1 Shilling, United States, 1652

Produced at John Hull's private mint in Boston. Obverse: Script NE (for New England). Reverse: XII for twelve pence, or one shilling. Boston was founded in 1630. Within two decades, it had become a prosperous, thriving community, engaging in legal trade with the mother country and clandestine trade with Spanish America.
Perpetually short of coinage, the proper Bostonians came up with an unorthodox idea: they would take a portion of the silver coming in from the south, melt it down, and make coins from it. Their first efforts were modest. They recast the silver, beat it into thin sheets, then cut more-or-less round blanks from it. The blanks were struck with simple designs, once on each side.
The resulting coins were fairly easy to counterfeit. They were very easy to clip off some of the metal (and a portion of their value would be thereby removed). Embarrassed bureaucrats soon legislated more sophisticated designs that took up all of each side of the coin.
Object Name
date made
Massachusetts Bay Colony
Physical Description
silver (overall metal)
0 (overall die axis)
0 (overall die axis measurement)
struck (overall production method)
overall: .1 cm x 2.8 cm; 1/32 in x 1 3/32 in
place made
United States: Massachusetts
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Armed Forces History: National Numismatic Collection
Coins, Currency and Medals
The Value of Money
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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