Rare New England Silver Shilling Expected to Fetch $300,000

The finest example of the first coin struck in early New England, a silver shilling with a face value of mere pennies when it was minted, was recently discovered in England and is expected to fetch about $300,000 when it’s auctioned off in late November. 

The rudimentary coin, minted in Boston in 1652, has been graded the highest quality of approximately 40 such coins known to exist. It was recently discovered in a candy tin containing hundreds of old coins, according to auctioneer Morton & Eden Ltd. 

Source: Morton & Eden Ltd.

“I could hardly believe my eyes when I realized that it was an excellent example of a New England shilling, struck by John Hull in 1652 in Boston for use as currency by early settlers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony,” said auctioneer James Morton.

Hull and his assistant Robert Sanderson were appointed Boston mintmaster in 1652 by the Massachusetts General Court, giving them authority to create North America’s first silver coinage. King Charles II viewed the mint to be treasonous and had it shut down in 1682, according to Morton & Eden.

The shillings were produced using puncheons—hammering tools—rather than in a press. The coin is marked “NE” on obverse and “XII” on reverse. It is graded MS61. (Numerical grades for uncirculated coins range from Mint State 60 to Mint State 70.) 

A descendent of William Wentworth, an early settler in New England, discovered the coin in a candy tin at the family’s estate in northern England.

“I can only assume that the shilling was brought back from America years ago by one of my forebears,” said Wentworth Beaumont who consigned the coin to the auctioneer.

Morton & Eden will conduct the auction on November 26 beginning at 10 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, and it may be viewed at www.invaluable.com.