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Colonial Copper Questions

commacomma Posts: 1,514 ✭✭✭

Starting to get into Colonial American coins. Looking to start with well circulated, low cost coins like the George II and George III copper (halfpennies etc).

For non US-minted coins (like British and Spanish coins) is there any way to know if certain coins were or weren't circulated in 1700s America?

Specifically as I look at British copper I'm curious if there are any signs to help decide if it was used as colonial currency or not.

Thanks!

Comments

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,168 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2, 2024 9:55AM

    @comma said:
    Starting to get into Colonial American coins. Looking to start with well circulated, low cost coins like the George II and George III copper (halfpennies etc).

    For non US-minted coins (like British and Spanish coins) is there any way to know if certain coins were or weren't circulated in 1700s America?

    Specifically as I look at British copper I'm curious if there are any signs to help decide if it was used as colonial currency or not.

    Thanks!

    It was a British colony. Pretty much all their coins circulated here along with the more prevalent Spanish and Portuguese colonial coins from Latin America. I've seen conversion charts into the 1850s for the 3 colonial systems.

  • Manifest_DestinyManifest_Destiny Posts: 2,934 ✭✭✭✭✭

    1749 half pennies were specifically imported to the colonies.

  • jerseybenjerseyben Posts: 104 ✭✭✭

    The number 1 thing you can do is to buy a copy of the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coinage.

  • gumby1234gumby1234 Posts: 5,355 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Because the US mint didn't really start making coins for circulation until 1793 pretty much any coin that made its way into the US was used.

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  • commacomma Posts: 1,514 ✭✭✭

    @gumby1234 said:
    Because the US mint didn't really start making coins for circulation until 1793 pretty much any coin that made its way into the US was used.

    Yeah, I think my struggle is how to know if a coin was circulated here in colonial times or just used in England and brought here more recently. But I also understand in most circumstances that would be hard to know.

  • commacomma Posts: 1,514 ✭✭✭

    @Manifest_Destiny said:
    1749 half pennies were specifically imported to the colonies.

    Good to know! Any particular reason why? Can't seem to find info on that

  • commacomma Posts: 1,514 ✭✭✭

    Thanks, I actually did read that article before posting here. It helped with which date ranges etc. circulated in the US but didn't give any other info on other signs or factors that could make a particular coin more likely to have circulated in the US (but I might have not read enough)

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,168 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @comma said:

    Thanks, I actually did read that article before posting here. It helped with which date ranges etc. circulated in the US but didn't give any other info on other signs or factors that could make a particular coin more likely to have circulated in the US (but I might have not read enough)

    There's no way to know where an individual coin has been unless it were counterstamped in the period or has a known provenance.

  • oldabeintxoldabeintx Posts: 1,554 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A fun type set. Keep in mind that foreign coins were legal tender here until 1857. For my set I started with the Registry checklist which you can find under foreign. Check the Jamestown and Williamsburg websites to see what they have dug/found. Join C4, they include foreign as well as traditional colonial articles, including recently dug coins. I've only included 18th century coins in my collection. England shipped us a bunch of half pennies and farthings dated 1749 on the Mermaid, can't recall whether it was a payment.

  • oldabeintxoldabeintx Posts: 1,554 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Money of the American Colonies, etc. by Philip Mossman ids a good source.

  • lcutlerlcutler Posts: 490 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 3, 2024 1:03AM

    There is no way to know if any individual coin actually circulated here unless it is found metal detecting or something like that. A huge number of 1749 farthings and halfpennies were shipped to Massachusetts on the ship "Mermaid" as reimbursement for expenses incurred in the French and Indian war. Even at that though, there is no guarantee any individual 1749 was one of those shipped here.

  • oldabeintxoldabeintx Posts: 1,554 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I’ve never seen a specific coin represented as having circulated in the colonies or in the USA. Even one found in the ground, even in situ, may be difficult to authenticate as used by colonists. I’m satisfied collecting by types, which possibly circulated here.

  • ColonialcoinColonialcoin Posts: 615 ✭✭✭✭

    Lightweight counterfeits from Great Britain and Ireland flooded the country in the late 1780’s. They were also used as undertypes for Vermont’s, Connecticut’s, and New Jersey’s. Counterfeits are very collectible as they circulated quite extensively here. There are many hundreds of varieties but many have a generic look to them.

  • oldabeintxoldabeintx Posts: 1,554 ✭✭✭✭✭

    At least one contemporary counterfeit adds interest. I had a heck if a time getting anyone to slab the one example I have - if you care to go that way. Seems odd considering the plethora of home-grown counterfeits that are acceptable for grading, but there it is.

  • oldabeintxoldabeintx Posts: 1,554 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As you may be aware certain foreign coins traditionally included as “colonials” were minted specifically for export to America. I suppose one can assume that those types circulated here. Research may tell you whether any stayed at home (England, France) in quantity.

  • ambro51ambro51 Posts: 13,552 ✭✭✭✭✭

    In 1773 the colony of Virginia commissioned the Tower of London to strike over a half million half pence. These were delivered in 1775, making them a true “colonial” coin.

  • SapyxSapyx Posts: 1,954 ✭✭✭✭✭

    There's no way to tell, just by looking at a coin or even by examining it using high-tech scientific wizardry, whether or not it spent all its circulating life in North America, or if it only arrived on the continent last week after spending most of its life in Europe or Australia. Without a time machine, what you would need for such proof is provenance - and very few coins have any kind of provenance going all the way back to colonial times.

    There are plenty of dealers who exploit these curious parochial demand spikes that some countries have. I suspect there are many dealers who make their money by going to Britain, buying up a bunch of cheap heavily worn 1770s halfpennies and farthings, and bringing them to America where they know they can make 10x their money by selling them as "colonials".

    Same thing happens to us here in Australia. Spanish-Mexican silver dollars from the late 1700s and early 1800s are cheap as chips in Europe and America, but bring them to Australia and you can triple your money by selling them as "proclamation coins".

    At least, people used to do this pre-COVID. The spike in international airfare and shipping prices has probably dampened their profit margins.

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  • oldabeintxoldabeintx Posts: 1,554 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I’ve had to buy several types from overseas dealers in order to even find what I’m looking for. Doesn’t bother me.

  • Namvet69Namvet69 Posts: 8,578 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Breens encyclopedia of us and world coins is a worthwhile reference. Lots of history to know. Good luck. Peace Roy

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