The NE Coinage: Introduction

Summer-October 1652

The first coins to be produced by Hull are know as the "NE" or New England coinage. Blank round planchets cut from strips of silver were punch stamped with the letters 'NE' at 12:00 o'clock on the obverse, then on the reverse the denomination of III, VI or XII was punch stamped at 6:00 o'clock so that the numerals faced towards the center of the coin (on most reproductions both sides are stamped at 12:00 o'clock). As the remainder of the coin was blank, it was easy to clip the coins. This problem is directly addressed by the legislation of October 19, 1652, in which the General Court changed the style of the coins so that they had a more complex design. It is generally assumed the production of NE coinage ceased soon after the more complex willow tree design coinage was instituted. Thus, the period of NE coin production was thought to be only a few months, dating from the opening of the mint sometime during the summer of 1652, probably in July, (discussed in the MA Silver General Introduction) and stopping in October of that year.

Michael Hodder has cataloged several significant Massachusetts silver coins for a number of major auctions. In a letter to the editor of The C4 Newsletter, published in 1996 (vol. 4, no. 2) on pp. 20-21 Hodder included some of his observation (and theories) on the series. Concerning the NE variety Hodder stated: "NE shillings were made on round blanks cut by a cookie-cutter kind on planchet cutter. NE's might have been made at the same time that Willows were, maybe even when Oaks and Pines were, too! Some I've seen look very sophisticated! Some day I'll do a monograph on the MA silver series." Hodder does not dispute the NE's came first, rather he suspects their production may have continued after the advent of the more complex design specified in the October 19, 1652 legislation.

Only about twenty NE coins survive. Sydney Noe has made the most complete inventory and catalog of the various Massachusetts silver series. Noe lists sixteen shillings, four sixpence (of which Noe 4 is now considered a counterfeit) and one threepence. As none show signs of clipping, Noe has suggested surviving specimens represent only the finest examples which were kept by collectors. Very few NE coins have been uncovered in hoards. For the shilling, there are extant examples of three different obverse 'NE' punches and four reverse 'XII' punches (Noe only listed three), used in at least five different combinations. There is only one punch variety extant for the sixpence (the punch for Noe 4 being counterfeit) and one for the threepence (using the same 'NE' punch as is found on the sixpence). As mentioned in the general introduction it was discovered the Noe 4 sixpence was stamped on a 1772 Mexican one real (Andrew Pollock, "A Fabricated NE Sixpence" The Rare Coin Review 80 (1990) on p. 50).

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Section Contents N E Coinage

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