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Oak tree threepence

Pictured here is one of the earliest coins to be struck in what eventually became the United States of America. It’s an oak tree threepence, so called because of the tree on the obverse. This coin was given a detailed write-up on my website last April, amongst a number of other finds that had recently appeared on the PAS database, see Massachusetts three pence piece.


The finder of this coin wished to remain anonymous but he said he was trying to obtain a true valuation figure, so he contacted me. This is a very unusual and rare coin and in cases like this valuation figures will always vary.

As I’m always saying: it cannot be stressed too strongly that the main factor in relation to the value of any coin is its state of preservation; whilst there is a ready market for specimens in good condition, the same coins in the lower grades can struggle to attract a buyer, even when catalogue and previous sale prices are heavily discounted. This oak tree threepence would grade good Fine for the issue but it has a significant defect: a large hole. The hole would deter many numismatists from bidding for it.

Last year a specimen grading Fine to good Fine was sold at auction in London and the hammer price was £2,500. I traced another specimen (good Fine but pierced and cracked) on ebay and the asking price was $1,395.

If I was cataloguing this coin for sale at auction then I would set the pre-sale estimate at £600 to £800 and would hope for the best. The hole is a real killer but even with it there would still be some completion between prospective buyers in a saleroom. However, the wealthiest buyers would certainly prefer a specimen without a hole.

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