1652 Pine Tree Shilling PCGS MS61 CAC. Large Planchet, No PELLETS, Noe-3, Rarirty-6. The Pine Tree coins were originally called “Boston” or “Bay Shillings.” Numerous varieties exist because the period of production was extended from 1662 to 1682. During this time the handmade dies wore out or broke easily, requiring constant replacement. In order to keep money in the colony, a law was passed in 1654 prohibiting exportation of more than twenty shillings upon penalty of total forfeiture. This law was needed because Massachusetts colonists traded with people of other colonies, and the coinage was constantly being depleted.
There were two types of Pine Tree issues the large and small. The coins were all dated 1652, when the Puritans took power from the English Royalists. Minted in quantity, the Large Shillings include AN DOM in the reverse legend. The Small Shillings use AN DO instead. There are numerous varieties because die steel was not readily available, and dies had to be reused.
With the monarchy restored, the colony continued to mint coins, an act of treason. To ameliorate this situation, Massachusetts Puritans sent King Charles II presents, one of which was a shipload of masts for the Royal Navy. Even using the 1652 date could not hide evidence of coinage in the colonies after the Restoration. Political gifts were given from time to time to the King and to the Massachusetts government by the mint masters and by the Court to the King. For example in 1667 the mint masters paid the public treasury forty pounds and ten pounds for the next seven years, and in 1677: “It is ordered that the Treasurere doe forthwith prouide ten barrels of Cranburyes, two hogsheads of speciall Good Sampe, and three thousand of Cod fish, to be sent to our messengers, by them to be presented to his Majesty as a present from this Court.”
Many Pine Tree coins show teeth marks and evidence of bending, souvenirs of the Salem witchcraft problems of 1692. A bent coin would ward off witches’ spells. The smaller shillings were not bent as often as the large ones because they were made from thicker flans and could not be bent easily. However, they were often counterfeited, shaved, and clipped.
After 1675 coinage consisted of Small Pine Tree Shillings, which were still dated 1652. Mintages were immense because the colonists realized that the Crown would soon prohibit any coins being minted in the colonies. In 1684, King James II revoked the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A police state was established in the province. Later a new governor was sent by the authorities to restore the conditions that existed prior to 1652. Sir Edmond Andros was the individual sent by the King. He went to Hartford, Connecticut and tried to seize the colony’s charter, but it was hidden in a tree. It became known as the Charter Oak, which is pictured on the Connecticut State Quarter of 1999. When James II was ousted, Andros was shipped back to England.
Although the Pine Tree Shillings were replaced by paper currency that became severely devalued, the Pine Tree coinage remained the preferred means of exchange along with Mexican dollars.
The coins of Massachusetts show the beginning of a tradition of opposition to interference by England in internal affairs of the colonies. They represent the first step towards the Boston Tea Party, the Sons of Liberty, and the Revolution that would follow.
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