1773 Colonial Virginia Halfpence with Period PCGS MS64 Red. This coin has the UNIQUE distinction of being the only fully authorized coinage having legal tender status and specifically minted for all or any part of the English colonies – those that eventually became the United States of America.
This means that all other coinages made for American colonial use prior to the American Revolution APPEAR to be unofficial token money!
PCGS Population: 38 certified as MS64 RED with two finer, both MS65.
The Virginia Colony enjoyed a royal authorization to mint it’s own coins as a part of it’s charter starting in 1609. For reasons unknown, perhaps because tobacco was the most trusted medium of exchange, Virginia did not exercise its right to strike coins for over 150 years.
On May 20, 1773 the Virginia Assembly passed an act authorizing coinage of the halfpence at the Tower Mint, pursuant to the original charter.
The Colonial Treasurer, however, refused to release the coins into circulation until a Royal Proclamation arrived from overseas allowed him to do so. By the time the proclamation was finally received, nearly a year later, the Revolution was on the verge of erupting into armed combat. Coins of all types, including the Virginia halfpence, were massively hoarded. Only 44 examples were dug up at Colonial Williamsburg, and all of these showed extensive wear from the natural use as money.
This might offer some insight as to why collectors today have the opportunity to acquire full mint red, or nearly so, uncirculated examples. Nearly all of the remaining examples were eventually found in a wooden keg in Richmond just before the Civil War. This keg was acquired by Baltimore resident Colonel Mendes Cohen, a famous coin collector during the 1870’s. Upon his death in 1879, this keg was inherited by his descendants. Fifty years later, in 1929 the family decided to sell the remaining collection to coin dealer Wayte Raymond.
The vast majority of those dispersed are red or more likely partly red, but show spotting or staining.