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A Rare Example of the Sommers Island Sixpence Will be Offered in ANA

Rare Sommer Islands Sixpence Featured in our August 2019 ANA Auction

By James McCartney, Senior Numismatist

Author: James McCartney / Thursday, June 13, 2019 / Categories: United States Coin of the Week

​Rare Sommer Island Sixpence in our August ANA Auction​

As Britain's oldest American colony, Bermuda shares nearly 200 years of history in common with the United States before the North American provinces declared independence. The original foundation of the island colony is a direct result of the settlement at Jamestown, which was the earliest English settlement in Virginia and the oldest permanent English settlement in North America. The captain of the original voyage to Jamestown, Christopher Newport, led a third expedition to Virginia in 1609, but two of his nine ships were lost in a major storm and ran aground on Bermuda. The captain of one of those ships, Sir George Somers of the Sea Venture, became the new namesake of the islands.

It was Jamestown's John Smith who was the first to describe the Hogge coins of Bermuda in 1624, noting that his compatriots in Bermuda had "a certain kind of brass money, with a hogge on one side, in memory of the abundance of hogges which were found at their first landing."

We are proud to feature a significant Small Portholes sixpence from this series in our August 2019 ANA Auction. This example is traceable back to the collection of 19th century numismatist Charles H. Stearns, who was from the Boston area. Stearns was a prominent collector of colonial and early American issues who collected under the advisory of such luminaries as Mickley, Parmelee, Crosby and Appleton. Upon his death in 1904, the collection passed to his son Clinton and then later to his grandson George, upon whose death the collection was sold by Mayflower Coin Auctions in December 1966. The presently offered sixpence was lot 2 in the sale, noted as "probably among the finest extant." It remains a significant example of this issue over 50 years later, listed at the top of the BMA inventory for Small Portholes sixpence.

Just 12 distinct examples of this Small Portholes variety were inventoried in the 1997 work Coins of Bermuda, 1616-1996 by the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), including the present piece, while 19 coins were listed for the Large Portholes variety. While additional examples have emerged of each variety in the decades since this listing, the Small Portholes remains rarer and more desirable.

The offered specimen is a desirable mid grade example of this classic early colonial coin rarity. Although verdigris is prominent on both sides, the surfaces remain well composed. The legs and tail of the hog are readily discernible while the "fur" displays a stippled detail that is seldom encountered on survivors from the Sommer Islands series. Virtually all elements of the ship are intact on the reverse, with the broad horizontal panels of the hull clear and unobstructed. It is a quite sharp and pleasing example.

This rare Sommer Islands sixpence will be featured in our August 2019 ANA World's Fair of Money Auction, where it will be sold alongside incredible rarities from the Taraszka Collection, the ESM Collection, and many others. Contact us now to speak with a numismatic representative and include your coins in this exciting event. Call 800-566-2580 or email [email protected]. Also, download our mobile app to view and participate in our auctions via your Android or Apple device.