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  • General Introduction to Massachusetts Silver

    The Massachusetts Bay Mint Act of May 27, 1652

    The original act is found in three similar versions, a draft with revisions, a version passed by the House of Magistrates (on May 26th) and the version passed by the House of Deputies (on May 27th). See the "General Introduction to Massachusetts Silver" for additional information. All three versions are transcribed in Crosby,(a facsimile and transcription of the original draft of the legislation is on pp. 34-35, the House of Magistrates version is on pp. 36-37 and the version given below from the House of Deputies is on pp. 37-38). -- A note on the transcription below of the House of deputies version. The original is in a single long paragraph that I have broken down into its individual parts for easier reading. Explanations are added in brackets in smaller type. The letters u and v have been regularized and abbreviations have been spelled out. Capitalization, punctuation and spelling are original except where bracketed additions were necessary for easier comprehension.

    The act as recorded in the House of Deputies

    It is Ordered by this Court & the Authoritie thereof that the printed Order about money [the earlier counterstamping order] shalbe in force untill the first of the seventh month next [i.e. September] & no longer [the counterstamping order briefly had the force of law but was never implemented].

    And that from & after the first of September next the money hereafter appoynted & expressed shalbe the Current money of this Common wealth & no other, unles English, except the receivers consent thereunto. [Massachusetts and English coinage would be legal tender, no one would be obligated to accept foreign coins. This assumes the Boston mint will be in operation during the summer. Unfortunately this ideal situation of relying only on English denominated coinage never occurred. The hope was that all foreign silver coins would be melted down into Massachusetts shillings so only Massachusetts silver and a few English silver coins would remain in circulation]

    in persuance of the Intent of this court herein Be it further Ordered & enacted by the Authoritie of this court That all persons whatsoever have libertie to bring unto the mint howse at Boston all Bullion plate or Spanish Coyne there to be melted & brought to the Allay of Sterling silver by John Hull master of the said mint, & his sworne officers & by him to be Coyned into twelve pence Six pence & three pence peeces which shalbe for forme flatt & square on the sides [modified in committee to round rather than square] & Stamped on the one side with N E & on the other side with xiid. vid & iiid according to the value of each peece together with a privie marke which Shalbe appoynted every three monethes by the governor & knowne only to him & the sworne officers of the mint [Privy marks were not added. Clearly there were no marks on the NE coinage, but some have suggested variations in the geometic dot designs and backwards letters on the Oak and Pine Tree coins represented privy marks. I suspect these variations were probably not intentional and certainly were not changed every three months.],

    & further the said master of the mint Afforsaid is hereby required to Coyne all the said money of good silver of the Just allay of new Sterling English money & for value to Stampe two pence in a shilling of lesser valew then the present English Coyne & the lesser peeces proportionable [22.25% less silver than the English standard so a Massachusetts shilling of 12d would be worth 10d in English money].

    And all such Coyne as aforesaid shall be acknowledged to be Current coyne of this common wealth & pass from man to man in all payments accordingly within this Jurisdiction only.

    And the mint master for himself and his Officers for their payment &labour in meltinge refineinge & Coyninge is allowed by this court to take one shilling out of Every twenty shillings which he shall stampe as aforesaid, [based on a committee recommendation this fee was raised by vote of the General Court on October 28th to a fee of 15d per 20s minted and an additional 1d allowance per ounce of silver for waste],

    & It shalbe in the liberty of any person who brings into the mint howse any bullian plate or spanish Coyne as afforsaid to be present and se [see] the same melted & refined Allayed & then to take a receit of the master of the mint for the weyght of that which is good silver allayd as aforesaid, for which the mint master shall deliver him the like weight in Current money viz. every shilling to weigh three penny Troy weight [72 grains, as there are 24 grains per penny weight] & lesser peeces proportionably deducting allowances for coynage as before exprest.

    And that this Order beinge being of so great Concernment may not in any perticuler thereof fall to the ground It is further Ordered that mr Richard Bellingham mr William Hibbens [,] the present secrity [Edward Rawson was the secretary] Captain John Leveritt & mr Thomas Clarke to be a Committee appoynted by this court to appoynt the mint howse in some Convenient place in Boston to give John Hull master of the mint the oath suteable to his place & to approve of all other Officers & determine what else shall appeare to them as Necessary to be done for the Carying an End of the whole order,

    & that all other Orders concerning the Valuation or coyning of money past this court shalbe repealed [i.e. the earlier order mentioned at the start of the act].

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    Section Contents General Introduction to Massachusetts Silver

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