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"Willow Tree" shilling

1653-1660
Origin: America, Massachusetts, Boston
Diameter: 27 mm Weight: 70.8 grains
Silver
Gift of the Lasser Family
Acc. No. 2004-8,3
Label:Because the "NE" coins were intended to be an officially endorsed measure of good silver, it was imperative that they be full weight. Anticipating the unscrupulous and illegal practice of clipping, the General Assembly passed an act on October 19, 1652 changing the design of Massachusetts coinage to one which filled both sides so it would be obvious if a piece had been "clipped" off.

Starting a Massachusetts coin tradition lasting another 30 years, the newly designed coins bore central device of a tree on the obverse and the date of authorization and denomination on the reverse. Taken as a whole, the legends on both sides of the coin read; MASATHVSETTS IN NEW ENGLAND AN(no) DOM(ini).

The "Willow Tree" coins were struck by hand-held hammer and anvil dies, which produced extremely crude coins. Today, all denominations of Willow tree coins are extremely rare, and this example is a splendid example.

Noe #3C, Breen-12

Provenance:Christie's (Winter 1981, lot 422). Purportedly from the collection of an English Archbishop formed c.1670.