were up to that writing (1943) distinguishable — a valuable criterion in estimating the length of the period during which the Willow Tree coins were struck.

In a subsequent study, The Oak Tree Coinage of Massachusetts , it was demonstrated that the cause of the irregularities in the striking of the Willow Tree coins must have been due to the use of cylindrical dies whose freedom to rotate produced the repeated letters of the inscriptions and the double or triple impresses of the designs. This condition was remedied by employing dies whose shape was prismoidal, i.e., dies with four, six or eight sides which permitted them to be clamped so that the die would not rotate. The impress of these straight-edged dies was found on the Oak Tree issues, while the die-impress on the Willow Tree coins was circular. This innovation may have been coupled with the use of a screw-press. As a result, the Oak Tree issues were excellent coins for their period and sustain comparison with most contemporary European coinages. A tentative ordering for the Oak Tree varieties somewhat modified that presented by Crosby. The present study takes up the last of the four coin-types, the Pine Tree.

The Pine Tree shillings are the best known of the issues of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and because this was the latest and the most prolific of the four forms, the entire coinage has been given this designation. Crosby states that the earliest reference to the coins by this name occurs in an application to the General Court which is dated 1680.6

We do find reference to "Boston or Bay Colony" shillings, however, and this would be a collective term, applying to any of the forms, whether NE, Willow, Oak or Pine. The great need for small denominations made these coins popular beyond the confines of the Bay Colony, for we have acts passed by certain of the islands of the West Indies giving them currency.7 The cargoes of salted fish from Boston found a ready sale in these islands, and the coins of the Bay Colony would have had ample occasion for transmission to such markets. It was from the West Indies, and more probably Jamaica, that the supply of silver was obtained. Here was offered such loot as pirates or privateers might capture from the Spanish shipping to or from the ports of Mexico and South America, among which silver was a prominent commodity. It seems probable also that it was here that the much prized Spanish iron or steel used for the dies of these coins may have been obtained, since the bog iron produced in New England is thought to have been too poor in quality for this purpose.

The appended plates showing the varieties of the Pine Tree issues display at a glance one condition which greatly simplifies their study. They divide themselves very conveniently into two groups: the first, and the earlier, have the enlarged, thin flan which marks most of the Oak Tree issues which precede; the second, have a much smaller and more constricted planchet (24–27 mm.). These must, therefore, have been the latest issues in the coinage as is made evident from a consideration of the hoards which are known.

In our "Descriptive Notes" the form of the inscriptions is given, together with distinguishing characteristics of each die. The plates and Crosby's table reproduced on Plates IX and X supply other pertinent details. The best preserved specimens available have been chosen for illustration; their present ownership and weight is recorded also.

End Notes

1 In my earlier studies, The New England and Willow Tree Coinages of Massachusetts (Numismatic Notes and Monographs No. 102) and The Oak Tree Coinage of Massachusetts (Numismatic Notes and Monographs No. 110), there have inevitably appeared repetitions of many of these statements. It is hoped that their inclusion here will be recognized as necessary introduction.
2 Quoted by Crosby Early Coins of America, p. 75, from Hollis's Memoirs, Vol. I, pp. 397, 398.
3 "The Diaries of John Hull, Mint-master and Treasurer of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, from the original manuscript in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society," Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society, Vol. III, 1857, pp. III–316.
4 H. F. Clarke, John Hull, a Builder of the Bay Colony (Portland, Maine, 1940). p. 116.
5 For an appreciation of this volume, see New England and Willow Tree Coinages, pp. 3 and 5 ff.
6 Crosby, The Early Coins of America (Boston, 1875), pp. 108–109.
7 Robert Chalmers, A History of Currency in the British Colonies (London, 1893), p. 64.


Establishing a date for the initiation of the Pine Tree type offers difficulties, but a careful study of the documents printed by Crosby permits deductions which are helpful though not entirely conclusive. We have a copy of the court order for the minting of the twopence under date of May 16th, 1662.1 This provides for the coining of this denomination for the next seven years and stipulates the proportion of twopence to the total coinage — a consideration of value in estimating the extent of the entire output. The term of seven years seems to have become an id�e fixe of the authorities for, as we shall see, it occurs in at least two later agreements between them and John Hull and Robert Sanderson. According to the arrangement made in 1662, there would have been no coinage of this denomination after 1669, but Crosby reasons convincingly from the alterations made to the reverse die2 and because of the smallness of the dies, that it was struck for a longer period. We can therefore hardly take 1669 as the date for the change from the Oak to the Pine Tree types. I believe that we have means for reaching greater certainty by working backward from the date on which all coining stopped at this mint. The Massachusetts Records afford us another document recording the negotiations of a Committee of the Court with "the former master of the mint" because "the time formerly agreed upon with the mint masters is now expired." Hull and Sanderson are enjoined to "Continue to mint what Silver bulljon shall Come in for the seven yeares next to Come, if either of them live so long." The date of this agreement is May 12th, 1675, which would make its expiration date May 12th, 1682. Crosby quotes a letter3 from the officials of the King's Mint found at the State Paper Office in London under date of Nov. 22, 1684, with the statement "that a mint hath hitherto been kept up and employed at Boston in New England," and another reference which makes provisions "if his Majesty shall think fitt to settle a Mint in N. E." It seems certain that coinage must have stopped before 1684, and the expiration of Hull's agreement in May of 1682 is hardly likely to have been extended appreciably beyond this date. Hull died October 1, 1683. The Charter of the colony was revoked Oct. 23, 1684.

If there was an interval between the large-flan Pine Tree coins and those which are smaller and thicker, it can hardly have been extensive in time, but there is support for the suggestion in the agreement with the mint masters which precedes the one which we have just been considering. This is dated October 9th, 1667, and like the two others which have been quoted, covers a period of seven years.4 This period would have expired in October of 1674, and that there was any coining between that date and July 9th, 1775, when the new agreement with "the former mint masters" was signed, seems unlikely in the light of the explicitness which marks both the procedure of the Court and Hull and Sanderson's business-like way of doing things. In view of the wording quoted, there would seem to have been in 1674–5 at least a possibility that the former mint masters might not continue to be in charge.

Crosby makes the very probable suggestion that the decrease in diameter may have been due to the discovery that small dies lasted longer than the ones required for the larger flans and that this was the cause of the constriction. Does it not seem that this innovation must have been decided upon in 1675 ? And does it not follow that the introduction of the Pine Tree type on the larger–flan issues may have been decided upon at the beginning of the term of the previous agreement — that is, in 1667. Such a dating would seem to accommodate itself very well to the proportionate number of dies, although any such comparison must take into account an apparent increase in the small-flan coinage (which is to be seen in the diagram on page 12). We must also ask whether there may not have been a temporary stoppage of coining of the Oak Tree pieces in 1665 following upon receipt of the demand of the King's Commissioners that the law providing for the coinage be repealed. From the foregoing, I think we are justified in rejecting Crosby's tentative dating of 1662 for the introduction of the Pine Tree type.

With the plate of the large-flan Pine Tree shillings before one, it is easier to follow the reasoning which dictated the arrangement here submitted. Crosby's ordering was based on the punctuation on the obverse die (p. 55 and Table on pages 56–7, reproduced on Plates IX and X of this monograph). The sizes given by him are for the diameters of the inner and outer circles of beads and are, as was to have been expected from a man who was also a student of astronomy, accurate. But he does not start with the largest dies which his Table gives as 3 and 4. (Nos. 2 and 3, herein). For both of these, the diameters of the beaded circles are larger than for any of the Oak Tree shillings, the last of which has an oval rather than a circular border with the vertical axis longer than the horizontal. For the latest Oak Tree issues, the flans as well as the dies are smaller than for our Nos. 1 to 3 of the Pine Tree coins. There would seem to have been a new beginning.

This, however, is not the only reason for the changed order.

The tree forms of Nos. 13 to 15 are much nearer the simplified forms of the later small-flan shillings shown on the following plates, from which our Nos. 1 to 3 are furthest removed in point of form or style. The transition from Nos. 1 to 15 is gradual and shows a consistent tendency. The die-combinations provide further support for the sequence as submitted. They show that there were three combinations — Nos. 2–3 (Crosby 3F and 4F), Nos. 4–7 (Crosby 5B and 7B) and Nos. 8–10 (Crosby 1C and 1D). Of these, the tree-form of No. 7 seems to have been a derivative of No. 2 with a trend away from the straight branches of the former toward the curved ones of Nos. 8–10.

Because the recutting of the last die of the Oak Tree shillings (Nos. 13 and 14) seems to try to make a Pine out of an Oak Tree, this may have occurred after 1667 when Hull's new agreement with the authorities was ratified. Reason for rejecting Crosby's variety IOP will be presented later. Without the altered Oak Tree die (14), we should then have eight obverse and seven reverse dies for these large flan Pine Tree shillings, struck, as has been suggested, between 1667 and 1674.

The last group of the Pine Tree coins, which we have shown may with some assurance be dated between 1675 and 1682 are more common than the earlier pieces and show less marked differences. The diagram appended shows one striking contrast. Whereas previously a new die was not prepared until the old one had been outworn, or nearly so, we have now clear indication that not less than four pairs of dies may have been in use at the same time. Whether the tale that the Oak Tree on the coins was intended for the royal oak did satisfy Charles II to the extent that there was no agitation for suppressing the mint for a number of years following this incident is a moot question. But by 1675, or shortly thereafter, when Hull's last seven-year agreement with the colony was effected, there must have been a realization on his part and on the part of the Bay State authorities that there was strong likelihood that further minting would be forbidden. And since there could be no denial that a mint had been operating, their conviction on this count was sure. No benefit would be derived from minimizing the offense. The indications point to a decision to increase the coinage to the limit. Small-sized flans withstand the stresses of coining better than spread ones, and there would have been a longer life for each pair of dies and a consequent increase in the number of coins produced by each pair. There seems the best of reasons to believe that the output of the mint in this last period was greater than in any that had preceded.

There is, however, another possibility. In a Minute of the Court dated October 10th, 1677, "It is ordered that the Tresurer doe forthwith prouide tenn barrells of Cranburyes, two hogsheads of special Good Sampe, and three thousand of Cod ffish, to be sent to our messengers, by them to be presented to his Majesty as A present from this Court.' An entry in Hull's letter book shows that part of this provender was sent in the ship "Blessing" to the London agents of the colony, William Stoughton and Peter Bulkley. In October of 1678, the Court writes to the same agents "As for that particular of our Coyning money wth our oune Impress, His Majty of his Gratious Clemency towards us hath not binn pleased as yet to declare his pleasure therein; and wee haue Confidence that when he shall truely be informed of the symplicity of our Actings, the publicke Joy thereof to his subjects here, and the great damage that the stoppage thereof will Inevitably be to our necessary Comerce and abatement of his Majtjes Customes yearely Acruing by our merchants & Nauigation, & is pajd at London, his majtye will not Account those to be freinds to his Croune that shall seeke to Interrupt us therein; and for the Impress put vpon it wee shall take it as his majtjes signall ouning vs if he will please to order such an Impresse as shall be to him most Acceptable."

This shows clearly that hope of obtaining the royal permission had not yet been abandoned and a report by the agents of a seemingly favorable response might have resulted in an authorization to Hull and Sanderson to increase the output of the mint. The former explanation, however, seems the more probable.

Justifying the arrangement submitted for the small flan issues is much more difficult than might be expected. In the previous pages an effort has been made to show that there was a considerable increase in the output of the mint during the last seven years of Hull's incumbency. There may have been four pairs of dies in active use at the same time, possibly more. The combinations with the four reverse dies form an entity, albeit a complicated one. In the present ordering, No. 15 (Crosby 24-N) precedes. The reasons for this placement are technical and stylistic. The pine tree here seems to have been copied from No. 11 (Crosby 2a-Al), and the reduced size of the letters of the inscription on that die is followed on both dies of this variety. The neatly formed letters and the exceptionally large interval between the last S of MASATHVSETS and IN seem to indicate an engraver new to his task. So, too, do such inadvertencies as the lowered L of ENGLAND on the reverse and the spacing of AN DO. The rather unhappy form of the 5 of the date is open to the same interpretation and the spacing of the beads of the borders, though careful, appears to be timid. All these conditions are greatly improved in the dies which follow and would be less reasonably explainable if this variety were placed after the complex of the combinations which follow. Moreover, the form of the tree does not fit there as well as here. Crosby placed this piece at the end of the series because he used the rosettes of the obverse as the criterion for his order.

The arrangement for Nos. 16 to 22 is determined by the wear on the reverse die (Crosby's L). One can hardly be certain that this order is absolutely as given because it is easy to confuse the wear on a given coin with the wear on the die, but if the demonstration that these dies were in use concurrently be accepted, it follows that no great difference in point of time will be involved. In his introductory paragraph for the series, Crosby remarks regarding the Pine Tree issues "This type furnishes at least twenty-four obverse dies of the Shilling, or about double the number of both Willows and Oaks, and are met within about the proportion of four of these to one of those." As between the large-flan Pine Tree shillings and those of the smaller and thicker flans, the latter appear to be much the more numerous.


If, as the combinations show, four pairs of dies may have been in use concurrently, the relative order within the complex is of comparatively slight importance. Taking Crosby's L die as the earliest (our Nos. 16-22), we can show that L precedes die Q through the progression of die flaws (cf. obverses of Nos. 20 and 27). There is not enough indication of wear to show whether No. 21 (16-L) preceded No. 23 (16-M) or vice versa. The doubled V,s (for W) of the reverse inscription of No. 23 and the improved circle of the inner border might be taken to indicate the order 20–23 (L-M). As between Nos. 23 and 24, the doubled Vs of the reverse link it to No. 23 rather than No. 24 so the order submitted (L-M-O) seems highly probable. No. 26 definitely follows No. 25 because of the development of the die-flaw at the last N. Placing No. 29 (Crosby 14-R) and No. 30 (Crosby 13-S) at the end of the coinage is based on the development of the tree-form and inscriptional tendencies although the condition that the reverse die of No. 25 is not combined with more than one other die may point to O having followed Q.

End Notes

1 Crosby, p. 55.
2 Cf. the enlargements shown on Plates VI to VIII of Oak Tree Coinage.
3 Colonial Entry Book, Vol. LXI, p. 218. Crosby, pp. 86–87.
4 Crosby, p. 78.


There are two hoards which are recorded with some degree of dependability. The first was found in Roxbury in 1863. This hoard contained twenty-eight pieces and was acquired intact by W. Elliot Woodward, a Boston coin-dealer. It was described in his catalogue of the McCoy Collection (1864, lot 1640) and offered as a single lot with an upset price of $150.00 and withdrawn in the absence of a bid. In his next sale, the following year, the coins were offered without restriction and brought a total which was close to one hundred dollars. Had the hoard been preserved intact, helpful deductions would have been possible in all probability. An account of the finding was printed in The Historical Magazine for October, 1863, from which the following is taken:

"A few weeks since Geo. Wilber Reed, a little son of Geo. P. Reed, Esq., of this city, when climbing up a bank, through which a new street had recently been cut, to aid his ascent put his hand into a crevice by the side of a rock; on withdrawing his hand his attention was attracted by a piece of metal, which on examination he found to be a Pine Tree Shilling, with two other coins adhering. The boy of course continued "prospecting" until the "lead" was exhausted, and at the conclusion of his digging was rewarded by finding in his possession no less than twenty-eight pieces, comprising all the denominations of the Pine Tree money, all of the common types with a single exception.

"..... That the coins were not lost prior to 1662 is proved by the fact that several two-penny pieces of that date were found amongst them, while the fine condition of the pieces, coupled with the circumstances that no Spanish or other coins were with them, indicate that they were lost when the Mint was in its palmy days, and when the Pine Tree money was almost or quite the only currency in circulation in New England, say, between 1662 and 1685."

In this hoard, sixteen coins were Oak and twelve Pine Tree issues. We are able to identify one of the Pine Tree shillings (our No. 11), and possibly a second (No. 3 ?). At least one of the remaining shillings was of the small-flan type — possibly all four — the insufficient description prevents certainty. But the presence of the one small-flan shilling enables us to date the burial of the hoard after the small-flan came into use, after about 1675. Were we able to identify the other varieties, we might be able to tell from them whether the loss of these coins took place immediately after the change to the small form or nearer to the cessation of the coinage in 1682.

The second hoard was found at Castine on the coast of Maine in 1840. It was initially studied by Mr. Joseph Williamson.1 A re-study of this hoard2 was one of the results of the loan of this material for an exhibition held in the Museum of the American Numismatic Society in 1942.

The hoard is reported to have contained between four and five hundred pieces. The Massachusetts issues were said to have numbered thirty in one account and fifty to seventy-five in another description of this hoard. Fortunately, a selection of what purported to be one of each several variety contained in the hoard was made by Dr. Joseph L. Stevens of Castine, and this selection of seventeen pieces came ultimately into possession of the Maine Historical Society. There are four Pine Tree varieties. The date deduced for the burial of the deposit was about 1704. The three Pine Tree shillings are our Nos. 2, 25 and 29; there was also a sixpence. Specimens said to be from this hoard occur in auction sale catalogues,3 an indication of the possibility that more of these pieces than we think escaped the melting pot.

At Exeter in October, 1876, a hoard said to have contained thirty to forty Massachusetts shillings was found. A brief paragraph appeared in the American Journal of Numismatics for 1877 (p. 92), and a much more detailed account in the same publication for 1878 (p. 105) is signed C.H.B., probably C. H. Betts. Since many of our readers will not have this reference available, two pertinent paragraphs are appended.

"It was in the process of excavating a cellar under the extension of a store, not far from the railroad station, in Exeter, that the discovery of the coins was made. The Proprietor had given the earth to an Irish laborer, upon the condition that he would take it away. In throwing the sand into a cart, a few of the shillings were disclosed, though their value was not at once realized. The person to whom the earth was given, however, thought it worth his while to examine further the argentiferous soil before "dumping" it, and finally passed it through a sieve, realizing by the process quite a store of the pine-tree pieces. The exact number obtained in all cannot be ascertained, but is believed to be between thirty and forty. The greater part were found by the Irishman, but other persons picked up scattering specimens.

"The remains of what appeared to be a wooden box, much decayed, were detected in the sand; the coins in all probability had been inclosed in it. All the pieces found were shillings of the oak or pine-tree pattern, and bearing the date, of course, of 1652. They were of several varieties, giving evidence, according to an intelligent informant, of at least four distinct dies. The condition of the pieces varied, some being, fine, while others were much worn. The place of deposit has been used as a garden, or door yard, probably, for a couple of centuries. When, by whom, and for what reason the glittering hoard was interred there, must be left to conjecture."

We do not have any detailed record of the contents of this find, but in the Ferguson Haines Sale of October, 1880, there is a statement that the Willow Tree shilling, No. 11 in N. N. & M., No. 102, came from this source.

From Salem in 1737, comes a newspaper report of a find which bears all the marks of gross exaggeration. It was called to my attention by Mr. Chauncey C. Nash who kindly made inquiries in Salem without being able to obtain further information. The paragraph quoted by him comes from the Salem Gazette for July 11/18, 1737. A similarly worded paragraph (with minor differences) appears in the American Journal of Numismatics for 1881 (p. 46) and is repeated (without original spellings) in the same Journal for 1890 (p. 31) with credit to the Boston Weekly News-Letter of July 21st, 1737. Although little more than a statement of place and circumstance is to be gained from this paragraph, it is reprinted below:

"We hear from Salem, that on Friday last William Brown, Esq., the youngest surviving Son of Hon. Col. Brown, deceased, having had Information of some Money conceal'd in a Place which he owned, caused search to be made for the same, where was found five or six Jarrs full of Silver, containing about one thousand ninety-three Ounces of Silver of several Species, among which was about six thousand New-England Shillings, scarcely discolor'd." Boston Weekly News-Letter, July 21, 1737.

Coming from Boothbay Harbor, thirteen miles southeast of Bath, Maine, sometime before September, 1880, a small lot of "Pine Tree" pieces which might have been a part of a hoard is recorded in the Woodward Sale of the Jenks Collection (Sept. 1880), lots 429 to 431. The fifth piece appeared in Woodward's Sale of his own collection (1884, lot 354). The earlier sale under a caption "Treasure Trove" states "the four following pieces were found, quite recently, in a small cave in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. The entire find consisted of five pieces, and the finder, hopeing to secure more, very judiciously keeps secret the exact place of discovery." The entry for the piece in the 1884 sale reads: "1652 Oak-tree Shilling. Found in a little cave with a number of others at Boothbay, Me., where it had lain long under salt water, the action of which reduced its weight nearly one-half. Piece broken from edge." There is little to be learned from the foregoing save that there were two Oak Tree shillings, and that one of the three Pine Tree shillings was a small-flan variety. Assuming that a hoard is represented by these five pieces, it would have been deposited after about 1675.

End Notes

1 Collections of the Maine Historical Society , Vol. VI, 1859, PP. 107–126.
2 S. P. Noe, The Castine Deposit: An American Hoard (Numismatic Notes and Monographs 100).
3 Oak Tree Shilling, Woodward Sale, Mar. 30, 1864, Lot 138 and Pine Tree Shillings, Woodward Sale, Apr. 28, 1863, Lots 1870, 1871, 1873 (small flan) and sale of Oct. 20,1863, Lots 2460, 2467 (6-k).


One of the tragic episodes in the early history of the Bay Colony — the witch frenzy — has an indirect bearing on the coinage we have been studying. A wave of hysteria seems to have swept over the colonists in 1692, centering in Salem although Boston was not unaffected. The cruel punishments after trials that were grossly unjust still bring amazement to anyone who examines the carefully kept records. The epidemic was not confined to the ignorant or illiterate. Cotton Mather attended one of the trials and spoke in justification of the verdict. He also made his opinion clear in print. Judge Samuel Sewall, later Chief Justice, twenty years after made a public confession of penitence for his judicial acts.1

We are told that it was the superstitious belief of the time that wearing a bent coin afforded protection against the power of "witches." Some of our Pine Tree coins show evidence of having once been bent even though as we see them now they have again been flattened. Some show dents which imply that teeth must have been the means of bending them initially. The thinness of the Pine Tree coins made bending an easy operation, and some with holes for suspension may have seen service in the same manner as those which were bent. The Roxbury hoard contained one piece which was described as a witch piece. On Plate VI, a-c, a selection of pieces which are believed to have served as witch pieces are shown.2

End Notes

1 Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, Fifth Ser., V, Boston, 1878, I, 445.
2 It may have been a "witch piece" that we find mentioned in "Mother Goose":There was a crooked manAnd he walked a crooked mileHe found a crooked sixpenceAgainst a crooked stile.


The manner in which these coins were prepared is of interest, but the only evidence I have found is that provided by the coins themselves, and this is frequently clouded by wear and mutilation. A number of the better preserved pieces have edges that are straight for a part of the circumference1 and some of these straight edges have a bevel which implies the use of a chisel or some similar means of having produced that straight edge. But by far the greater portion of these pieces — even those with a straight edge of considerable length — have the most of their perimeter so curved that it could hardly have been formed by chisel cuts. Is it possible that a huge pair of shears might have produced the results we now see ? Trial and error would soon show the size of flan which would give the desired weight, and any excess could be removed by further clipping. The longer straight-edges would be understandable in such a process. There is too much irregularity for thinking that a circular cutting tool such as we use today for making discs or washers could have been used. A hammer blow, once the flan had been placed on a flat surface, would easily have removed any bending incidental to the shearing.

End Notes

1 Plate I, 2; Plate 1, 5; Plate VI, d.


In our monographs devoted to the coinage of the Bay Colony, there has been frequent reference to the workmanship or die-cutting. In a very real sense it has been more like engraving than cutting intaglio such as one would have had for a Greek coin. The contemporaneous European issues such as those of the mother country or Spain, where the artist had to essay portraiture and the intricacies of coats-of-arms, were much more demanding. The tree type was as much engraving as the letters of the inscriptions, and neither produced any great relief on the coins. In the beginning, in all likelihood, this work would have fallen to the lot of Robert Sanderson. There are statements in The History of Lynn 1 that the dies were made by Joseph Jenks of that town, and Crosby2 states that "it is supposed it was he who cut many of the dies for the coinage of this mint." May it not be that the making of the dies did not involve their engraving? Jenks may have made the dies, but there seems no good reason for attributing their engraving or cutting to an iron-founder.

There are notable differences in the forms of the letters as well as errors in spelling that were palpably due to copying. Knowing as we do that Hull had several apprentices, possibly including John Coney who in 1690 engraved the first Massachusetts paper money,3 we need hardly hesitate in concluding that some of the engraving was done by apprentices. The errors in spelling occur rather late (Nos. 11 and 12, obverses), but the uniform spelling MASATHVSETS, with these exceptions, gives some authority to this as an official spelling, notwithstanding the multiplicity of variations which occur in documents, and sometimes in the same document.

The frequency with which we find reversed S's, and N's which have the middle stroke incorrectly cut, shows that either a novice or a careless workman was responsible. ANNO was usually abbreviated to AN, but in the Pine Tree threepences we find ANO. Further we find it omitted in one instance ( Plate V, 34) and then added to a second state of the die with a readjustment of the adjacent letters to equalize the spacing ( Plate V, 35). If the forthrightness which characterizes Hull's letters found vent after the disclosure of such inadvertencies, there must have been times when the mint-house echoed to forceful language.

It must not be thought, however, that such mistakes were common. After mastering the difficulties which made the Willow Tree pieces such poor coins, the inscriptions are exceptional in their excellence, and need no apologist. It is doubtful that anything would be gained through trying to differentiate the workmanship of this or that engraver. The silverware bearing the punches of Hull and Sanderson show little lettered engraving that is not obviously a later addition. For the purpose of establishing the sequence, the numismatic approach through die-combinations and die-breaks is relatively much more dependable.

End Notes

1 Alonzo Lewis and J. R. Newhall, History of Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts ... 1629-1864 (Lynn, 1890).
2 Early Coins of America, p. 80.
3 H. F. Clarke, John Coney, Silversmith, 1655–1722 (Boston and New York City, 1932)> pp. 6 and 9.


One of the reasons given in the records for the change from the NE type to that with "a tree" was the ease with which the NE pieces could be clipped. This may have been foreseeing a condition which had not yet come to pass, but it is strange that no clipped NE coins have come under my observation. Clipped or underweight specimens of the following varieties have been noted and a selection is shown on Plate V.

Willow No.19 American Numismatic Society 53.4
Oak No. 5 Mass. Historical Society 43.4
Oak No. 1 Mass. Historical Society 48.8 Pl. V, a
Pine No. 8 T. James Clarke 36.3
Pine No. 2 C. Wurtzbach 64.4
Pine No. 9 Yale University 46.6 Pl. V, e
Pine No.13 Amer. Numismatic Society (Field) 52.1 Pl. VI, c
Pine No. 1 Amer. Numismatic Society (Field) 44.0
Pine No. 1 William L. Clark 37.1 Pl. V, f
Pine No.30
Pine No.26 Mass. Historical Society 30.4 Pl. V, d
Pine No.17 Mass. Historical Society 42.2
Pine No. 2 American Numismatic Society 73.3
Pine No. 4 Mass. Historical Society 74.4
Pine No. 15 T. James Clarke 74.1

There are other pieces which seem to have been clipped, but which the scales show to be of normal weight. Some pieces have lost a few grains only and these can hardly have suffered this loss by clipping. In addition, we are fortunate in having a clipping from an Oak Tree shilling. This comes from a hoard of clippings found in London. The letters permit identifying it as our No. 1. In some cases, as in this one, clipping has taken the form of removing a segment ( Plate V, c). Others have had a ring of metal removed (Cf. Plate XI, a, b),1 and this procedure is a less obvious reduction of the coin's value. Both large and small flan issues have suffered from this practice, but the larger flan pieces which had undergone circular clipping would have been more easily passed after the small-flan Pine Tree pieces had come into being. A further form of mutilation has been published by H. Alexander Parsons.2 This is a quartering of a Pine Tree shilling ( Plate V, b) which probably occurred in the Leeward Islands of the West Indies where this means of obtaining small denominations for circulation more frequently used Mexican or other coins of Latin America. It is interesting that Mr. Howland Wood whose interest in cut pieces is commemorated in his indispensable monograph on these mutilations, concurred in this explanation. The halved piece from the collection of The Massachusetts Historical Society (No. 26 — Plate V, d) may be another instance of this practice although it may also have been the result of a coin having been bent for wear as a witch piece and broken in the process.

Overweight is rare and is sometimes a valuable hint that the genuineness of a coin is questionable. All weights above the norm recorded have been for Pine Trees.

End Notes

7 Pieces illustrated are: (a) clipping of a shilling of Charles I and (b) clipping of a groat of Henry VI.
2 "A Cut New England Threepence Attributed to the Leeward Islands," British Numismatic Journal, XV (1919–1920), p. 225.


From the space devoted to counterfeits and imitations herein, they may appear to have been given undue prominence, but because some of these fabrications may be dated within fairly close limits and also because the copies are frequently mistaken for the genuine pieces by the uninitiated who have no originals with which to compare them, they are listed with more detail than they deserve.

A, B and C. These pieces are to be dated before 1854 on the evidence of Dr. Ammi Brown's letter.1 The spelling MASSACHUSETS implies that the engraver did not have a genuine piece before him. Moreover, the date shows that the intention must have been either to mystify or to take advantage of the ignorance of some novice.

The source of B and C was the same as for A, and because these pieces betray a knowledge of the Bay Colony's coinage, which, though hardly to be called thorough or competent could not be stigmatized as superficial, we may draw some conclusions from what was selected for imitation. Their fabricator was not concerned with the Oak Tree issues. He was working at a time when Crosby's demonstration that the Oak Tree type preceded the Pine Tree had not yet been published. It seems scarcely credible that the very slight evidence that a coinage was being considered by the officials of the colony before 1652, on the basis of which Crosby and others were willing to give these pieces a hearing, could have been known to the originator. He did not know that the small-flan Pine Tree pieces were the latest in the coinage, but the use of flans for B and C that were smaller than A shows that he was aware that the flans did differ in size. The maker of these coins must have had some numismatic knowledge for the intention seems to have been to offer his product as "patterns." If it had not been for the backing which the respectability of Dr. Ammi Brown afforded, the tale which accounts for the origin of these coins would have been given less credence.

D. It is breaking with tradition to place this coin among the counterfeits, but its many inconsistencies forbid any other course. The heavy inner borders, the clumsy, spindling letters of the inscriptions of both sides and the huge numerals of the reverse dictate this conclusion. The encroaching of the border on the letter L is evidence that the cog-wheel border was cut later than the inscription, something I believe contrary to the practice for the genuine pieces.

E. The weight of this piece and the spelling ENGLAD as well as the metal (copper or bronze) mark this as the work of a bungler. One might say almost as much for F, but as at least three specimens are known and since it is die-struck, it is to be recognized as an attempt to make a fabrication which would mislead, and further specimens may appear.

Since there is no center point for a compass visible, the maker seems not to have known that one was used for the genuine issues. The borders suffer in consequence, not only in not being true circles, but because the beads are not uniform in size.

F is the work of another bungler; the misspellings give it away.

Wyatt's Imitations

My first monograph on the Massachusetts coinage gave such data as I could discover for the work of Thomas Wyatt.2

There is no occasion for repeating most of the information given there. The newspaper references to these productions are dated 1856. Does it not seem probable that the two-hundredth anniversary of the coinage may have been taken as the reason for presuming an interest which might be capitalized ?

Of the eight pairs of dies associated with the name of Wyatt, the only ones bearing the Pine Tree type are the sixpence, threepence and the penny. We do not know why he used an Oak Tree for the shilling rather than a Pine. It may have been merely for the sake of variety. Nor do we know why he chose for the sixpence the less (?) common Pine Tree form. The specimens in copper which appeared in Woodward's first two sales3 are likely to have been the result of the unmasking of the series as counterfeits, that is, by producing additional varieties in another metal.

It will be remembered that the denouncing of Wyatt's counterfeits was based on two conditions of which he was ignorant. The twopence was mistakenly dated 1652, the penny was never struck. In this he was apparently misled by the engraved plate in Joseph B. Felt's An Historical Account of the Massachusetts Currency, published in 1839, or by an earlier English publication, Folkes' Tables of English Silver and Gold Coins printed in 1763. The specimen illustrated by Crosby differs from the others in the collection of the American Numismatic Society.

There is slight occasion for commenting on the threepence and twopence, save to note that Mr. W. L. Clark has discovered a combination of the obverse die of the threepence with the reverse die of the twopence.4 It would not be improbable that a combination of the obverse of the twopence with the reverse of the threepence was in existence although none seems to have been recorded.

The qualities which betray the Wyatt fabrications are their uniform completeness and regularity. If the illustrations on Plates VII and VIII are compared with their prototypes, those differences which in a description seem minor are quickly caught by the eye of anyone familiar with the series. The flatness of these pieces is distinctive. In most cases, they are "too good to be true."

End Notes

2 New England and Willow Tree Coinages, pp. 50–55.
3 Nov. 11, 1862, No. 1359 and Apr. 28,1863, No. 1911.
4 University of Michigan Collection.

End Notes

1 Early Coins of America, p. 63.



1. (Crosby 12-1). MASATHVSETS · IN figure Pine tree, well centered and smaller than those which immediately follow; short ground-line with four hatchings downward to r. beneath. A pellet on either side of the trunk below the branches. The letters of the inscription in size and form are nearer to those on the later issues of the Oak Tree coins ( Plate I, a, b) than to those of the Pine Tree which follow, but the N is correctly engraved as in the earlier group. The encircling borders are formed of short slightly elongated units rather than of beads or pellets. No guide lines for border are visible but the regularity of the circle indicates that the central point has been obliterated in cutting the trunk of the tree. The rosette has seven beads.

Rev. NEWENGLAND:AN:DOM figure The date and numeral are low in the field. The center for describing the borders has been obliterated in cutting the 5. The rosette has nine beads. The W is formed by interlacing two V's. In late stages of the die, a break shows between the first two digits of the date, and another connects the 2 with the inner border (Cf. Plate VI, f AND h). A more pronounced flaw shows in the N of AN. The colons are unusual.

A.N.S. Coll. 4.62 grams, 71.3 grains.

2. (Crosby 4-F). MASATHVSETS Ifigure The tree has a thin ground-line with hatchings below and none of the branches are curved. These branches have hatchings which resemble those on the Pine Tree sixpence ( Plate V, 32), which uses a reverse die shared by the Oak Tree series, as well as those on the recut Oak Tree shilling ( Plate I, b). The beautifully formed letters of the inscription are bold and well-spaced. The N is inverted. The E is unusual in that the middle stroke crosses the upright — so also on the reverse. The form of the A is distinctive. The borders are accurately described — the central point coincides with the trunk of the tree.

Rev. NEWENGLAND · AN · DOM · The date is uncommonly large, filling the central field; the 6 is distinctive. The linear circle for guidance in cutting the inner border is visible at the top and bottom. The N's are normal. The lettering, as on the obverse, is bold.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.52 grams, 69.8 grains.

On this and on several other dies, there is indication of an injury to the die which is communicated to each piece struck from these dies after the damage took place. The probable explanation of the cause of this injury is that force was applied when there was no flan between the two dies in use, with the result that the reverse die was impressed on the obverse and vice versa. The first occurrence of this phenomenon noticed, is to be seen on PL I, 6 of Oak Tree Coinage. It seems to have taken place after the die-flaw between the letters A and N on the reverse had developed — say, at the stage G on P1. II. On No. 1 of the Pine Tree shillings, there are faint traces of the Roman numerals in relief beneath the roots of the tree, and the letter O of the DOM is discernible on some specimens to the left at the edge of the flan and between the letters A and S of MASATHVSETS. In this instance, the injury is not in direct line with its cause (i. e., the section of the reverse at the same clock-position); the dies do not seem to have been in their proper relationship when the damage took place.

3. (Crosby 3-F). Inscription identical in every detail with that of No. 2.1 Pine tree with long branches which curve upward completely filling the field. The entire tree seen in No. 2 has been covered by engraving the larger one with the curved branches. Superimposing enlarged photographs has confirmed the identity of the inscriptions. Rev. Die of No. 2.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.34 grams, 66.9 grains.

4. (Crosby 5-B1). MASATHVSETS Ifigure · The limbs to the left are more regular and fill the space better than those to the right where the second from the base branches at the tip. The lettering is weak and thin; the S's are sleazy, the N is incorrect, the I short and the second T has the serif to the left omitted. The borders are irregular. Rev. NEW · EfigureGLAND · AN · DOM · Die flaw to left of XII and another above the M. The E's are noticeably smaller than the other letters. The first N in ENGLAND is the only one that is incorrectly formed.

F. C. C. Boyd Coll. 4.73 grams, 73.0 grains.

5. (Crosby 5-B2). Die of No. 4, but weakened by use.

Rev. Die of No. 4, but no period between NEW and EfigureGLAND. The first E has been re-engraved. There are further flaws to the left of the date and above the 6. The one over the M now extends from the outer to the inner border. Crosby states (p. 51) that the letters and numerals are recut and the grains of the inner ring enlarged. This is not apparent on the specimens available to me.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.48 grams, 69.2 grains.

6. (Crosby 5a-B2). Die of Nos. 4 and 5 given a separate number to indicate recutting. In the tree, the fourth branch is now connected with the trunk, and the top differs. The borders have been recut — the outer border at the bottom and the inner at ten o'clock. Some of the letters have been modified, especially the second S and the I (enlarged). The die is injured at the top and the border at that point recut.

Rev. Die of No. 5 with flaws showing further enlargement.

The American Numismatic Society. 4.66 grams, 71.9 grains.

7. (Crosby 7-B3). MASATHVSETS · IN · Pine tree with top touching the border; the ground-line higher and with more than usual hatching to left of the trunk. The second S is incomplete. The M is in line with the tree trunk. The outer border bulges at the top.

Rev. Die of Nos. 4, 5 and 6. The flaw in the left field visible in No. 4 has now been eliminated. The 6 of the date has been enlarged and the recutting has modified the 5. A die crack extends from the inner border at the top, across the date and numeral, and passes through the M to the outer border.

The American Numismatic Society 4.65 grams, 71.8 grains.

Establishing the order for Nos. 8–10, Crosby's dies 1-c and 1–d, requires having a large number of specimens for comparisons. A single obverse die is combined with two differing reverses, Crosby c and d. Our Plate shows that No. 8 (Crosby 1b) is the earlier — it has been recut to form No. 10 (Crosby 1a). Crosby's order, therefore, must be reversed. This conclusion also changes his ordering for the two reverses. One of these (Crosby's d) is combined solely with the earlier state of the obverse and must, therefore, precede the second (Crosby c) which comes into use with the later recut obverse (Crosby 1a). The order thus established is No. 8 (Crosby 1b-D), No. 9 (Crosby 1b-c), No. 10 (Crosby 1a-c).

8. (Crosby 1b-D). MASATHVSETS · Ifigure · Pine tree with trunk outlined rather than solid or modelled. Short ground-line with die flaw beneath. Border of beads rather than the oval units of the preceding Pine Tree issues. The earliest state of this die shows the inner border complete. There follows a stage in the life of the die when three of the beads are missing below the second S of the inscription (at one o'clock). The cause of this seems to be the die flaw on the reverse directly opposite this part of the die,2 which as the flaw progresses and becomes deeper, prevents the metal being forced into the obverse die at this point. In the next state, No. 9, these 'missing' beads are replaced by smaller ones.

Rev. figureWENGLAND · ANDOM · The joining of the first two letters and the connection of the second A with the serif of the following N are distinctive. The earliest state of the die is shown on Plate II; later stages show the development of flaws which unite the G and L as well as the O and M ( Plate VI, e). They grow until they affect the obverse, as has been noted. The 5 of the date has its top element unusually curved. The borders are true circles of heavy elongated units.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.54 grams, 79.1 grains.

9. (Crosby 1b-c). In the later stages of this die (No. 8), whether because of wear or because of doctoring the letter at the top, the tree is weak and this portion is seldom forced up into the die. The letters H, V and S are thickened — apparently by recutting, and some of the other letters may have been deepened.

Rev. NEW · EfigureGLAND · AN · DOM · A period follows the W; the small G and the incorrect second N differentiate this die. The border units are elongated. A small flaw to the left of X develops gradually.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.55 grams, 70.2 grains.

10. (Crosby 1a-c). Die of No. 8. The tree is entirely re-engraved with straight ground-line and enlarged roots. The V and S at the top have been repaired.

Rev. Die of No. 9 — a later state.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.70 grams, 72.6 grains.

11. (Crosby 2a-A1). MASATVSETS · Ifigure · The omission of the H is the distinguishing mark for this die. The letters are noticeably smaller than in the preceding dies. The first A with its thick second stroke, and the V with its first element disproportionately heavy, are distinctive. The borders are fairly regular, but the inner one has strange slightly smaller flecks at several points. The tree begins to show the form of those of the later thick-flan issues.

Rev. figureEWEfigureGLAfigureD AfigureDOM Note the omission of punctuation and the incorrect form of all four of the N's. The initial digit of the date is shorter than usual and the 5 distinctive. The borders are fairly regular — the outer one is rarely found completely on the flan.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.66 grams, 71.9 grains.

12. (Crosby 6-k). MASASTHVSETS⁘Ifigure⁘ Scrawny tree with straight, thick trunk and short branches, the lowest of which are further from the base than in any other variety. The inner border is a true circle of heavy but evenly spaced beads uniform in size. The letters of the inscription are small and like those of No. 11, with which it also shares the peculiarity of having the N's reversed.


Rev. figureEW ∴EfigureGLAfigureD∴Afigure:DO: Both borders are regular and formed of beads of uniform size. The inner one is smaller than any yet found on the Pine Tree series and shows the trend towards the following group with smaller flans. The outer border is sufficiently reduced to show almost completely on the flan, whereas for the obverse only a tiny section of the outer border is visible. The first two letters of the inscription are crowded and all N's are incorrect. The illustrated piece is in the collection of E. P. Newman; the one illustrated in Crosby seems to be another specimen. Cf. the note in the Historical Magazine, Oct. 1863, stating that this piece was unique and that it had come from the Castine Deposit. This piece sold in Woodward Sale for Oct. 1863, lot 2467.3

E. P. Newman Coll. 4.01 grams, 62.0 grains.

13. (Crosby 9-G).... THVSETS I Punctuation not discernible. Tree with six pairs of branches slightly curved. The tapering trunk is unusually thick at the ground-line which shows hatchings to r. and 1. The letters of the inscription are large, but well-formed; the H is unusually wide and the I double-cut. The inner border has elongated units which are not uniform in size.

Rev.....NGLAND · A.... All four digits of the date are large. Of the Roman numerals, the X is larger and the second I shorter than the other two figures. As in No. 12, the inscription begins at 5 o'clock. The only specimen known to me is in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society. It has been clipped and weighs 3.08.

Massachusetts Historical Society. 3.08 grams, 47.6 grains.

14. (Not in Crosby). (MA)SATHVSETS (IN) — The punctuation not discernible. This reading is obtained by combining the data on two worn and clipped specimens in the collection of Yale University — the only pieces known to me. The heavy trunk of the tree and the curvature of the branches mark the trend toward the thick-flan issues. In size, the visible letters are like those of Nos. 1 to 10 rather than No. 11. The inscription is normal as to its beginning point. Rev. (NEW) ENGLAND · AN · DO(M) · The digits of the date resemble those of Nos. 4–6. The Roman numerals are large and heavy. The beginning point for the inscription is apparently five o'clock, which, up to this point, is unusual. Both specimens clipped; the weights are 3.03 and 3.02.

Yale University. 3.03 grams, 46.8 grains.

15. (Crosby 24-N). MASATHVSETSfigureINfigure Pine tree with lower branches slightly curved, those on the r. longer than those on the 1. Tree like that of No. 11. The letters of the inscription for No. 11 are of reduced height as compared with those which precede and follow, and closely similar in size to those on this die. The interval before IN is exceptionally wide. The borders have oblong units. The scale of the tree and of the inscription are reduced in consonance with the reduced size of the flan. There is a tiny die flaw beneath the lowest branch to the r.

Rev. NEWENGLAND · AN · DO · Date high in the field — the 5 distinctive. The Roman numerals are widely spaced and badly formed; the second I shows modification at its base. The central point for describing the borders shows above the first I. The L of the inscription is lower than the letters which precede and follow, and its serif joins that of the A. The interval between N and D (at one o'clock) is excessive. The weakness at four o'clock is common to all specimens. Periods (rather than rosettes as on the obverse) are used for punctuation.

F. C. C. Boyd Coll. 4.48 grams, 69.2 grains.

16. (Crosby 21-L). MASATHVSETS figure IN figure The I is unduly thick owing to a flaw. The tips of the second and third branches to the left of the trunk show a progressive defect in many of the specimens in the later stages of the die. The borders have elongated units more closely spaced than on No. 15.

Rev. NEWENGLAND · AN · DO · Inscription begins at eight o'clock. Date and numerals are high on the flan — the I's of the XII have been double-cut, and the serifs of the shorter and earlier forms are discernible on most specimens. The distinctive mark for this die is the flattening of the inner border at the top, beginning at the first digit of the date. The W is noticeably enlarged; the N's are badly formed.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.63 grams, 71.5 grains.

17. (Crosby 22-L). Inscription as for No. 16. The central point for describing the borders shows on the trunk of the tree. Many specimens show only part of the outer border. The second upright stroke of the H seems to have been altered or recut. A flaw at the N develops fairly early in the life of the die.

Rev. Die of No. 16.

F. C. C. Boyd Coll. 4.54 grams, 70.1 grains.

18. (Crosby 23-L). MASATHVSETSfigureINfigure The pine tree shows a flaw at the right near the top; the crossed root-hatchings are distinctive. The N of the inscription is faulty. The units of the inner circle are uneven in size. A faint die crack shows at the first S, extending to the base of the tree, while a second is to be seen between T and S. Rev. Die of Nos. 16–17, but with beginning die-breaks showing.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.62 grams, 71.3 grains.

19. (Crosby 20-L). MASATHVSETS figure IN figure Only the two lower branches are paired. The first S of the inscription is distinctive; the V is heavier than usual. The units of the inner border vary slightly in size (below the tree-base).

Rev. Die of Nos. 16–18, but die-flaws show development above the last N and the O, and another through the first period is now visible. A new die crack extends from the outer border to the top of the E in NEW.

F. C. C. Boyd Coll. 4.20 grams, 64.8 grains.

20. (Crosby 18-L). MASATHVSETS figure IN figure Four limbs of the tree are paired. A die flaw extends from the left end of the ground-line of the tree through the first S of the inscription. Other flaws show be- tween the H and V, the T and the final S, and a fourth connects the top of the N with the outer border.

Rev. Die of Nos. 16–19. The flaws noted in No. 18 are larger.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.60 grams, 71.0 grains.

21. (Crosby 17-L). The inscription is as for No. 20. The H is smaller than the other letters. The inner border is smaller and heavier than in No. 20 and in this regard, as well as in the compactness of the tree, more closely resembles No. 19. A large die-flaw obscures the second rosette and another flaw interrupts the outer border at five o'clock (Cf. Plate VI, g). The obverse of the piece illustrated by Crosby comes from an earlier state of the die. The limbs of the tree are paired with the exception of the third.

Rev. Die of Nos. 16–20. The die flaws of Nos. 19 and 20 show further development and enlargement, but the flaw on No. 22 between the G and L is not to be seen here. This state must therefore be intermediate, and since both Nos. 21 and 22 are known in relatively few specimens, must have come close to the end of the life of the die.

The American Numismatic Society. 4.57 grams, 70.5 grains.4

22. (Crosby 16-L). MASATHVSETS figure IN figure The tree has five pairs of branches and a straight ground-line with hatching uniformly to the left. The lettering, squatty but regular, is without other peculiarity. Rev. Die of Nos. 16–20. The previously noted flaws are enlarged; an additional one shows between G and L.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.50 grams, 69.5 grains.

23. (Crosby 16-M). Die of No. 22.

Rev. NEVVENGLAND · AN · DO · The W is formed by repeating V's. The N's have given the engraver trouble. The first three letters of ENGLAND are crowded — the G is higher than it should be.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.57 grams, 70.6 grains.

24. (Crosby 23-M). Die of No. 18.

Rev. Die of No. 23 with flaws developed.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.33 grams, 66.8 grains.

25. (Crosby 16-o). Die of No. 22 and No. 23, but showing greater wear, especially at first rosette.

Rev. NEVVENGLAND · AN · DO · The first and last digits of the date are heavy and the 2 is distinctive in form. The central point for describing the borders is heavier than usual. The W, as in No. 23, is formed of two V's. The N's show variations. Faint die cracks at the bottom of the die.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.55 grams, 70.2 grains.

26. (Crosby 15-o). MASATHVSETS⸭INfigure Inscription as heretofore save that the first rosette has five beads and the second, seven. The beads of the inner border crowded (at three o'clock). The first A has a slanting cross-piece, the second is filled in. The branches of the tree are evenly paired. The trunk is thicker below the center of the die than above it. The second upright of the N has been lengthened.

Rev. Die of No. 25, with slightly enlarged die cracks.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.75 grams, 73.3 grains.

27. (Crosby 18-Q). Die of No. 20, with break at top of tree further developed.

Rev. NEWENGLAND·AN·DO Excessive spacing between the 6 and 5 of the date. The X has a pigeon-toed appearance. The large, thin letters of the inscription are in contrast to those of the obverse — they more nearly resemble those which came at the end of the thin-flan Pine Tree shillings (Nos. 13 and 14). The inner border has heavy units. A die break obscures what seems to be a colon preceding AN.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.41 grams, 68.1 grains.

28. (Crosby 19-Q). MASATHVSETS⁘INfigure Pine tree distinguished by its three pairs of double-curved branches, and straight groundline with hatching to r. The H and V shorter than the other letters.

Rev. Die of No. 27.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.45 grams, 68.7 grains.

29. (Crosby 14-R). MASATHVSETS⁘IN⁘ The rosettes are formed of four beads. The inscription in small, well-formed letters, the N smaller than the others. The M is recut — apparently to lessen the contrast with the A and S following, which even with this alteration are comparatively small. The lowest branch of the tree is distinctively curved upward.

Rev. NEW:ENGLAND:AN:DO: Date and numerals high. The X is as in No. 27. Colons are used instead of rosettes or periods. Placing one of these after NEW is contrary to the previous usage. The pellets of the colon preceding AN have coalesced. All the N's are small. The inner border with elongated units is not a true circle.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.81 grams, 74.3 grains.

30. (Crosby 13-s). MASATHVSETS⁘IN⁘ The rosettes have four beads. The rather scrawny Pine Tree has a trunk of almost uniform thickness from bottom to top. The units of the inner border are unequal in thickness. The die is larger than the flan and only rarely shows any part of the outer border.

Rev. NEWENGLANDA∴AN∴DO∴ The 5 of the date is S-like; the 2 crowds the inner border. The rosettes have three beads. The inner border with heavy, elongated units set close together, like that of No. 29, is not a true circle.

F. C. C. Boyd Coll. 4.57 grams, 70.6 grains.

31. (Crosby 8-E). MASATH..ETS IN Heavy-branched tree set high in the field. This badly clipped and worn piece shows only the bases of some of the letters. It is the only specimen known and was formerly in Crosby's collection. The lower element of the E is exceptionally long. The inner border has widely spaced units. The form of the rosettes is not discernible.

Rev. Only the last two digits of the date visible. The E is like that of the obverse. The units of the inner border are carelessly spaced. Punctuation indeterminable.

Massachusetts Historical Society. 2.36 grams, 36.4 grains.

End Notes

1 This condition was a discovery of Mr. W. L. Clark.
2 Cf. Plate VI, e.
3 Cf. variety with MASSASTHVSETS in W. E. Woodward Sales, Dec. 1865, lot 1598 and Dec. 1866, lot 996. This questionable variety can hardly be 6-k which Woodward described in his Oct. 1863 sale.
1 The only other specimen known of this variety is reproduced on Plate III, 21a from Crosby, PI. II, 11.


32. (Crosby 2 – Oak D). MASATHVSET(· IN): figure> : Pine Tree having curved ground-line (with crossed hatchings beneath) and four pairs of branches, each with spines or needles on both sides. The second A is low and there is a wide interval between it and the following T, which is tilted to the right. The form of the second stop, whether rosette or colon, is not discernible on the specimens available. The combination of rosette and colon at the end of the inscription is not duplicated elsewhere in the coinage.

Rev. Die of Oak Tree 20–22. (N. N. & M., No. 110, p. 20.)1

F. C. C. Boyd Coll. 2.17 grams, 33.5 grains.

33. (Crosby 1-A). MASATHVSETS · IN · Pine Tree with four pairs of branches resembling No. 28 (Crosby 14-R) in the curve of the lower limbs. A pellet on either side of the trunk. The E encroaches on the inner border, as does also the N.

Rev. NEWENGLAND · ANO · In the field, 1652 and VI. The date is similar in form to that of No. 28. A die crack barely visible in its earlier stages, starts from the top of the V, shows between the first and second digits of the date and extends to the inner border below the second E. The flans are rarely large enough to accommodate the entire die-impress.

F. C. C. Boyd Coll. 2.20 grams, 33.9 grains.

33a. Nearly complete legend on obverse, advanced die-break on reverse.

T. James Clarke Coll. 2.06 grams, 31.8 grains.

End Notes

1 Oak Tree No. 20 (A.N.S. Coll., 2.21 grams, 34.1 grains) is illustrated for comparison on Plate V, a.


34. (Crosby 1-A1). MASATHVSETS · Pine Tree with a pellet on either side of the trunk as in No. 33. The branches curve downward as they join the trunk. The inscription begins at twelve o'clock.

Rev. NEWENGLAND · In the field, 1652 and III. The inscription begins at eleven o'clock. The first N is large and the E small. The flans are seldom large enough to accommodate the die-impress.

T. James Clarke Coll. 1.13 grams, 17.5 grains.

35. (Crosby 1-A2). Die of No. 34.

Rev. NEWENGLANfigure · ANO Die of No. 34 with ANO added. In making this addition, the D of ENGLAND has been recut and reversed in the process, and the A also shows part of the earlier as well as a corrected form. The N is smaller than in the first state of the die. The 5 of the date is poorly formed; the horizontal stroke at the top is lacking. The 2, apparently recut, is excessively large, whereas on the earlier state it is nearer the size of the other digits. Diameter of the borders, 17 mm. and 10 mm., respectively.

T. James Clarke Coll. 1.05 grams, 16.2 grains.

36. (Crosby 2a-B). MASATHVSETS figure Pine Tree with three pairs of branches. The trunk is set slightly to the left of the vertical axis of the oval inner border. The rosette is formed of nine beads.

Rev. NEWENGLAND figure. The lower serifs unite NE and LAN; the serif of the second E projects upward. The flans usually accommodate the design.

T. James Clarke Coll. 1.09 grams, 16.8 grains.

37. (Crosby b-B). Die of No. 36. The H recut — it is now smaller. A bad die break obscures the second A.

Rev. Die of No. 36.

T. James Clarke Coll. 1.71 grams, 26.4 grains.



A. (Crosby Fig. 20, page 63.) MASSACHVSETS · IN · A spindling tree with double ground-line and with short branches bearing "blobs" to represent cones. The units of the inner border form a crude oval and are not uniform in size; they are somewhat larger than those of the outer border. A guide line for the outer border shows clearly. Four S's instead of three mark this die and do not occur elsewhere in the coinage. The "periods" of the inscription are unusual.

Rev. NEW-ENGLAND*AN · DO* The date, 1650 (sic) is separated from the Roman numerals by a horizontal line. The beads of the borders are larger than those on the obverse, and the guide line for the outer border is clearly discernible. The letters of the inscription are unequal in height. The workmanship throughout is crude. Die struck.

Crosby devotes four pages to this and the next-described counterfeits, quoting a letter from Dr. Ammi Brown, a collector of his day, which establishes that this fabrication was in existence by 1854. He comments on the slightness of any expectation of profit from the making of dies for such a piece, in view of the small interest in the entire coinage at that time. The variety used as a pattern for the tree seems to have been our No. 2 (Crosby 4F). None of the Pine Tree coins has its reverse inscription beginning at two o'clock as this one does, nor does any have such punctuation as occurs here. The divergence in weights is in itself sufficient to condemn these pieces. The only other die whose reverse inscription does begin as here, is the Oak Tree No. 3 (Crosby 9-G). Evidently, the intent was to produce a "rarity."

Whoever cut this and the two following dies dated 1650 probably conceived them as patterns for the coinage authorized in 1652. The tree forms given them did not appear until late in the coinage for the Bay Colony — near its end for B. Dr. Ammi Brown's letter does seem to "protest too much." A statement in the catalogue of the Sale of A. M. Woodward's collection in 1884 (No. 347, p. 21) supplies what may have been the name of the vendor Getchell, withheld by Crosby at Dr. Brown's request, although there is no direct suggestion in the letter that Getchell was the engraver or die-cutter. Boscawen, given as the address of Getchell, is a small town sixteen miles from Concord. Three of the pieces obtained from Getchell at a low cost were sold by Dr. Brown to Joseph C. Mickley for one hundred dollars each. One of the three was a variety of the piece we have called A1, which had had the inscription altered from MASSACHVSETS to MASSATHVSETS. It is the specimen illustrated on Plate VII, A2. Neither form occurs among the genuine issues.

Crosby rightly rejects all three varieties as spurious. His printing of Dr. Brown's lengthy letter gave undue prominence to the provenience of these coins. When confronted with genuine Pine Tree pieces, they are to be condemned on the basis of workmanship, weight and fabric but most of all because of the impossible date which they bear.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.73 grams, 73.0 grains.

Ex Mickley, Bushnell, Parmalee, Granberg and Charles Clapp Collections.

B. MASATHVSETS ⁘ IN ∴ The inscription begins at five o'clock. Small pine tree with three pairs of branches. For the tree, our No. 1 (Crosby 12-1) seems to have been taken for its prototype, although the size is nearer that of the thick-flan form. The letters of the inscription are unequal in height. The second rosette is poorly cut. Rev. NEWENGLAND: AN DO: Colon omitted between AN and DO. In the field, 1650 and XII. The 6 of the date resembles that of No. 2 (Crosby 4F) although the placing of the date is different.

From the letter of Dr. Ammi Brown, we learn that this piece was probably the work of the perpetrator of A.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.98 grams, 76.9 grains.

Ex Mickley, Bushnell, Parmalee and Charles Clapp Collections.

C. MASATHVSETS ⁘ IN ⁘ The Pine Tree has four pairs of straight branches and the form of the thick flan issues. The beads of the inner border are large and regular. The first S of the inscription is unduly small.

Rev. NEWENGLAND · AN · DO · High in the central field, 1650 and XII. The final digit is mistakenly described in Dr. Brown's letter as having been altered from a 2.

F. C. C. Boyd Coll. 3.68 grams, 56.8 grains.

Ex Collection Dr. Shurtleff, (Cf. Woodward Sale, Oct. 26, 1881, 1708 and July 24, 1884, 347), DeWitt Smith and Brand.

D. (Crosby 10-P). MASATHVSETS · IN · Commonly known as the cogwheel shilling. This specimen is the only one known. It was included by Crosby, and found a place in such important collections as the McCoy, Mickley, Newcomb, Clapp and Wurzbach. The nickname is derived from the heavy inner borders of both obverse and reverse, which are not like any others in this entire coinage. The tree is not markedly different from other large-flan Pine Tree shillings, it seems to have copied that of No. 3. The letters of the inscription follow precedent with reasonable closeness, except for the periods which are heavy. The M is clumsy and the second S upside down. The outer border is light and entirely different from the inner one, although very little shows on the flan for either obverse or reverse.

Rev. NEWENGLAND · AN · DO · The date and numerals are a little larger than usual. The 5 is different in form; the XII is large in scale and its letters are very thin. Their placement in the field is "offkey" As on the obverse, the inscription periods are large and heavy. The heavy inner cog-wheel border intercepts the L at the top, indicating that the "beads" were cut after the inscription, again contrary to practice. The coin has been considered questionable by many, and is here treated as a fabrication. Its presence in the McCoy Sale (1864) dates it before that year. The weight slightly exceeds the norm.

T. James Clarke Coll. 4.81 grams, 74.3 grains.

E. MASA(TH)VSETS figure IN figure Struck in bronze. Pine Tree with solid trunk placed to the right of the vertical axis. The inner border is of elongated units unequal in size. Lettering and rosettes weak. No outer border visible. Very irregular edges of the die at lower left.

Rev. NE(W E)NGLAD (sic) figure AN · DO figure Omission of the N in ENGLAD is the distinctive characteristic. Inner border composed of units reminding of cog-wheel variety (D). The circle accurately described, the units regular in size. Rosettes of seven and six beads, respectively. The date is excessively large. Said to have come from England. Not in Crosby.

T. James Clarke Coll. 6.98 grams, 107.7 grains.

F. MAϨATHVϨETϨ · IN · Pine Tree with curved branches, thick twisted trunk and wide ground-line with pronounced hatchings for the roots. The beads of both borders weak and unequal in size, unlike those on genuine specimens. The inner border is very light at the lower right. Note the reversed S's of the inscription and the incomplete A. The second stroke of the V is doubled.

Rev. NEWENGLAND · ANDOM · Border units like those of obverse. The W is formed by closely interlacing two V's. The 6 of the date is like that of No. 2 (Crosby 4F). The weights of four known specimens vary between 70.2 and 72.2 grains.

F. C. C. Boyd Coll. 4.55 grams, 70.2 grains.

G. MASATMVS TS IN ⁘ The Pine Tree remotely resembles that of No. 1 (Crosby 12-1). The flan is of the reduced size of the final group (Nos. 14–30). The borders form true circles and have beads which are equal in size. Of the inscription, the first A is double-cut and M is mistakenly engraved for H. The visible rosette has four beads.

Rev. NEW.NGEFD · · AN figure DO ∴. The 2 of the date is reversed. The X of the Roman numerals is nearly twice the height of the I's. The inner border is not continuous; the outer crowds the inscription. The American Numismatic Society Coll. 4.65 grams, 71.8 grains.

H. (Crosby 11-H; described but not illustrated by him). "The lower branch at the left is very near the ground; the trunk is crooked. Four heavy roots left of the trunk below, and two above the ground at right, point to the right. The legend on this variety is enclosed in a plain ring, not beaded. Punctuated with a point and a group of seven. This may be an early counterfeit." The unbeaded border is distinctive.

Rev. Crosby's Table shows punctuation of inscription like that of No. 1. The inner border (large, round beads) has a diameter greater than that of any other variety recorded by him. Whereabouts unknown.

I. (Crosby 25-T). Described but not illustrated by Crosby. An engraving of the piece may be seen in the supplementary plate (XX) to Dickeson's American Numismatic Manual where it is described as being in the collection of Dr. Augustus Shurtleff of Brookline, Mass. (reproduced on Plate VIII). At the sale of this collection (by W. E. Woodward, April 28, 1863, lot 1876), it was acquired by Charles I. Bushnell. In the sale of his collection, June 20,1882, it was lot 176, and is there described as a struck piece that has had both letters and tree tooled. Part of the legend is characterized as "weak" and "indecipherable," and "unique ?" is added. Its present whereabouts is unknown to me. Crosby describes it: "Branches (5) all in pairs, curving parallel, full of fine leaves; the trunk tapers from the ground to the top; the legend is not distinct, but probably is MASSATVSETS · IN · This piece has a modern appearance and its genuineness is doubted."

Rev. Dickeson's illustration gives the inscription as NEW ENGLAND. Note the distinctive omission of AN DO. Crosby gives the diameter of the inner border as the same as for our No. 6; the outer border is the smallest listed by him. Apparently, the flan is the size of the small-flan issues. Variety with MASSASTHVSETS which is described in the Jenks Sale, 1866, lot 996, and which is probably the coin from the W. E. Woodward Sale, Dec. 1865, lot 1598. This can hardly be 6-k, since Woodward described it in his Oct. 1863 sale, and therefore would not confuse the two varieties.

J. Sixpence with inscription as on No. 32. Pine Tree with short, curved ground-line, and four pairs of branches, the upper two of which are very short. The inner border of small regular beads is flattened at the bottom; the outer border generally shows.

Rev. NEWENGLAND · ANO · The 5 of the date is unusually large. Both E's of the inscription are small, the W is poorly formed, the O is flattened and the crosspiece of the second A is low. The inner border, which is also flattened at the bottom, has beads which are unevenly spaced. Both specimens known to me are overweight — a. 46.0 grams, b. 45.4 grams.

T. James Clarke Coll. 2.94 grams, 45.4 grains.

K. Threepence with MASATHUSETS ∴ (IN omitted). Crudely formed tree with three pairs of branches. Borders of disproportionately heavy beads.

Rev. NEW ENGLAND ∴ The date is high in the field and the heavily-beaded borders are not true circles.

T. James Clarke Coll. 1.15 grams, 17.8 grains.

Wyatt's Fabrications

L. Sixpence. Inscription as for No. 33, of which this is an excellent copy. The tree is better centered than in the prototype—the pellets on either side of the trunk are omitted. Both borders are regular and complete.

Rev. Accurate copy of No. 33. The 5 of the date is not very successful. The N's are oversized and the W better formed than on the original. Both borders complete.

The American Numismatic Society Coll. 2.18 grams, 33.6 grains.

M. Threepence. Nearer to No. 36 (Crosby 2a-B) than to No. 35, although there is a resemblance to some of the later shillings in the tree form. Rev. Copy of the reverse of No. 36. Die-break below the first digit of the date. The rosette has seven beads as compared with nine of the original.

The American Numismatic Society Coll. 1.14 grams, 17.6 grains.

N. A combination of the obverse of M with the reverse of the Wyatt Oak Tree twopence.

University of Michigan Coll.

O. Penny. ..SATHVS...... Scrawny tree with heavy ground-line, two branches to the left and two to the right. The inner border (not a true circle) is of disproportionately heavy beads. Only part of the inscription is on the flan; apparently it begins at eight o'clock.

Rev. ..... GLA.. 1652 and I. The inscription begins at eight o'clock. The inner border has heavy beads.

TheAmericanNumismatic SocietyColl. 0.38 grams, 5.9grains. ( Plate VII,O).

0.45 grams, 7.0 grains. ( Plate VII, P).


X. Fairly accurate copy of No. 9 (Crosby 1b-D). The horizontal diameter of the inner circle is 17 mm; that of the outer (vertically) 18 mm.

Rev Copy of inscription of No. 9 with the beginning slightly higher on the flan. An inner border, surrounding the date, bears the words FACSIMILE · PINE · TREE · SHILLING · INTERNATIONAL · STERLING · The weight of the specimen in the American Numismatic Society collection is 7.23 grams (111.6 grains); that in the Massachusetts Historical Society collection, 7.65 grams (118.1 grains).

Y. Reproduction of No. 17 (Crosby 23-L), with an added outer border making the diameter of the flan 31 mm. The inscription on the outer border completes that begun on the reverse, and reads IN WHAT IS NOW THE UNITED STATES.

Rev. Accurate copy of the reverse of No. 17 (Crosby die L); with close following of such details as the enlarged W and the omitted beads of the inner border just below that letter. The inscription of the outer border reads THE FIRST SILVER COIN ISSUED. This reproduction was issued by Thomas L. Elder. The piece illustrated is of white metal and the weight is 6.51 grams (100.4 grains).

Massachusetts Historical Society specimen.

Z. MASATHVSETS · IN ⁘. Pine Tree in a circle of uniformly spaced beads, 23 mm. in diameter. Outer rim milled (diameter 37.5 mm.). The pine tree resembles that of No. 1 (Crosby 12–1).

Rev. NEWENGLAND:AN:DOM figure. Occupying the central field in three lines IV / SHILLING / 1652. Diameter of the inner border 25 mm.

The specimen in the collection of the American Numismatic Society is in the form of a locket and is believed to have been sold at the Columbian World's Fair (1892–3).

This denomination, of course, was never issued by the Bay Colony. It was never intended to mislead and is in the nature of a commemorative issue.