Guide to Colonials Values
Coins with marks stamped in them after they were struck are called counterstamped coins. These were often used as advertising. Read More
Massachusetts authorized the first metallic currency of the English Americas in 1652, creating Silver coins for local circulation. Read More
Regional tokens were struck by private authorities and were usually used to address a shortage of circulating coinage in the area. Read More
French coins circulated in the New World. France created coins specifically for its colonies, and these made their way throughout the Americas. Read More
Many different coins were used across the early United States, including small regional issues that only circulated in limited geographic areas. Read More
With the creation of the United States of America, the government had to figure out a system of coinage. There were several early pattern coins created as tests. Read More
Benjamin Franklin came up with the concept and mottoes for the Libertas Americana medals himself, and the medals were created for presentation to the French. Read More
Americans were used to using the coinage of other countries for their day-to-day transactions, and much of that money was accepted as legal tender until 1857 when it was outlawed. English coinage was the largest percentage of circulation, but Spanish Silver also made up a significant chunk. Dutch, French and Brazilian money also saw heavy circulation.
Private coins and tokens as well as issues authorized under the English colonial government were used throughout the colonies. Many debts were settled and bills paid with whatever was on hand at the time, including barter, wampum, pelts, grain and more.
Colonial, Post-Colonial and Continental Coin Types
Counterstamps or countermarks are a major feature of early American coinage. These were stamps made in coins to indicate they were accepted as tender by a particular authority. Those could have been businessmen, state governments, local governments or any number of other authorities. These marks were distinctive and individual.
The Massachusetts General Court responded to general pressure for standard coinage in 1652 when England ignored agitation from the colonies. They struck a Silver threepence, sixpence and shilling. The 1652 version of the coin was just a flat disc with a small mark, and it was prone to counterfeiting and clipping. This led to more advanced coinage like the Willow Tree (1653 to 1660), Oak Tree (1660 to 1667) and the famous Pine Tree (1667 to 1682).
Maryland and New Jersey also had their own issues, with the St. Patrick coins coming from Ireland and becoming accepted legal tender in New Jersey and the Lord Baltimore coins being minted when Cecil Calvert inherited his father’s place at the head of colonial Maryland. Some coins were also authorized for the states by the Crown, including the American Plantations tin coins, the Rosa Americana brass coins and the Virginia Copper halfpennies.
There were also private regional issues including Higley coppers, Pitt tokens and John Chalmers Silver tokens. Some of these were commemoratives not meant for circulation or pattern coins struck as a proof of concept. Others like the John Chalmers issues were meant to address a lack of trusted change in the area.
French colonial coins were not made for the 13 colonies, but they did see circulation there. Acadia, the West Indies and New France were the areas that were supposed to see use of this colonial coinage. Copper and Silver coinage including sol, sou and denier coins saw use in some areas.
State coinage began with New Hampshire in 1776, though these copper coins were pattern coins and not circulating coinage. There are a couple of unique pieces of coinage that were struck as pattern coins or have a very low survival rate. Authorized issues were struck in Massachusetts in 1787 and 1788, establishing the cent as a unit of value. There were also Copper coins struck from 1785 to 1788 in Connecticut. New York had unauthorized circulating Copper tokens as well. Some states minted their own issues that were in similar denominations to the old English coinage as well. There were a significant number of tokens that circulated as well.
Pattern coins and proposed national issues are available from this time period but are very rare and highly collectible. The Nova Constellatio pattern coins are the first indication of a true American coinage. The 1792 Coinage Act established denominations and these were coined as patterns before the earliest true circulating U.S. coins. There are also the Fugio cents, the first coins issued by authority of the United States, which were coined in 1787. Collectors have also found issues of the Libertas Americana medal, which were presented to French royalty and politicians.
Collecting Colonial, Post-Colonial and Continental Coins
Almost all of these issues are so rare that they are out of reach of the casual collector in both price and population, including many unique coins and pattern coins. Many of the rarest American coins are in these series, particularly the pattern coins of the early United States. Even in low condition they tend to be expensive.
The Price Guide
The PCGS Price Guide prices apply only to PCGS-graded coins. The PCGS Price Guide is a guide to assist the coin buying public in determining values for all important United States rare coins. The prices listed in the PCGS Price Guide are average dealer asking prices for PCGS-graded coins. The prices are compiled from various sources including dealer ads in trade papers, dealer fixed price lists and website offerings, significant auctions, and activity at major coin shows.Learn More