coinfodder's Blog

17 Feb 2021

The Fifty States of Coinage- Part 21- Massachusetts

Coins-United States | coinfodder

As we continue our little gaunt up and down the Atlantic Coast (at least for the last 3 installments of our journey), we stop in the land of lobster rolls, Clam Chowder, and crab products galore. Welcome to Massachusetts...

Officially known as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the state was originally settled by tribes like the Wampanoag, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Pocomtuc, Mahican, and Massachusett. Before the Pilgrims arrived in 1620, a bad strain of smallpox killed about 90% of the Indian tribes in the region. The first Europeans arrived on the Mayflower, in 1620, after missing the colony of Virginia several hundred miles to the South. After a hard winter, the Indians and Pilgrims had a feast which is retroactively known as "The First Thanksgiving". Once the Puritans arrived in Massachusetts, small religious conflicts would break out, with dissenters being flogged and imprisoned. In 1692, these conflicts hit inside the Puritans community itself, in the city of Salem, in which plenty of people were killed, and even a dog. This rocked the Puritan community, which soon lost influence in the colony.

Later, as the center of the American Revolution, stemming from the Boston Massacre, Tea Party, broke out in the cities of Lexington and Concord, several miles out from Boston. General Washington soon took 50 cannons captured by Henry Knox at Ft. Ticonderoga and retook Boston, under control of the British. After the war and furthering the need to scrap the Articles of Confederation, was Shays' Rebellion, which wrought havoc in Massachusetts, and nearly took the federal armory. Later, in 1788, the state became the sixth to ratify the US Constitution.

After the American Revolution, the state became a hotbed for abolition and became the heart of the industry for America. During the Civil War, the state gained notoriety for having the first African American regiment in the US Army, known as the 54th Massachusetts, with a white commander. During the Great Depression, as industry left Massachusetts for the empty South, the industrial might of the state collapsed, especially with the closure of the Springfield Armory. In the 2000's, some very corrupt politicians in the state took a good idea and screwed it up, spending way too much money and making many people rich. This perfectly-good-idea turned bad by the government is known as the Big Dig. In 2013, two pressure cooker bombs exploded before the finish of the Boston Marathon, shocking the city.

Today, Massachusetts is state with a coastal economy, catching lots of seafood, with a rapidly decreasing industrial capacity. Famous citizens include the Kennedy's, Henry Thoreau, Cotton Mather, Jack Kerouac, John Singleton Copley, Patrick Ewing, Rocky Marciano,Bette Davis, Jack Lemmon, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Aerosmith, The Adams (no, not the horror comedy), and Eli Whitney. My, what a laundry list of names!

For the 21st time, first to mind for any beginning collector and the more experienced are the quarters from the 50-state series and America the Beautiful (ATB) quarters. On the 50-state quarter, is a minuteman, based off of the statue at Lexington, with a facsimile of the state behind him. Next to the state, is the motto, “The Bay State”.

And on the ATB quarter, is Lowell NHS. Lowell was one of the first industrial powerhouses in the nation, and today, you can visit the industrial place where you can tour the canals and visit the place where young children worked their heads off (unlike many ADULTS I know today) for little pay. The coin was released in 2019, with the “W” mintmark variant released in April of that year. Oh 2019, what a good year you were.

In 1925, before the Stone Mountain half-dollar made its debut, the Lexington-Concord commemorative half came out. On the obverse, is view I saw several years ago at Lexington Green, The Concord Minuteman, by Daniel Chester French. On the reverse, is a church belfry, which called the minuteman to face the regulars (not redcoats). The battle of Lexington was a lost cause from the beginning, with 75 minuteman militia facing off against 800 British troops. Then, the pursuing Brits were defeated at Old North Bridge in the neighboring city of Concord, keeping the rebellion in Massachusetts alive and the nation.

In 1776, the year the 13 colonies declared independence from the mother nation, the colony of Massachusetts Bay created their own copper coinage. According to the Mega Red Book of Coins, little is known about their origins, and yet we know that three varieties were created. A majority of the issues today are unique. One issue is the Pine Tree copper, with the obverse having a pine tree, and the back having the goddess of liberty with a liberty cap. If you are looking to buy, get ready to bribe a museum owner. This issue is unique with ownership under the Mass. Historical Society.

The second known issue is the Indian copper and is in VG state. The Indian is holding a bow and is ready to hunt something. It was overstruck, due to a copper shortage, on a British half-farthing. This issue is also unique.

The third known issue is the Janus copper, and on the observe, is the Roman god Janus, the two headed god, the god of decisions (I need something from him. I am a short, indecisive fool). On the reverse, like the Pine Tree and Indian copper before it, the goddess of liberty is on the reverse. This issue is also unique.

After independence, a set of private coinage was created for the state before the Constitution set for a uniform currency. They all have Indians on the obverse, with an eagle with arrows bouncing around from talon to talon, depending on issue. These were minted until after Shay’s rebellion.

Thank you everyone, from the golden keyboard, we will continue our road trip later!

Link to Numismaster’s Numismastery- https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Wi6UyPyooa8EbwdPHY6nf2Z5JGKVfIaS

Link to Centsearcher’s Loupe Newsletter. On his behalf, I am asking for subscribers. It is completely free. -www.numismastery.weebly.com

Guess the song lyrics: Last Week- Maniac from Flashdance, Michael Sembello.

Until we dance into the fire
That fatal kiss is all we need
Dance into the fire
To fatal sounds of broken dreams
Dance into the fire
That fatal kiss is all we need
Dance into the fire

The choice for you is the… (hint: Moore’s final Bond outing)



Level 5

History and coins, I loves it, nice blog!


Level 5

I have visited Boston twice now, and it would have been two more times if it weren't for covid. Very nicely done, thanks for the informative blog!

Long Beard

Level 5

Massachusetts is one state I have yet to visit, sort of. In 2007 I rode to New Hampshire for Bike Week in Laconia. It rained nearly every day, so I only made it as far as Lowell. Someday I'll go back since I'm fascinated with early American history.


Level 5

Nice blog with lots of history!


Level 7

First and foremost again you saved me. I got a chance to read a real blog!! A blog that teaches us history from a coin. A blog that held my interest. Something enjoyable to read. . This is learning. Coins give us that chance. Thank you . I appreciated it. Washington decided that we should have a day of thanksgiving. Then Lincoln put a bill through. In 1863. Smack in the middle of the civil war!. Keep them coming!!


Level 6

Thanks for an interesting blog! I appreciate your research! ; )


Level 5

Very nice information... Thanks for sharing! I visited Massachusetts as a young kid LONG before I found numismatics! Much of this was new to me. Also, read my forum thread when you get a chance... I would love to heard your advice! Later!

It's Mokie

Level 6

Interesting the Minute Man statue is featured on two of the issues. I visited Massachusetts as a youngster, my most vivid memory was all the Kennedy souvenirs at every gift shop.


Level 5

Lots of history and heritage. The janus copper is nice. See you on the road at the next stop.

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