John Hull’s Oak Tree Coinage

In the Oak Tree coinage of 1660 to 1667 we find the only coin of Hull’s four New England series’ to be dated other than 1652. The twopence, a new denomination for the Massachusetts coinage, was authorized by the General Court on May 16, 1662 and all twopence bear the 1662 date. This gives further credence to the theory that the dates on Hull’s New England coinage represent the year the coins were authorized rather than the year they were minted.

In addition to the new twopence, the threepence, sixpence, and shilling denominations continued with the new design. And not only did the design change, but it’s very evident even to the casual observer that the technique of manufacture improved greatly as well. Where the earlier Willow Tree coins were obviously hand struck we now have the Oak Tree coins being struck with fixed dies on uniform planchets. In fact, all Oak Tree coinage (and some early Pine Tree coinage) was struck in a rocker press. Minting technology took a leap to mechanization in 1660!

According to Bowers, the Oak Tree term was used to describe the design by collectors at an early time. Besides the twopence, the date and legends remained the same, the tree being the only design change.

Oak Tree pieces are far more often encountered than the Willow Tree and “NE” coins. Collectors who want a specimen of the Massachusetts coinage usually must limit themselves to the Oak or Pine Tree series. More on Hull’s final design, the Pine Tree, coming up!

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