Thoughts on the “Maine Penny”?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Gam3rBlake, Jun 17, 2021.

  1. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    A brief recap for those who have no idea what I’m talking about:


    In 1957 an amateur archeologist named Guy Mellgren purportedly discovered a silver coin at the “Goddard Site”, a prehistoric archeological site notable for the large number of stone artifacts found.

    At first the coin was misidentified as a British penny (Before 1797, British pennies were made of silver).

    Today there is no doubt it is a silver coin of King Olaf III of Norway.

    The issue is that King Olaf III lived in the 11th century and even the Vikings such as Leif Erickson “only” made it to Canada but did not make it as far south as Maine.

    This artifact suggests that it’s possible that 11th century Norwegian explorers made it all the way to the continental United States long before Columbus was even born. It has been suggested as evidence of Pre-Columbian post-atlantic contact.

    Now there are a few theories about the Maine Penny.

    The 1st: The coin was planted by the man who found it.

    The 2nd: The coin was brought to Maine by Europeans post-15th century and then later lost.

    The 3rd: Norwegian explorers actually made it to Maine and made contact with Native Americans and the coin was given to them long before historians believe Native Americans were contacted by Europeans.

    The Maine State Museum describes it as "the only pre-Columbian Norse artifact generally regarded as genuine found within the United States".

    Although the Museum states "the most likely explanation for the coin's presence is that it was obtained by natives somewhere else, perhaps in Newfoundland where the only known New World Norse settlement has been found at L’Anse aux Meadows, and that it eventually reached the Goddard site through native trade channels".

    Note: Food remains at L’Anse aux Meadows included butternuts, which are significant because they do not grow naturally north of New Brunswick. Their presence probably indicates the Norse inhabitants traveled farther south to obtain them.

    Your thoughts?

    C0654F20-D741-4F91-960B-299CB38370B7.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021
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  3. Treashunt

    Treashunt The Other Frank

    Very interesting, especially the part where the coin was mis-identified at first.


    Why didn't they just post it here?

    :)
     
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  4. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    In 1957... lol xD
     
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  5. Treashunt

    Treashunt The Other Frank


    ah, good point.

    well, apparently they 64 years of research.
     
  6. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    In all fairness to them we have a lot more resources at our fingertips such as the internet.

    They would’ve either had to consult an expert in 11th century Norwegian coinage (I’m guessing there weren’t many) or they would’ve had to resort to the time consuming task of pouring through books looking for a match.

    I should mention the picture in my OP isn’t a picture of the Maine Penny itself so the real one might be in very rough condition and harder to identify.

    What’s interesting is the possibility that a coin could prove that a huge part of history is wrong.

    Rarely can a single coin change our knowledge of history in such a substantial way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021
  7. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    I think this is the coin that was found.
    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Interesting, this is far more plausible than most other alleged pre-Columbian coin finds in North America. If I had to guess, I'd expect that it may have been obtained from Vikings in Newfoundland and traveled through Native American trade routes before being lost in Maine. (This seems to be the official position of the Maine State Museum.) A silver coin would have been an interesting and valuable object that was worth carrying long distances to trade. Of course, there's not enough evidence to really tell how the coin got there. If there were other clearly Viking-derived artifacts found at the site, I'd be more inclined to believe that actual Vikings themselves had been present, as it would be less likely that so much Viking stuff would have all traveled at once.

    Ultimately, though, I don't know that finding proof of Vikings landing in Maine would prove "a huge part of history is wrong". It would certainly be an interesting fact, and I'm glad any time we can find out information about the past that had been lost. But ultimately, all Viking expeditions to North America were failures, having almost no impact on either European or Native American cultures and leading to no major effects. Columbus was important, not because of being the first European to reach the Americas (he clearly wasn't- even if we accept only the L'Anse aux Meadows site, there was at least one previous European settlement), but because his expedition was followed up on. (1) Columbus began the process of exchange of both people and goods between the Old and New Worlds, and that's why he was (and remains) important to history.

    (1) Yes, I just ended a sentence with not just one, but two prepositions. Come at me, grammar nerds! :mad:
     
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  9. scottishmoney

    scottishmoney Unwell Unknown Unmembered Supporter

    One "lost" and little known early settlement in Maine is the Popham Colony which was founded in 1607, the same year as the Jamestown colony in Virginia and 13 years before the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts-Bay. The colony failed and everybody lived, but didn't really tell the tale because it failed, and boarded the ship back to merry old England.

    One has to wonder though... there are vague accounts of a St. Brendan from Ireland visiting the America's in the first millennium AD, also accounts of a Chinese explorer that allegedly crossed the Pacific and visited Central America. It is not outside the realm of possibility that there were early visitors to the America's that didn't record their travels - or they never made it back because of a shipwreck etc.
     
  10. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for sharing a pic!

    Yeah that would be hard for someone in the 1950s to identify.

    I bet even today if someone posted that asking what it was it would stump most users and they’d ask for more details.
     
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  11. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Well I’ve heard there are rumors of the Plymouth colony members observing native Americans with blonde hair or blue eyes. European traits. If true it suggests sexual interaction between Native Americans and Europeans prior to colonization of the Americas.

    However that same fact is sometime’s used as evidence that the “Lost Colony of Roanoake” survived and assimilated into Native American culture rather than having been slaughtered by the native Americans as was believed.

    Which leads to the Dare Stones, a very well perpetrated hoax by a man who claimed to find stone tablets with inscriptions from the Roanoake colonist asking for any Englishman who finds the tablet to take it (or rather the information on it) to John White (Governor of Virginia) to inform him of Eleanor Dare and her daughter Virginia.

    Virginia Dare was the first child of European descent born in the continental US.


    FULL TEXT:

    ANANIAS DARE &
    VIRGINIA WENT HENCE
    VNTO HEAVEN 1591

    ANYE ENGLISHMAN SHEW
    JOHN WHITE GOVR VIA


    There is also a stone purported to be from Eleanor Dare herself:

    FULL TEXT:

    FATHER SOONE AFTER YOV
    GOE FOR ENGLANDE WEE CAM
    HITHER ONLIE MISARIE & WARRE
    TOW YEERE ABOVE HALFE DEADE ERE TOW
    YEERE MORE FROM SICKNES BEINE FOVRE & TWENTIE
    SALVAGE WITH MESSAGE OF SHIPP VNTO US SMAL
    SPACE OF TIME THEY AFFRITE OF REVENGE RANN
    AL AWAYE WEE BLEEVE YT NOTT YOV SOONE AFTER
    YE SALVAGES FAINE SPIRTS ANGRIE SVDDIANE
    MVRTHER AL SAVE SEAVEN MINE CHILDE
    ANANIAS TO SLAINE WTH MVCH MISARIE
    BVRIE AL NEERE FOVRE MYLES EASTE THIS RIVER
    VPPON SMAL HILL NAMES WRIT AL THER
    ON ROCKE PVTT THIS THEIR ALSOE SALVAGE
    SHEW THIS VNTO YOV & HITHER WEE
    PROMISE YOV TO GIVE GREATE
    PLENTIE PRESENTS
    EWD

    Modern Translation:

    Father, soon after you
    go for England, we came
    here. Only misery and war [for]
    two years. Above half dead these two
    years, more from sickness, being twenty-four.
    [A] Savage with [a] message of [a] ship came to us. [Within a] small
    space of time, they [became] frightened of revenge [and] ran
    all away. We believe it [was] not you. Soon after,
    the savages said spirits [were] angry. Suddenly
    [they] murdered all save seven. My child [and]
    Ananias, too, [were] slain with much misery.
    Buried all near four miles east [of] this river,
    upon [a] small hill. Names [were] written all there
    on [a] rock. Put this there also. [If a] Savage
    shows this to you, we
    promised you [would] give [them] great
    plenty presents.
    EWD.

    However the Dare Stones are far more likely to be a hoax than the Maine Penny.
     
  12. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Occam’s razor. Is it more likely that a European explorer lost the coin, or that Viking contact happened hundreds of years earlier than previously proven?

    I don’t even know why this is brought up.
     
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  13. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Well I mean let’s take a look at Occam’s Razor for a moment.

    Is it more likely that life would spring up from nothing or not?

    Honestly I think the likelihood of a European having a Norwegian coin at least 400+ years old and then coincidently losing it at the Goddard site is much less likely than our history books being incorrect about pre-Colombian contact.

    It would be like me coincidentally & accidentally losing my Roman denarius of Hadrian in an archaeologically significant site.

    Now if it was something like a 14th century British coin my opinion would be different since it’s very likely old British coins still circulated when Columbus arrived. But Norwegian? Why would a 16th century British person have an 11th century Norwegian coin 400+ years old?

    Back in the 19th century historians thought that the legendary city of Troy was a myth like Atlantis.

    Until amateur archeologist Heinrich Schliemann used clues from the Iliad and started digging and found Troy did exist in what is now Hisarlik, Turkey.

    9005E36C-1415-41FD-95A7-FDD08A6611BC.jpeg

    Oh and he found a cool mask!

    5A81691E-EB44-45A1-9C70-11734B297E60.jpeg

    Our knowledge of History is constantly evolving.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021
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  14. Robert Ransom

    Robert Ransom Well-Known Member

    I'll take theory #1 in the opening thread post.
     
  15. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Blake, you gotta remember that places such as Spain in the 16th century were still using Roman coins in regular circulation, coins over the 1,000 years old.

    And an archaeologically significant site to us does not mean it was anything special then.

    a single coin that was likely dropped by a random guy
    vs
    Proof of pre Colombian history that is not attested to in any text of note

    Occam is turning in his grave
     
  16. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Also, in regards to losing a valuable antique coin - I had a 1898 Indian Head Cent valued approx $25 in my pocket and I lost it at the gym. It happens. I wonder what the future archaeologists are gonna think of that one
     
  17. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    A lot of texts that were written are now lost. Even works by extremely famous writers like Livy have entire books missing.

    Plus it’s not outrageous to think maybe it just wasn’t written down because nobody who knew about it bothered with writing it down.

    Or maybe they didn’t return from their voyage so instead they were written about as crazy Vikings who sailed off the edge of the World not knowing they got stuck in North America.

    It’s not so much about a single person dropping a coin.

    It’s about a single person dropping a rare coin at an archeological site.

    For example if someone today in the US dropped a coin it would most likely be a modern American coin.

    What are the odds someone today would drop a Draped Bust Dollar?

    Practically zero since people today just don’t carry around Draped Bust Dollars and the ones who do have them would quickly notice it was missing and retrace their steps to find it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021
  18. JPD3

    JPD3 Well-Known Member

    If you find some ancient Chinese coins metal detecting around the tidewaters of Virginia, you might be onto something. I have read that the Chinese made it to the Eastern Seaboard of the US.
    To west of Norfolk, VA. Sarah Jackson’s story of discovery of “an ancient Chinese sailing ship” uncovered when the Great Dismal Swamp was first drained by George Washington and his friends-Bartlett Doty & William Kleisch investigating (02/03).
    See also Coronet Magazine, p. 34, January, 1945: “…When the government took over the Swamp and dredged some of the ditches, strange looking hulks of ships were found sunk in her marshes. One, a large Chinese craft, had to be cut through.” – Paul McNamee

    Theories with evidence of pre-Columbus abound.
    Danish in South America:
    https://snr.org.uk/snr-forum/topic/the-danish-viking-presence-in-south-america-1000-c-1250/

    Polynesians in Antarctica:
    https://www.livescience.com/indigenous-people-discovered-antarctica.html

    Africans discover the new world:
    https://face2faceafrica.com/article...ncient-malians-sailed-to-the-americas-in-1311

    Bottom Line...
    Never trust a sailor to keep course after he (she) has more than their ration of grog.;)
     
  19. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    More likely than some bearded guy in the clouds waved his magic wand...
     
  20. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    When I first read "America BC" by Barry Fell (check it out - entertaining), I was totally enamored of the author and was buying his stories 100%. I've become much more cynical since then.
     
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