The NGC Universal ID is a four digit alphanumeric that groups coins based on a unique combination of date, mintmark, denomination and striking process (MS, PF, or SP). These IDs are a simple organization of all coins prior to variety attribution and grading.
The Boston Mint was sufficiently productive that most collectors can own a Pine Tree or Oak Tree example. The other early silver series struck for the colonies, the Lord Baltimore coinage, is decidedly rarer. Even advanced numismatists can only dream of owning a Baltimore penny, of which six pieces are known. The other three issues, the fourpence, sixpence, and shilling, are collectible but hard to find, especially in better grades.
Most examples of Baltimore shillings are from the present dies (illustrated above). A Small Head variant exists, but is unique in silver and extremely rare in copper. It was probably a rejected prototype for the shilling production, and the same can be said for Breen-67, a shilling with a different shield design known from a single specimen.
The head of Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, was so iconic of Maryland numismatics that it again surfaced on the 1934 Maryland Tercentenary commemorative half. However, that bust was three-quarters facing instead of a left profile. William Idler store cards of 1859 to 1860 used a more derivative imitation of the Maryland silver coinage. These specifically imitated the prohibitively rare Maryland penny. Idler was a Philadelphia coin dealer, and the father-in-law of Captain John Haseltine of Confederate cent fame.
Cecil Calvert (1609-1675) never visited his American colony, although his two younger brothers went there to manage it. Cecil inherited the colony from his father, George Calvert, who was granted the title by King Charles I, a fellow Catholic sympathizer. Specie, of course, was in short supply in the Maryland colony, and tobacco circulated as money. As production of tobacco rose, its purchasing power diminished. To stabilize the economy, silver coins bearing Cecil's bust and personal arms were struck in London and exported to the colonies, circa 1659.
The Protestant English government learned of Calvert's coinage, and Cecil was arrested in October 1659. He was charged with two crimes: underweight silver coinage, and the exportation of specie from England. The Baltimore coinage was approximately 30% underweight to induce it to remain in the colony, although the unfamiliar types soon traded by their weight instead of face value. Calvert's punishment, if any, is unrecorded, but it is known that his coinage remained in circulation in Maryland until at least 1671.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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