COLONIAL GOLD
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12 posts in this topic

I've been working on a type set of foreign coins that were commonly used in the colonies, or for that matter in the United States into to the 19th century.

Since gold was not "common" I've delayed including gold in the set, but being a typical obsessed collector, I need to keep feeding the set and am turning to gold. 

I've come up with:

2 escudos, "pistole"

4 escudos "doubloon"

Portugese "moidore", 4000 reis.

6400 reis of Johannes V, "half Joe"

Guinea

Louis d'Or 

Any comments?

Many thanks. 

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As I continue to noodle around the internet, it seems that a "doubloon" may have different relative values, but I find 2 (not 4) escudos to be the most common, same as the pistole. Also, the Louis d'Or was also called a "pistole", so the vernacular "pistole" was applied to other coins with similar gold content as the 2 escudos.

BTW the "half Joe" (the 6400 reis) of Portugal appears often, so it may have been among the more popular coins used for large transactions, whereas I would have assumed a Spanish or Spanish colonial dominated. The term "Joe"  refers to Johannes V of Portugal, who appears on the obverse of many of these, although I would guess that the term was applied loosely to coins of similar weight or showing other monarchs. A "Joe" is a 12,800 reis coin - I've decided to hold off on that one as I've seen more references to the "half Joe" (& budget).

Roger, I haven't run into a comprehensive source, yet. PCGS has a registry set defined, but it includes some dubious (based on VERY limited knowledge) components, like the Netherlands ducat. Since foreign coins were used extensively, almost exclusively, in the early going, I'm surprised that this collecting area seems somewhat neglected, although I've only scratched the surface. C4 gets into these, but has anyone tackled the whole subject? 

I'm having great fun with this and have added types found in Jamestown and Williamsburg and by detectorists, many of which are unusual, being from countries like Germany, Sweden, and Hungary. 

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An interesting (to me anyway) tidbit is that counterfeit coins, especially of GIII, turn op frequently. Yet, the major TPA's won't slab them unless they're a Machin's Mills or "local" product. Seems very silly - a local counterfeit is ok but not a contemporary counterfeit produced in England. An important part of our history just doesn't make the cut. 

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The Mint was under persistent requests to determine the specie value of foreign coins - silver and gold. Here's one for the India rupee. I'll send you a PM with pages for some 1805 assays.

884670153_17980402AssayofforeigngoldIndia.thumb.jpg.d5076411c14c940bbd90b35e8f44c228.jpg

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Schilke and Soloman's America's Foreign Coins" lists 319 different gold coins from 7 countries that possessed legal tender status in the US from 1793-1857. Most are multiple listings of the same coins, but with different designs and/or dates. It appears your list contains most, if not all of the different types. These, of course, could be subdivided further into different denominations and designs.

Great idea for a set, by the way. (thumbsu

Edited by Just Bob
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Thanks Bob. And thanks for identifying the subject reference, I'll see if I can track it down. I thought/hoped that someone must have tackled this comprehensively. Trying to keep the set reasonable. I read that an ancient was found here by detectorists, so I need to draw the line somewhere. Anything and everything must have been used. Started as an extension of my colonial type, which started as an extension of my federal type. Keeps me out of the bars. 

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If you concentrate on coins used by merchants, your should be able to establish a reasonable boundary. Cons used by the general public, would, of course, be different and exclude most gold.

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On 3/8/2022 at 12:00 PM, RWB said:

If you concentrate on coins used by merchants, your should be able to establish a reasonable boundary. Cons used by the general public, would, of course, be different and exclude most gold.

Good advice, thanks Roger. Amazon is sending me Shilkie and Solomon today (small miracle and thanks again Bob). Should give me lots of clues if sources are documented.  

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On 3/9/2022 at 11:38 AM, LINCOLNMAN said:

Good advice, thanks Roger. Amazon is sending me Shilkie and Solomon today (small miracle and thanks again Bob). Should give me lots of clues if sources are documented.  

I haven't shopped for a copy lately, but I have to admit that I am surprised you found one that easily. Copies of that book have been scarce in the past. I was actually going to reply and wish you good luck in your hunt. Congrats on scoring one so quickly.

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On 3/9/2022 at 11:49 AM, Just Bob said:

I haven't shopped for a copy lately, but I have to admit that I am surprised you found one that easily. Copies of that book have been scarce in the past. I was actually going to reply and wish you good luck in your hunt. Congrats on scoring one so quickly.

Excellent reference including a great deal about US coinage acts up to 1857, the history of these coins and federal coins as well. Focuses solely on legal tender coinage addressed by congress from 1793 (silver and gold), so it is limited if one is collecting copper or coins less frequently used, particularly earlier than 1793. Eric Newman contributed. Can't believe this is new to me, should have been part of my library. I've already added a couple of coins to my want list. These are coins addressed as legal tender but I would guess not encountered with regularity "in the wild". English crown and 8 escudos or "doubloon" (according to official documents). 

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