The Extremely Rare 1652 Noe-18 Oak Tree Sixpence from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation Collection

Here we feature one of many highlights from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation Collection, a well pedigreed, thoroughly published, and extremely rare 1652 Noe-18 Oak Tree sixpence. A photo of this coin has graced the plates of the 1914 ANS Exhibition; Wurtzbach’s Plates of Massachusetts Silver (1937); Noe’s reference on Oak Tree Coinage (1947); Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia (1988); and Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins published by Whitman in 2009. Equally impressive, if not more so, is the who’s who of previous owners: H.O. Granberg; Charles E. Clapp; Carl Wurtzbach; T. James Clarke; F.C.C. Boyd; John J. Ford. The last time this coin appeared on the market was in our (Stack’s) sale of the John. J. Ford Collection of Massachusetts Silver Coins, October 2005, lot 47, where it realized $115,000.

The Noe-18 is an exceptionally rare variety, with only two confirmed specimens known, and this is the finer of them. It was missing from every other important collection of Massachusetts silver coins, including: Bushnell, Mills, Zabriskie, Earle, Bement, Jackman, Gschwend, Stearns, New Netherlands 48, New Netherlands 59, New Netherlands 60, Promised Lands, Norweb, Garrett, Roper, Picker, Oechsner, Hawn, Hain, and Partrick. The only other known example is pedigreed to the Parmelee Collection (1890) from which it was purchased by William Appleton. Subsequently, that Noe-18 was donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society. It was then sold by us (Stack’s) in our October 1970 Massachusetts Historical Society sale, lot 9, was purchased by the American Numismatic Society and will never again appear at market.  Stack’s Bowers has the distinct honor to be the only firm to sell both known examples of this rare variety.

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation Collection is the most complete collection of Massachusetts silver coins ever assembled, and presents a very important opportunity for advanced collectors of these historic coins. It will long be remembered among the great collections of colonial numismatics. If you are an avid collector of rare coins in general, or colonial coins specifically, be sure to review this important collection either in the catalog or online at If you are not on our mailing list, be sure to contact one of our auction services associates to receive your copy! We look forward to seeing you at lot viewing either in Irvine, New York, or at the venue in Baltimore. If you have any questions about any of the coins in the Henry P. Kendall Foundation Collection, be sure to contact Vicken Yegparian or Larry Stack. If you have rare colonial coins that you might be interested in consigning, we have several important auction venues to consign to; be sure to contact a consignment specialist for more information and to discuss your coins.

Below is the complete description by John Kraljevich:

Extraordinarily Rare Noe-18 Oak Tree Sixpence

Plated in Wurtzbach, Noe, Breen, and Bowers

Perhaps Unique in Private Hands

1652 Oak Tree Sixpence. Noe-18, Salmon-Unlisted. Rarity-7+. IN on Obverse. AU-50 (PCGS). 36.2 grains. 20.0 x 19.8 mm. A staggering rarity in the series, with the existence of just two specimens able to be confirmed. Described in our 2005 Ford XII sale as "N.18, Cr. 2-B, W[urtzbach] 25. R-7+ (conjectural, could be higher). 35.9 gns. Very Fine. The Noe Plate Coin. The Wurtzbach Plate Coin. The 1914 ANS Exhibition Coin (Plate 11). Both the obverse and reverse of this piece are a pleasing pale silver gray in color with a few areas of light gold and russet showing. Tree quite indistinct but trunk, branches, and some root detail visible. Letters in the legend on the soft side where present on the flan. Fairly well struck in the center of the reverse, peripheral letters in the legend most sharp where present on the flan. Obverse considerably off center to the lower left with quite a bit of extra metal showing beyond the outer beaded border on the upper right. Reverse slightly off center to the lower left, portions of the letters on that side run off the flan. Some light reverse marks, one small dig below the date." A few tiny specks of amber colored museum wax cling below V, E, and T of MASATHVSETS, as they did in the 1947 Noe plate. Some little scratches are seen within the retrograde 2 in the date, dull dent under 1, diagonal scratch below 16, a few little old hairlines just right of 6:00 at the obverse periphery. The eye appeal is strong and natural, with superior originality and no disfiguring marks or other flaws.

Missing from Bushnell, Mills, Zabriskie, Earle, Bement, Jackman, Gschwend, Stearns, New Netherlands 48, New Netherlands 59, New Netherlands 60, Promised Lands, Norweb, Garrett, Roper, Picker, Oechsner, Hawn, Hain, and Partrick, along with pretty much every other sale one can name. In fact, there appear to have been only three auction appearances of this variety ever: the 1890 Parmelee sale, whose precise description allows us to all but confirm that it was the same coin that reappeared in the William S. Appleton-Massachusetts Historical Society sale (Stack’s, October 1970); and this coin’s appearance in our 2005 Stack’s sale after selling privately since time immemorial. In fact, it appears our firm is the only one to ever sell a specimen of this variety aside from New York Coin and Stamp, which went out of business a little more than a century ago. The only other confirmed specimen (Parmelee-Appleton-MHS-Stack’s 10-70:9) was purchased by the American Numismatic Society and will never again appear at market. Breen apparently claimed there were four or five of these at one point, but was only able to plate this one in his Encyclopedia (in an image borrowed from Noe) and cite the MHS one. If there are others, where are they?

Salmon and some others have argued that this variety was not struck at Hull and Sanderson’s mint, casting the same aspersion on Noe-15 and Noe-17. We find the identical weight standard, letter forms, striking methodology, die recutting methodology, depth of engraving and strike, and overall fabric to be powerful evidence to the contrary. This die variety almost certainly started life as Crosby 4-C (Noe-17), heavily recut but not enough to make it unrecognizable.

The only recorded sale of this specimen, the finer of two confirmed, realized $115,000 in 2005.

From our sale of the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, October 2005, Lot 47. Earlier, in the collection of H.O. Granberg when published on Plate 11 of the 1914 ANS Exhibition; Charles E. Clapp to Carl Wurtzbach to T. James Clarke to F.C.C. Boyd. An original Wurtzbach ticket noting the provenance accompanies this lot. Plated in Wurtzbach’s 1937 Massachusetts silver plates. Plated in Sydney Noe’s 1947 The Oak Tree Coinage of Massachusetts. Plated in Walter Breen’s 1988 Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins. Plated in Q. David Bowers’ 2009 Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins.

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