Colonial Lottery: Massachusetts Lottery Payment
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    Massachusetts Lottery

    Fourth Class Lottery Payment - Treasury Certificate


    Anderson  MA-17           Dated February 5, 1780

    Amount £15                 Certificate Number 257

    Dimensions: 149 x 226mm (border dimensions: 137 x 203mm, horizontal dimension measured from left edge of beaded border in the indented portion of the note to the right outside border).

    Certificate authorizing delayed payment (by January 1, 1783) with 6% to winners in the fourth class Massachusetts lottery. The lottery was authorized by the General Court on May 1, 1778 with the drawing to begin on January 26, 1780. The certificates were to be dated on the last day of the drawing which was February 5, 1780. The certificates for prizes of fifty dollars or less were probably remainder certificates from the third class lottery as they were issued with the right border cut off. The specific lottery class was only mentioned in the right border. In order to make the payments to the winners of the lottery the General Court authorized a tax on May 3, 1780 to "enable the Treasurer of this State to pay the prizes of fifty dollars and upwards, drawn in the 4th Class of the lottery." The higher payment certificates (Anderson MA-16) can obviously be distinguished by the larger payments (usually above £15) and because they carry the designation "Massachusetts State Lottery, Class the Fourth" in the right margin. Blank payment certificates were signed by a committee of John Scollay and Edward Green. When the date and amount was entered and the certificated was issued it was signed by the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, Henry Gardner. The signature was cancelled upon redemption.

    Comments: The second numeral 7 in the printed date on the certificate 177_ was changed by pen to read 8, to give a 1780 date. The signature of Gardner has been canceled with a pen. This certificate was printed from an engraved copperplate with a vignette of a pine tree encircled by a rattlesnake. The indented left border read "Massachusetts." Note that in the lower border design is the phrase, "Death to counterfeit this." Endorsed on the reverse by the redeemer of this certificate, Joshua Wyman. click here for the annotated back. At £15 Wymann was a winner of a $50 prize (in Massachusetts 6s equalled $1, that is a Spanish milled dollar, which is calculated at the standard rate of 20s to the pound). Anderson assigns this certificate a rarity of a low R6, designated as 21-30 surviving examples.

    Special thanks are due to Laurie McAvoy, who identified this certificate as a Fourth Class lottery payment (Anderson MA-17) rather than the similar and more common Third Class payment (Anderson MA-15). Information she provided in e-mails of June 8 and June 19, 2000 has been incorporated into this description.

    Provenance: Acquired from the EANA, January 13, 1996, Mail Bid Auction, Lot 900. Purchased through the Robert H. Gore, Jr., Numismatic Endowment.