Skip to comments.Ancient coin has ironic currency[Massachusetts]
Posted on 06/03/2009 10:37:55 AM PDT by BGHater
NORTH TRURO As Truro celebrates its 300th birthday, one of its residents has unearthed a silver coin that's even older.
Peter Burgess, who owns a house next to Old North Cemetery and the site of an early church and meeting house, found a thin coin in his yard a year ago. He was moving dirt in his garden. He picked up the brown disc, which is about the size of a dime and bears markings near the edges.
The story of Burgess' find comes at a fortuitous moment, as this seaside village commemorates its incorporation on July 16, 1709. But the coin is also a great local rarity, according to Highland House Museum curator Mark Dooley. It's among the oldest documented artifacts in town, and the oldest identified coin by about 90 years, Dooley said.
"I've heard of people in the area finding older British coins," said Dooley. "But I've never come across one. It sounds like a really cool find."
It is precisely that, according to coin specialists but not so rare as to make Burgess a rich man.
"I thought, oh, boy, I've got something," Burgess said yesterday as he stood on the same spot in the garden where he first made the discovery.
Era of William III
The silver sixpence is most likely about 313 years old and from the 1689-1702 reign of William III of England, according to two coin specialists. Burgess spent months researching the coin, at times mistaking its origins, before nailing down its pedigree in January by e-mailing photos to Louis Jordan, head of special collections at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
A William III silver sixpence could sell for several thousand dollars or for around $100 or even less, depending on the condition, said coin expert and Truro homeowner John Reznikoff of University Archives in Connecticut.
The sixpence could have circulated in the American Colonies through about 1750, Jordan said.
In his garden yesterday, Burgess, a retired psychologist, laid open his palm to reveal the numismatic antique, worn smooth with age. It's only slightly heavier than a feather.
A clergyman's wages?
Burgess' family has owned property next to the historic cemetery since around 1959, and he and his wife have lived there full time for five years. Beyond their fence is the grave of the town's first ordained clergyman, the Rev. John Avery, who served the town for 45 years. Also bordering Burgess' garden are ruts from an older dirt road that would have dated from Truro's beginnings, said Truro Historical Society historian Dan Sanders.
Yesterday Sanders and Burgess mused that the coin might have belonged to Avery himself. He would have been among the few in town at that time paid in British coins, Sanders said. Avery's job back in 1709 paid 60 pounds a year, according to a local history book.
The sixpence would have amounted to about one-sixth of a day's work for him.
Burgess said he will likely donate the coin to a place where residents and visitors can enjoy it. "I'm not sure where that is yet," he said. He added that he'll also wait to see if anyone comes to claim it.
Peter Burgess compares a photo of the coin he found, at right, to a photo of one less worn showing the crowned shields and lion on sixpence from the reign of King William III of England, 1689-1702.
Peter Burgess stands at the spot in is garden where he came upon an unusual find, an English sixpence that was probably minted around the time of Truros incorporation. Truro is celebrating its tricentennial this year.
Another lucky find ping.
Gardening thread ping!
Maybe he actually found in the adjacent field...as in...found it in someones coffin!
Yikes...what a great place to grow stuff!
It is precisely that, according to coin specialists ....
It is precisely what? Cool? Cool is a generic word that's used in very general terms. Saying that something is cool is far from being precise.
His garlic is doing well!
"What do you do if you drop your car keys in Provincetown?"
"Kick 'em to Truro first!"
What backed this type of currency ?
Seems to me that even at face value, it’s better than finding a dollar on the ground.
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NO,NO, he said REALLY COOL. That’s much more precise and everyone knows exactly what he means.
The Truro residents have dropped their American yearning to be free and have elected a loyalist President who will degrade their freedom and revert America to a vast European colony.
“He added that he’ll also wait to see if anyone comes to claim it.”
Lol! “Hey, that’s my quarter!”
I have read the article but don’t get why the coin finding is ‘ironic’. What does that mean?
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