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Virginia halfpenny.  Tower Mint, London, England, 1773.  Copper. OH: 1”.

Virginia halfpenny. Tower Mint, London, England, 1773. Copper. OH: 1”.

Gift of the Lasser Family

Numismatics

Botetourt Medal awarded by the College of William and Mary.  Thomas Pingo, London, England, 1772.  Gold.  OH: 1 ¾”.

Botetourt Medal awarded by the College of William and Mary. Thomas Pingo, London, England, 1772. Gold. OH: 1 ¾”.

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lee Burwell

Pine Tree shilling.  John Hull, Boston, Massachusetts, 1667-1674.  Silver.  OH: 1 1/5”.

Pine Tree shilling. John Hull, Boston, Massachusetts, 1667-1674. Silver. OH: 1 1/5”.

Gift of the Lasser Family

Continental $20 note.  Hall and Sellers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1775.  Paper and ink.  OH: 5"; OW: 2 1/2".

Continental $20 note. Hall and Sellers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1775. Paper and ink. OH: 5"; OW: 2 1/2".

Gift of the Lasser Family

Through the generosity of the Lasser Family, Colonial Williamsburg's collection of coins, medals, and currency associated with early America is one of the most comprehensive in existence. Primarily focused on the period 1500-1800, it contains thousands of specimens.

Because colonial America operated within a global economy, a wide range of gold, silver, and copper coins from many nations circulated in the colonies. Products from the Spanish mints in the New World were especially common and are well represented in the collection. Present, too, are comprehensive holdings in the coins of the colonial powers, including England, France, Holland, and other European countries.

The silver coins issued by the Massachusetts Bay colony between 1652 and 1682 are now iconic pieces of Americana. Colonial Williamsburg's holdings include more than 80 examples of the "New England," "Willow Tree," "Oak Tree," and "Pine Tree" types. Other early American issues include 1776 Continental dollars, confederation-era coins, and the first types struck by the fledgling United States Mint in the 1790s.

To alleviate the shortage of coins, paper money began to appear in America in the late seventeenth century, and it circulated extensively through the rest of the colonial period. Reflecting this pattern, hundreds of notes of diverse types from all colonies are represented in the collection. When the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, the Continental Congress authorized our first national currency; Colonial Williamsburg's assemblage of Continental Currency is complete for date and denomination.

Tokens and medals are also an integral part of early America’s numismatic story. Areas of strength in the collection include medals commemorating historical and military milestones, those celebrating George Washington, and a series made specifically for presentation to Native Americans between the early eighteenth and early twentieth centuries.

  • The Coins of Colonial America: World Trade Coins of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

    A look at an impressive collection of antique coins donated to the Foundation.

    Buy now

    Learn more

    By Joseph R. Lasser, Gail G. Greve, William E. Pittman, and John A. Caramia, Jr.

    An impressive collection of antique coins donated to the Foundation is the focus of this book. Joseph Lasser contributed an overview about currency in colonial North America and sections on "Latin American Origins," "Coins Powered World Trade," "Coins in Colonial America," and "A Williamsburg Merchant Counts His Money."

    47 pp.,
    4 color photographs,
    30 black-and-white photographs,
    6 drawings,
    6 x 9 1997;
    2nd printing,
    2000 CW No. 566364 Softbound
    ISBN 0-87935-181-0
    $9.95




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