1783 John Chalmers Threepence. W-1760. URS-7. EF-40 (PCGS).
Exceedingly Rare 1783 John Chalmers Threepence
The private coinage of Annapolis, Maryland goldsmith and silversmith John Chalmers was made on his accord to combat the abuses then being practiced with the cutting of Spanish silver 8 reales into their fractional parts. In order to reduce the number of fractional pieces that had been cut down into parts that were too small, Chalmers offered to exchange those pieces for his own silver coinage, charging a commission to the exchanger. Chalmers offered silver pieces in threepence, sixpence and shilling denominations, the dies for which seem to have been engraved by Thomas Sparrow, who also engraved plates for Maryland paper currency. The Chalmers pieces were produced in Annapolis at the corner of Fleet and Cornhill streets. Judging by the number of examples extant, the shilling seems to have been produced in the greatest quantity, and it is the denomination seen most often in today's market. In truth, however, all John Chalmers silver pieces are very scarce to rare, and most are heavily worn to suggest widespread circulating for the series even though it was issued without official sanction.
Writing in the 2009 book Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins, Q. David Bowers states:
The [Chalmers] threepence is exceedingly rare. Remarkably, this denomination was lacking in the Ford Collection.
Indeed, this is the first Chalmers threepence that this cataloger (Jeff Ambio) has handled in more than 12 years as a professional numismatist working for some of the industry's largest and most influential auction houses. The coin is richly toned in warm, even, olive-charcoal patina with subtle rose-gray highlights in the centers. We note a bold strike that prevents very well even despite the presence of light wear. Aside from a few tiny abrasions and even more minor pitting in the planchet (the latter as made), the surfaces are free of mentionable blemishes; in fact, both sides present as smooth to the unaided eye. Seldom offered at even the largest numismatic gatherings, this delightful piece is earmarked for inclusion in the finest specialized cabinet.
Pedigree: From the Howard Collection. Purchased privately from Don Taxay in the 1970s. Paper envelope with Taxay's original notes included.