Heritage Offers NGC-graded Salmon Collection of Massachusetts Coins

Posted on 8/9/2022

The first group of coins from the Salmon Collection is being offered in August and includes some of the greatest rarities in early American coinage.

Numismatic Guaranty Company™ (NGC®) has certified hundreds of Massachusetts colonial coins from the superb collection of Christopher J. Salmon, a numismatic researcher who literally wrote the book on the subject. Heritage Auctions is offering the coins in a series of sales, including more than 120 in the US Coins Signature Auction, being held August 22-28, 2022.

These silver coins from the Massachusetts Bay Colony were the first to be minted in British America. The first rudimentary issues were struck in Boston in 1652 but their design made them easy to clip and counterfeit. Subsequent series had more sophisticated designs that included trees — willow, oak and pine — until production ceased in the 1680s, when the colony's royal charter was revoked.

'NE' type: 1652

The initial coins contained only the initials 'NE' (for New England) on one side and the Roman initials for the denomination on the other side (such as XII for Shilling, which was equal to 12 pence). The initial auction includes five 'NE' Shillings that are numerically graded by NGC, and all had attracted bids of over $25,000 more than two weeks before the auction. An 'NE' Shilling that is NGC Details-graded is also being offered.

Massachusetts (1652) 'NE' Shilling graded NGC XF 45 and pedigreed to the Christopher J. Salmon Collection
Click images to enlarge.

Willow Tree type: 1653-1660

The 'NE' coins were followed by the Willow Tree coins, which were issued in denominations of threepence, sixpence and a shilling — all with a date of 1652. The collection includes a Willow Tree sixpence, which is graded NGC AU 55 (lot 3250). Like their predecessor, the Willow Tree coins today sell for five to six figures whenever they are offered at auction.

Massachusetts 1652 Willow Tree Sixpence graded NGC AU 55 and pedigreed to the Garrett and Christopher J. Salmon Collections
Click images to enlarge.

Oak Tree type: 1660-1667

The Oak Tree series includes four denominations: twopence, threepence, sixpence and shilling. The initial sale includes a rare variety of Oak Tree Threepence known as Salmon 7-B (lot 3298), one of only two known to exist, according to Heritage Auctions. The coin is graded NGC XF Details.

Massachusetts 1652 'IN' Oak Tree Threepence graded NGC XF Details and pedigreed to the Christopher J. Salmon Collection
Click images to enlarge.

Pine Tree type: 1667-1682

Another highlight of the auction is a Pellets Pine Tree Shilling graded NGC MS 63 (lot 3307). Within the Salmon Collection, it is tied with one other example for the highest-graded of these coins struck in the 17th century. It is dated 1652, just like all other tree series except the 1662-dated Oak Tree Twopence.

Massachusetts 1652 Pellets Pine Tree Shilling graded NGC MS 63 and pedigreed to the Christopher J. Salmon Collection
Click images to enlarge.

Salmon is the author of "Silver Coins of Massachusetts: Classification, Minting Technique, Atlas," the definitive work on these historic coins. The reference book includes an effective and flexible system to classify their varieties that uses the name of its author.

NGC is showcasing over 350 coins that it certified from the Salmon Collection in an image gallery on its website. The coins are sortable by variety and include their catalog number, offering the coin collecting community a comprehensive research tool for Massachusetts Colonial coinage. To explore the gallery, go to NGCcoin.com/Salmon.

Other NGC-certified highlights from the Christopher J. Salmon Collection in this sale include:

  • a (1652) 'NE' Shilling graded NGC AU 50 (lot 3242)
  • a (1652) 'NE' Shilling graded NGC XF 45 (lot 3239)
  • a (1652) 'NE' Shilling graded NGC VF 35 (lot 3238)
  • a (1652) 'NE' Shilling graded NGC VF 35 (lot 3241)
  • a (1652) 'NE' Shilling graded NGC AU Details (lot 3237)
  • a 1652 Willow Tree Shilling graded NGC VF 35 (lot 3245)
  • a 1652 Willow Tree Shilling graded NGC VF 30 (lot 3247)
  • a 1652 Willow Tree Shilling graded NGC F 15 (lot 3246)
  • a 1652 Pine Tree Shilling graded NGC MS 62 (lot 3310)
  • a 1652 No 'H' Pine Tree Shilling graded NGC AU 58 (lot 3321)
  • a 1652 'IN' Bottom Oak Tree Shilling graded NGC MS 62 (lot 3256)
  • a 1652 'IN' Obverse Oak Tree Shilling graded NGC AU 58 (lot 3282)


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