1776-83 Regulated John Bayley, Portugal 6400 Reis, 1747, KM # 221, NGC VF35. This regulated peca or half Joe, (1776-83 John Bayley Regulated) originally from Portugal, has been clipped, re-edged, plugged, and stamped with the IB goldsmith hallmark. The IB is for regulator John Bayley or possibly Jacob Boelen III. The edge was clipped and remade. It is a pleasing yellow gold with darker toning at the periphery. The plug, which covers the king’s ear, is flat with an oval shape and is raised above the surface of the obverse. It is centered on the reverse where it is round and convex. The initials IB are upside down with a dot between the letters. They are in a rectangular cartouche with rounded corners. The coin weighs 215.6 grains, which is within a half grain of the post-Revolutionary standard of 9dwt or $8.00. The coin shows very light wear more consistent with an XF grade than the VF35 assigned by NGC.
Coins from Brazil, Portugal, Spain, France, and England all circulated concurrently in early America. However, each had a different weight and fineness making trade extremely inconvenient. The problem was first dealt with in colonial times, when coins were “regulated.” This practice continued after Independence. A goldsmith or silversmith would drill a coin and add gold in the form of a plug to increase its weight. If it was then overweight, he would clip and/or file its edge. Thus, coins were “regulated” to certain standards. The plugs that were added were then stamped with a hallmark indentifying the regulator who guaranteed the gold content of the piece. Regulators, who were also jewelers and highly thought of members of the community, included John Bayley, John Burger, John David Jr., Lewis Feuter, Myer Myers, Thomas Pons, Thomas Underhill, and William Hollingshead. However, none was so prominent and famous in numismatic circles as Ephraim Brasher.
The host coin is a 1747 Half Joe made in the Lisbon mint. Its obverse shows a right facing portrait of King John V of Portugal, who was also known as Fidelissimus (in Portuguese Joao V) the Magnanimous, king of Portugal and the Algarves. He reigned from 1706 to 1750. Inscribed around the portrait are his name and title with the date below. The reverse shows the crowned coat of arms.
Usually numismatists are concerned about a coin’s pristine quality. In fact, today a “perfect” coin is given a grade of Mint State 70. Coins that are holed, clipped, filed, plugged, and counter stamped have considerably diminished value to most collectors. Most coins in these categories are considered undesirable and would not be certified by any of the major grading services except in the “details” category. However, in the realm of regulated gold coins, all of the previous notions of quality and appeal must be abandoned in favor of a different set of assumptions. Even counterfeit coins have been regulated and are highly collectible today. Obviously a regulated coin cannot be in Mint State condition. The host coin must be described in detail and, if possible, graded separately from the plug or plugs.
Regulated coins have been found in collections of famous collectors and numismatists. These include Virgil M. Brand, Louis Eliasberg, John J. Ford Jr., John Work Garrett, Waldo Newcomer, and John L. Roper. Edward Roehrs had an excellent collection of regulated coins that was auctioned in 2010 at the ANA Boston World’s Fair of Money.
It seems unusual that colonists would have silver tankards, beakers, and porringers; however, it should be noted that these items represented a person’s surplus wealth. Since there were no banks where a colonist could keep hard money, they took all their surplus coins to a silversmith and had them melted and made into useful objects. Since paper money often depreciated, savings were safer if invested in silver plate where they could also be useful in the home. The silversmith had to be a man of highest integrity because he was expected to turn a certain quantity of silver plate into coin or the opposite.
John Bayley was a silver and goldsmith who worked in Philadelphia from the 1750’s until the end of the Revolutionary War. Jacob Boelen III, whose father and grandfather were gold and silversmiths, worked in New York after the Revolution. The hallmark could belong to either man. Both were gold regulators who worked to a 9 dwt standard. It is possible that two different men were using similar punches at the time.
Although the grading services do not list regulated coins in their population reports, one can assume that this 1776-83 John Bayley Regulated coin is rare if not unique.
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