Featured Colonial Copper - New Jersey St. Patrick Farthing 1682

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by MIGuy, Mar 11, 2023.

  1. MIGuy

    MIGuy Supporter! Supporter

    According to Red Book, Mark Newby came to America from Dublin, Ireland in 1681. He brought copper pieces believed to have been struck in Dublin 1663-1672, these are called St. Patrick Coppers. The coinage was made legal tender by the General Assembly of New Jersey in May, 1682. Here is more detailed information from the excellent Notre Dame University website: "Originally minted for use in Ireland, St. Patrick coppers had a long and varied history. An English Quaker merchant in Dublin named Mark Newby (or Newbie) acquired a large supply of these coins which he took with him in 1681 when he emigrated to West New Jersey (New Jersey was divided into separate Eastern and Western colonies from 1676-1702). On May 18, 1682 the General Free Assembly of West New Jersey granted Newby's coppers legal tender status and allowed them to circulate as small change at the rate of a halfpenny, replacing wampum. The only restrictions were that Newby had to put up surety (300 acres of land) that he would exchange the coppers for "pay equivalent" on demand and that one was not required to accept more than five shillings in coppers at one time. When Newby died about a year later, in the fall of 1682, his estate included £30 in coppers, estimated at roughly 10,800 coins. Newby's St. Patrick coppers filled an important need in local commerce and remained in circulation throughout the colonial period. In fact, in 1881 the eminent New Jersey copper specialist Edward Marris stated that St. Patrick coppers continued to be found in change in western New Jersey into the early 19th century.

    Several theories have been put forth on the origins of the Saint Patrick coppers. The most plausible is that the tokens were minted in Dublin around the period 1674-1675. A single smaller size or "farthing" coin was found in a hoard of 273 coins recovered from the yacht Mary which sank on March 24, 1675, on its way from Dublin to Chester. From this it is certain the production of these coins date to at least 1675. Although there is no evidence as to how much earlier the coins were minted, it is suspected they were part of a coinage sanctioned by Arthur, Earl of Essex, who was the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1672 to 1677. The connection to the Lord Lieutenant is suspected because these coins were carefully made with high quality standards. Each blank planchet had a drop of molten brass added to the obverse before striking. This served a dual purpose in that it made counterfeiting more difficult and gave a golden appearance to the royal English crown on the top of the coin. Also, during minting each coin was given a reeded edge to prevent clipping. Additionally, special presentation copies were made, for a few examples of the smaller size coins survive that were struck in silver or gold. Also, the coins had a royalist legend on the obverse (FLOREAT REX - May the king flourish). All of these facts suggest the coins were designed to have an official status and were not merely a private merchant issue."

    I was fortunate enough to win one tonight for about Red Book value ($400 in Good) for my expanding low grade Colonial Copper set - I'm excited it's a straight graded G6 in a PCGS slab, I'm typically happy to settle for "Details" coppers given the age and rarity of these coins (and my limited budget). Who else loves Colonial Copper? Here she is! (seller's pics)

    StPatNJ2.jpg StPatNJ3.jpg StPatNJ1.jpg StPatNJ4.jpg
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2023
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  3. SensibleSal66

    SensibleSal66 U.S Casual Collector / Error Collector

    Love old Colonial coins! Nice example! :)
    Have a great St. Patrick's day everyone! (March 17,2023).
    MIGuy likes this.
  4. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    A wonderful example of a Colonial coin, a New Jersey copper.
    MIGuy likes this.
  5. l.cutler

    l.cutler Member

    I really like these, but have a grand total of one! I'd like to get one of the larger, or "halfpenny" size. They are called farthing and halfpenny, but the halfpenny is much less than twice the weight so they most likely circulated equally. Some of the earlier references claimed the larger coins were the ones that circulated in new Jersey, but metal detector finds have all been the smaller. I have the reference book on these, if I get the time I'll try to ID the die variety of yours.
    MIGuy likes this.
  6. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Cool issue. I was once fortunate enough to cherrypick one from a bulk World coin lot, around 2005-'06! The brass splasher in it was nice and bright. I notice that doesn't leap out quite as much on yours, due to the brass being toned. I always thought that was a rather interesting feature of these.
    Neal and MIGuy like this.
  7. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    PS- agreed- the straight grade is nice to have.
    MIGuy likes this.
  8. l.cutler

    l.cutler Member

    OK, I believe I have it, wow these are tough, there are a lot of different varieties of these! I come up with 1b.8 obverse [kneeling king side] and Da.11 reverse. This is listed as a low Rarity 7 variety with R7 being 4 to 12 specimens known. Low R7 would be at the 12 end of the range. Now this sounds exciting and very rare, but the most common of these seem to be in the R6+ range, which equates to 13 or 14 known, so as these go it is average. I doubt there are many variety collectors of these anyway, so individual variety rarity doesn't mean too much. Nice historic coin, glad you posted it!
    Cliff Reuter, alurid and MIGuy like this.
  9. MIGuy

    MIGuy Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you so much for taking the trouble to look at this and share your knowledge. That is very interesting to me and I just love learning more about these things.
  10. l.cutler

    l.cutler Member

    Posts on coins like this are too few, as opposed to the usual Morgan dollars or 1982 D small and large date cents, no offense to collectors of those coins of course! I started collecting colonials by type some years ago, and have dabbled in collecting by die variety several series, New Jerseys and Connecticuts primarily. I really like some of the earlier colonials, the St. Patricks, French colonials, Rosa Americanas, and of course Massachusetts silver. Can't afford too many of the Massachusetts coins though!
    johnmilton, MIGuy and lordmarcovan like this.
  11. l.cutler

    l.cutler Member

    Sorry, double post!
  12. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Thank you for an interesting and informative post, @MIGuy. I have never included one of these coins on my list, but I will consider it now. Like @I.cutler, I dabble in colonial and pre-federal type coins.

    The purist colonial collectors view this as a bit of joke, but having been down the die variety collecting aspects of the hobby at one point, I’ve decided that I won’t travel down that road again. After a while you hit a wall where you can’t go any further with the collection until the guys who have the coins decide or are forced to let them go. I prefer to deal with what is possible within a few years, not a few decades.
    MIGuy, alurid and l.cutler like this.
  13. alurid

    alurid Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your post. Like the coins, post about them are scarce like l.cutler stated in his post.
    I have never had any interest in EAC's. They have just seemed like an unobtainable type of coinage. Until this past summer when I got approximately 10+ lbs of culled world copper coins that my LCD pulled out of bulk coinage. In looking through it I found 1 Massachusetts's and 3 Connecticut coins. They are hard to identify, but I am quite sure that I have generally IDed these correctly. It has been fun to learn a little about these type of coins. It has been a nice little history lesson, which is where I think they still have a little bit of value. I do not think I would have done any research on this type of coin without one in my hand.

    Massachusetts's Commonwealth, 29mm, 9.17g
    20230312_081235.jpg 20230312_081225.jpg

    Auctori Connec. Planchet defect, 21.7mm, 4.63g.
    20230312_081323.jpg 20230312_081258.jpg
    Auctori Connec. 1788 ?. Has a 90° rotation strike.
    20230312_081351.jpg 20230312_081402.jpg
    Auctori Connec 1787.
    20230312_081419.jpg 20230312_081429.jpg
    Each coin has a small detail that has allowed me to identify them.
    MIGuy, Eduard, Neal and 1 other person like this.
  14. l.cutler

    l.cutler Member

    I love the design on the Massachusetts half cents and cents. They were the first coins to actually have the cent designation.
  15. Millard

    Millard Coindog

    Great post (and history lesson). Thanks so much. I haven't collected colonial coins in the past but its posts like this that peaks interest.
    MIGuy likes this.
  16. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The Massachusetts half cent and cent were the best made of the state coinage during the pre-constitutional period. The trouble was when the government officials added up the costs of production, it cost more to make those coins than their face value. That ended the program immediately.

    This little gem was in the Eric P. Newman collection. PCGS graded this MS-64.

    1788 Mass Half Cent All.jpg
    Nick Zynko, NOS, MIGuy and 3 others like this.
  17. l.cutler

    l.cutler Member

    Yep, they were the only ones actually produced by the state, not on contract. The cost problem sounds like today!
    MIGuy likes this.
  18. l.cutler

    l.cutler Member

    @MIGuy you sir are a bad influence! I just went and bought one of the large size St. Pats that I had on my ebay watch list for some time! Actually, thanks, it is a coin I have wanted for a long time and I needed a nudge! Unfortunately the large size coins are harder to come by [more expensive]!
    MIGuy likes this.
  19. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    One of the problems was they were rolling out the copper sheets in Dedham, Massachusetts and sending them to Boston to made into coins. Dedham is a bit of drive today. With horse and wagon, it would have been a lot more trouble. I used to live in the area.
    NOS and MIGuy like this.
  20. Neal

    Neal Well-Known Member

    Only today they don't let that stop them from producing. Apparently they were wiser then than now.
    l.cutler likes this.
  21. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    I enjoyed the story; the coin is an added surprise. Thanks for sharing both @MIGuy.
    MIGuy likes this.
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