Chronology of Colonial Massachusetts coinage

Ignacio A. writes: I am a Spanish translator working on a translation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tales, and I was making some investigation on a certain paragraph:

“Finally, he puts into his hand, at parting, a shilling of the Massachusetts coinage, stamped with the figure of a stubbed pine tree, mistaken by King Charles for the oak which saved his royal life”. (“Sir William Phips”)

I think the date of the story is 1652, if it might help. The idea is that I would like to briefly explain the story of the stamped image so the Spanish readers can understand the passage. Maybe you can help me or tell me some resource where I can investigate that. Sorry for the disturbance, I know this is not exactly a collector’s question, but I have been navigating for hours and I’m kind of desperate. Thanks. Ignacio A., Madrid

The author is referring to the Massachusetts Pine Tree Coinage (1667-1682). These coins were issued by the Massachusetts settlement in lieu of official coinage from England. The term “shilling” refers to a English coin denomination (12 pence= shilling – 20 shillings=1 pound). The central design of the coin featured a crude Pine tree (Pina arbol?)

The date of the story can’t be 1652 as the chronology of Massachusetts coinage is:

  • “New England” coinage – Only the letters NE struck on a silver blank – 1652
  • Willow Tree Coinage- 3 pence, 6 pence and shilling – 1653-1660
  • Oak Tree Coinage – 2 pence, 3 pence, 6 pence and shilling 1660-1667
  • Pine Tree Coinage – 3 pence, 6 pence and shilling – 1667-1682

Also see: 1652 Massachusetts Pine Tree Shilling – Large Planchet