An exceptionally rare coin, whose face value was minted in the mid-17th century, could sell for the equivalent of nearly $300,000 in New England when it was put up for auction in London the following month.
A silver shilling coin minted in Boston in 1652—considered the finest example of the approximately 40 such coins still known—was recently found inside a candy tin containing hundreds of vintage coins in the United Kingdom, according to an auctioneer. Morton & Eden Limited, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Auctioneer’s coin specialist James Morton called the New England coin “the star of the collection.”
He said in a statement, “I could hardly believe my eyes when I realized it was a classic example of the New England shilling, which was used in Boston in 1652 by John Hull as currency by early settlers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. I was killed to use it.”
The Massachusetts General Court appointed Hull and his assistant Robert Sanderson as Boston Mintmasters in 1652, responsible for the production of North America’s first silver coins. According to the statement, the mint, considered a traitor by King Charles II, was closed in 1682.
A rare 17th-century shilling coin is on display at the Morton & Eden Limited auction house in London atop a metal box containing other coins. (Photo courtesy of Morton & Eden Ltd.)
The coin of the rudimentary design has the NE for New England on one side and the Roman numeral XII on the other, the number of pennies in a shilling.
Jim Bailey, a coin expert and metal detectorist in Warwick, Rhode Island, who caused a sensation earlier this year by unearthing 17th-century silver coins that were linked to the infamous English pirate Henry Avery, who was known for the UK shilling Called “an unprecedented discovery”.
“The coin has tremendous eyes,” Bailey said on Wednesday. “Since there are only about 40 such coins in existence, this specimen can be called the best known.”
The coin was given to the auctioneer by Wentworth “Venti” Beaumont, whose father found it in tin in his study at the family estate in northern England.
Beaumont’s ancestor, William Wentworth, was an early New England settler who is believed to have arrived in the Colonies in 1636 and possibly received coinage new. The Wentworths became a prominent family in New Hampshire.
“I can only assume that the shilling was brought back to America by one of my ancestors years ago,” Beaumont said in a statement.
The online auction, which includes several other early US coins, is scheduled for November 26.
In Warwick, Rhode Island, William J. Cole contributed to this report.
A metal box containing rare coins at the Morton & Eden Limited auction house in London. (Photo courtesy of Morton & Eden Ltd.)