Description and Analysis

Sommer Islands
c.1616 SOMMER ISLANDS 3P MS

Description & Analysis

All Sommer Islands threepence feature small portholes on the ship on the reverse except for a lone example that has large portholes. The threepence denomination is significantly rarer than the Sommer Islands twopence, sixpence and shillings.

The earliest coins struck for British North America were the Sommer Islands twopence, threepence, sixpence and shillings. The Sommer Islands (also frequently spelled Somer Islands or Isles) comprise present-day Bermuda.

In 1609, nine ships carrying colonists to the new colony of Jamestown in Virginia shipwrecked there during a severe storm, stranding the passengers on an island. The passengers, however, were greeted by an abundance of wild hogs, believed to have descended from a group left by Juan Bermudez, a Spanish explorer who discovered the islands more than 100 years earlier. In 1610, the islands were named “Sommer Islands” after the death of Sir George Somers, one of the passengers who had been stranded.

On June 29, 1615, the Bermuda Company was established to colonize these islands. The company’s authorization included the right to strike coins and soon brass twopence, threepence, sixpence and shilling were minted. The wild hog that inhabited the islands was used as the obverse design and many collectors refer to these coins as “hogge money.” On the reverse is a depiction of a ship.

Metal detector finds in Bermuda have resulted in greater availability of Sommer Islands coinage but they are still decidedly rare. Most of the surviving examples are circulated and corroded, undoubtedly a result of being buried for hundreds of years.