Pine Tree Coinage: Introduction

(ca. 1667 - 1682)

The transition from the Oak Tree design to the Pine Tree was a gradual process. What is taken to be the final Oak Tree variety is known as the "spiny branches" variety (Noe 14) and looks very much like the Pine Tree. Also, Oak Tree sixpence coins in the varieties Noe 20 through Noe 22 use the same reverse die as the Pine Tree sixpence, Noe 32. It is generally thought the change to the Pine Tree design occurred in 1667 when the first renegotiated minting contract expired and a new agreement was signed. However, there is no proof for this, nor can we be sure that the production of Oak Tree coins ceased before Pine Tree coins began. As we will see with New Jersey coppers, it may be that usable Oak Tree dies continued to be used after the new Pine Tree dies were obtained and were not discarded until they were worn out (from the Pine Tree series we know more than one die was used at a time).

In relation to the earlier styles, a vast number of Pine Tree coins were minted. The shillings come in two different series. The first series of Pine Tree shillings, made on large thin planchets, were produced using the same technology as was used for the Oak Tree series (either a rocker arm press or a roller press). The large planchet shilling varieties include Noe 1 - Noe 11 and Picker 1.5, 4.2, 8.2 and 11.5. Noe listed eight obverse and seven reverse dies. The dating of these coins is tenuous; Noe guessed they were minted during the period that corresponded to Hull's second contract, that is 1667 to 1674.

Because of recent research, we now suspect the changes in coinage were not linked to contract renewals but occurred because of changes in minting technology. The second and final series of Pine Tree shillings were struck on smaller and thicker planchets than the previous series. This was due to the replacement of the rocker arm or roller press by the more sophisticated screw press. In the screw press, an upper and a lower die are pressed together by turning handles attached to a large screw. Whereas only a thin planchet could be forced through the two rocker dies or two roller dies, a coin of almost any thickness could be accommodated in a screw press. A direct strike from a screw press also produced a sharper impression, without any of the elongation or bending which inevitably occurred with rocker and roller die technologies. In his 1996 letter cites in the previous Massachusetts silver introductions, Michael Hodder stated he suspects the change in coin size may not precisely delineate the transition in technology. He suspects some large planchet pine tree shillings may have been produced on a screw press as well as some of the pine tree 6d coins (he attributes the others to a roller press). Hodder does believe all of the smaller planchet shillings as well as all the 3d pine trees were made on a screw press.

The small planchet Pine Tree shilling varieties include Noe 12, and Noe 15 - Noe 30 as well as Picker 26.2, 26.4, 26.6 and a new number designated by Picker as Noe 38. Noe 13, 14, 31 and possibly Noe 12 are now considered to be contemporary counterfeits. Noe lists seventeen obverse and nine reverse dies, of which he says four reverse dies were used concurrently in a number of different combinations. Again, Noe suspected these small planchet coins corresponded to Hull's third contract, 1675-1682. We are not certain when they were first minted, but it is clear they were not minted after 1682, when the mint closed.

During the minting of the Pine Tree series, coinage focused on shillings with twenty-nine different varieties of shillings, two varieties of sixpence and four varieties of threepence being minted. The twopence coin, found on the Oak Tree series, was not minted.

Note: The varieties listed here are based on the information found in Noe as revised by Picker. Picker has added eight shilling variants to previously known varieties as well as discovering a new variety, Noe 38. Additionally, Picker lists Noe 13 and Noe 14 as contemporary counterfeits and explains details about the following: the shilling Noe 22, the sixpence Noe 33A, and the threepence Noe 34, 36 and 37.

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Section Contents Pine Tree Coins

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