1783 John Chalmers Shilling. Breen-1011. Short Worm. AU-58 (NGC). CAC.
NGC has mounted this coin with the reverse up in the holder. A privately issued coin from Maryland silversmith John Chalmers, this is a very scarce type. Chalmers is thought to have been one of the people who submitted coinage proposals to the Continental Congress. His entry/entries were not selected for a national coinage, however, but he did go on to issue his own coinage for local use--the need for such issues being dire given the general shortage of circulating specie in the United States during and after the Revolutionary War. Walter Breen (1988) interprets the unique reverse device with two birds fighting over a worm with a serpent in the distance behind a hedge as follows: "While you go on squabbling over trivialities [boundary disputes?], you don't notice what is coming to devour you!" A warning that a strong federal government was in the offing, Chalmers was obviously an advocate of states' rights. We can only imagine his disappointment when the strong federal government he feared became reality with the adoption of the Constitution in 1787.
Chalmers' Shillings come in two major types: Short Worm and Long Worm. The former is very scarce, while the latter is rare. Both types are equally challenging to locate with strong eye appeal, as they are often well worn and/or impaired. The example in this lot really is a lovely piece, the surfaces overall smooth with soft silver-gray color. Delicate silver-olive highlights are also evident, mostly around the peripheries. The strike is quite well centered (although not perfect in this regard) and all devices are fully on the planchet. The lower-right obverse and lower-left reverse are a tad weak, but the balance of the definition is bold. For the type, it is hard for us to imagine a more aesthetically pleasing example. Worthy of a strong bid!