NGC-certified 'NE' Massachusetts Shilling Realizes Over $350,000 in Morton & Eden Sale

Posted on 12/6/2021

A sweet discovery, the shilling and two other early American coins that each realized prices over $75,000 were found in a candy tin.

The finest known ‘NE’ Massachusetts Shilling, which was recently certified by Numismatic Guaranty Company™ (NGC®), has realized £264,000 (about $352,000) in a Morton & Eden auction. The shilling and other early American rarities were found recently in a sweet tin in the United Kingdom and offered in the November 26, 2021 sale.

The Massachusetts (1652) 'NE' Shilling graded NGC MS 61 (lot 1034) is the only one of its type to have earned a Mint State grade. It surpassed its pre-sale estimate of £150,000 to £200,000 (about $201,000 to $268,000).

Massachusetts (1652) 'NE' Shilling graded NGC MS 61. Realized: £264,000 (about $352,000)
Click images to enlarge.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony struck the first coins in British America, initially with a design that included 'NE' (for New England) on the obverse and a Roman numeral on the reverse. In this case, the coin bears the number 'XII' to note that it is worth 12 pence, equal to one shilling. Its rudimentary design was a forerunner of more complex ones featuring images of trees and legends near the edge — changes that were meant to discourage counterfeiting and clipping.

The coin was purchased by Kent Ponterio and Patrick Richey of World Numismatics LLC, based in Arizona. The seller was an art advisor in northern England who discovered it in an assortment of coins that were stored in a small metal container. His ancestors include William Wentworth, an early New England settler whose descendants were prominent in Colonial America.

The coins in the sweet tin.
Click images to enlarge.

“I am not surprised at the amount of interest this exceptional coin attracted,” said Morton & Eden Coin Specialist James Morton. "The price paid, which was above its saleroom estimate, reflects its extraordinary historic significance and outstanding original state of preservation."

"With its authenticity and grade certified and guaranteed by NGC, the only-known Mint State 'NE' Shilling had an impressive debut," said Scott Schechter, NGC Chief Numismatist. "It is always exciting to see forgotten rarities re-emerge to great fanfare."

The discoveries also included two examples of the 1776 Continental Dollar. A 1776 Pewter 'EG FECIT' Continental Dollar graded NGC MS 63 (lot 1037) realized £57,600 (about $77,000) while another one graded NGC MS 62 (lot 1038) realized £60,000 (about $80,000), both easily exceeding their pre-auction estimates of £30,000 to £40,000 (about $40,000 to $54,000).

1776 Pewter 'EG FECIT' Continental Dollar graded NGC MS 63. Realized: £57,600 (about $77,000)
Click images to enlarge.

These enigmatic coins were struck in various metals, and numismatists cherish them today for their connection to the newly independent United States. They show a sundial and the date 1776 on the obverse and the interlocking names of the American colonies on the reverse.

The other NGC-certified rarities from the tin were:

  • a 1781-dated Bronze Libertas Americana Medal graded NGC MS 62 BN (lot 1039) that realized £13,200 (about $17,600)
  • a 1652 Massachusetts 'N' Reversed Pine Tree Shilling graded NGC UNC Details (lot 1035) that realized £6,600 (about $8,800)

Prices realized include buyers premium. All estimates provided by the auction house. All dollar amounts are US Dollars.

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