The first settlers in New England and Virginia brought many necessities with them for their voyage to the "New World." One item always in short supply was coinage to facilitate trade. The early 17th Century saw the onset of trade between native peoples and the colonists. Virtually all transactions between them were accomplished using a barter system. On November 15, 1637, the General Court of Massachusetts established the exchange rate for wampum (flat, holed, strung beads made of shell), at "6 a penny for any sume under 12d" (one shilling). Wampum, animal skins, nails and even lead musket balls were accepted in most colonies for trade. In Virginia, locally grown tobacco also served as a means of exchange. Coins of various countries occasionally circulated from colony to colony, but were always in very short supply and high demand.

Massachusetts was the first colony in English America to issue coins. A crude New England Shilling was struck at the Boston mint in 1652. These easily counterfeited coins were followed in 1653 by Threepence, Sixpence and Shillings of a Willow Tree design. Oak Tree and Pine Tree coins would follow in 1660 and 1667 respectively. This first attempt at monetary self-sufficiency would end, for Massachusetts, in 1682.

Other colonies would periodically mint coins. In addition, many privately issued tokens circulated among the colonies due to the constant and frustrating shortage of foreign coinage. Some were similar to European coins of the period featuring monarchs such as George II or George III of England. One early token (1694) used an image of an elephant on the obverse! Another series of tokens that was minted from 1783 to 1795 had various portraits of George Washington in uniform, sometimes wearing a laurel wreath. Washington, however, rejected these tokens as patterns because he felt that his portrait should not appear on United States coinage, as would a European monarch.

State issued coinage would not become a reality until the end of the American Revolution. Connecticut, beginning in 1785, issued a series of copper coins for 3 years that circulated on par with English half cents. Other States (Massachusetts, New Jersey, and even before statehood was granted, Vermont) would follow with their own copper coinage through 1788.

The opening of the Philadelphia Mint in 1793 essentially ended this period of state issued coinage. However, foreign coins and private mint tokens would continue to circulate through the mid 19th Century.

Most colonial coins in America saw heavy use. Today, well-worn examples of these coins see the light of day through archaeological digs or show up in the proverbial “dusty old attic.” The examples that we offer are of the highest investment grades available. To hold a coin in ones hand that perhaps witnessed the Salem Witchcraft Trials, or was used to purchase food during the Revolution, or may have been carried in the pocket of Adams, Jefferson or Franklin in Philadelphia; is indeed a special experience. These extremely scarce coins are a tangible, sought after link to the earliest days of what was to become The United States of America.