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Lot 30254

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 30254
/Catalog #
Grade 25
Service NGC
Denomination 2PENCE
Description (1615-6) 2PENCE Sommer Islands Twopence, Small Star VF25 NGC. Encyclopedia-7, BMA Type One, W-11400, Low R.7. Ex: Brock. 14.2 grains. Die rotation is slightly greater than 90 degrees. The Eric P. Newman Sommer Islands twopence is composed of 90% copper and 10% tin. Considerable pewter-gray tinning (traditionally called silvering) remains on the surface of this lightly corroded but attractive Sommer Islands piece, with light brown on the worn high points. The hog is complete with detail on the obverse, and much of the ship remains visible on the reverse. Border beads are evident at the upper obverse, and around much of the reverse. Minuscule planchet cracks are evident at 2 o'clock and 3:30 relative to the obverse. Design The obverse features a hog facing left as the central design motif, with the Roman numeral II, for twopence, above, and a star, sometimes called a flower, between the hog's middle two legs (left front and right rear). The reverse motif is a two-masted ship with the letter S to the left, and I to the right, abbreviating Sommer Islands. The difference between the size of the small and large stars is minuscule, and these varieties are difficult to attribute. The Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins notes that the elements of II are the same height on the Small Stars variety, and that the first I is high on the Large Stars variety. In that reference, Q. David Bowers rates each variety as URS-4, defined as five to eight known examples. Historical Observations Why are the Sommer Islands coins considered "United States" colonial coins if they are from the Bermuda archipelago? In the early 17th century, there were two Virginia Company entities, the Virginia Company of Plymouth settled in New England, while the Virginia Company of London established the southern colonies of the New World, including Jamestown in 1607. At the time, Bermuda was part of the second Virginia Company. Explorer Juan de Berm�dez discovered the islands when he landed there a century earlier in 1505. On another voyage slightly more than a quarter-century later, in 1532, Berm�dez was shipwrecked, and his knowledge of the area from his previous visit saved his life. Several live hogs from his cargo were saved, and multiplied over time, providing the symbol of the islands depicted on these coins. Sir George Somers sailed from London for Virginia in 1609 on the Sea Adventurer (also known as the Sea Venture), and was separated from his fleet during a hurricane, when he landed on the islands. At the time, they were known as the Bermoothes or Hogge Islands. Somers and his crew claimed the land for England and remained there for several months while his crew built new ships to continue their voyage to Virginia. Today, many numismatic students believe the ship depicted on the reverse of the Sommer Islands coinage is the Sea Adventurer. Mark A. Sportack addresses the spelling variants of the Sommer Islands in "The Myths and Mysteries of the Somers' Ilands Hogge Money," in the 2006 Money of the Caribbean edited by Richard Doty and John Kleeberg: {blockquote}"Somer's Islands, Somer's Isles, Summer Isles, Sumer Islands, Sommer's Ilands: the spelling variations seem endless. All are spellings found in historical accounts of the mercantilist colonial settlement of the archipelago that would come to be known as Bermuda."{/blockquote} Commentary Only two or three examples of the Sommer Islands twopence are known in grades better than Fine. Most survivors are in lower grades, and many are impaired, usually with moderate to heavy corrosion. Planchet cracks and fissures are the norm. The Sommer Islands coins were all considered extremely rare until recent times. Many have been discovered as a result of metal detector enthusiasts and archeological explorations, including 19 pieces found on Castle Island in the 1990s. Census There is no accurate census of the Sommer Islands twopence, although several have been attempted. The finest we have seen include the VF-XF Brand specimen now at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the VF30 Norweb specimen, this example from the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society, and an example graded VF25 PCGS that we handled in the 1999 ANA sale. Possibly as many as 20 examples of the two varieties are known. Provenance Ex: Jacob Giles Morris; Col. Robert C.H. Brock; University of Pennsylvania; Philip H. Ward, Jr; C.J. Dochkus; F.K. Saab; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. Eric P. Newman notes that he traded "a few $20 gold" for the set of four. Newman's envelopes for the four pieces total $1,350. Realized $64,625.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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