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One of the very first coins to have been struck in North America, it had been spotted by specialist James Morton in a collection of coins from Bywell Hall in Northumberland. It had been stored alongside other rare colonial issues in an old sweet tin.

New England shillings (around 40 are known to survive) assume a rudimentary and rustic design, bearing the punched initials NE for New England and the numerals XII (indicating the denomination of 12 pence). They were produced for a short period in May-June 1652 using silver bullion obtained mainly from the West Indies.

The coins were consigned by Hon Wentworth ‘Wenty’ Beaumont, whose ancestor William Wentworth (1616-97) arrived in New England in 1636.