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US New England Colonial Coinage 1652 to 1682
In early New England, corn, pelts, bullets, and wampum were frequently used in lieu of coins. The British colonial General Court in 1652 ordered the first metallic currency struck: the New England silver threepence, sixpence, and shilling, lagging the Spaniards who had established a mint in Mexico City in 1535.
Not surprisingly, New England coinage today is very rare and very valuable. Also not surprisingly, many counterfeit New England pieces were made, and are still being made.
Typical values for authentic New England coinage start around $500 US dollars for well worn specimens and climb into the tens of 1000s of dollars for scarce and well-preserved pieces.
If you search on the Internet for these coins (e.g., on eBay), you will find oodles of replica coins and hardly any genuine articles. The coin in our picture is a genuine oak tree piece offered for sale by respected eBay seller Steve Hayden, who also has a well-stocked eBay Store filled with interesting US colonial coins and other numismatica. Steve's selling price for the pictured coin exceeds $2300 US dollars, which is a good price for such a well-preserved specimen.
Most of what you see for sale for a few dollars are replicas.
Back in the 1970s an act of Congress made it illegal to produce replica coins without affixing the word COPY prominently on the piece, like this famous Pine Tree Copper. If you have a coin with the word COPY, you know it is, well, a copy. The problem comes when unscrupulous counterfeiters produce pieces without the COPY annotation.
CoinQuest thanks Steve Hayden for use of his coin photo. What a great coin!
If you have what you think might be a genuine piece, you can send a picture to CoinQuest (use the Contact Us link) and we can give you our opinion. It would be better, however, to contact an expert such as Steve Hayden on such matters. The ultimate authority on authenticity of colonial and all other coins are third party services PCGS, NGC, ICG, and ANANCS (look them up on the Internet). Do not use other services. These people will authenticate and grade your coin, then seal it in a protective holder which guarantees their assessment of your coin.