Coins & Currency in Colonial America

17. Virginia Exercises its Rights  (1773 – 1774)

According to its charter, Virginia had the right to a coinage since 1606, but the colony waited until the eve of the Revolution to pursue the matter.  The result was the creation of the only colony-specific coinage ever fully authorized by the British Crown.  Virginia’s 1773 halfpenny has a fascinating history in Williamsburg, where more than 100 specimens have been recovered in archaeological digs.

Virginia Halfpenny, 1773

This Virginia halfpenny was found by archaeologists excavating the basement of the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, a building that was destroyed by fire in 1781.

Metal: Copper
Date: 1773
Size: 25 mm
Origin: England/Virginia

Proof Virginia Halfpenny, 1773

Slightly larger and heavier than the regular production halfpennies, this prototype coin was struck from specially prepared dies on a specially prepared copper planchet. The resulting coin, known as a "proof," is recognizable by its mirror-like surfaces and razor-sharp details.

Metal: Copper
Date: 1773
Size: 27 mm
Origin: England/Virginia

Virginia Shilling, 1774

During 1774, the Tower mint struck a small number of prototype Virginia shillings in silver. Perhaps the decline in Anglo-American relations prior to the outbreak of war prevented the issue of these silver coins. Also specially made proofs, only five examples are known today.

Metal: Silver
Date: 1774
Size: 25 mm
Origin: England/Virginia

 



© 2006 The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation