Two weeks ago, we published a quote from a newspaper article about a Lion Dollar found in a Pennsylvania field. Last week, Ray Williams questioned the story's facts on where the coin was minted. Here's the relevant quote:
Hallman's most worthy find — a 1643 Lion dollar made in Mexico for the Dutch. It was found in the same field where he discovered the hoe blade.
"It is the oldest silver coin in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware," he said. "The coin tells me when the first white influence was in this area. I recently donated it to the Mennonite Historians."
Joe Lasser writes:
I find it difficult to believe that counterfeit Lions were struck in Mexico during our colonial period. There was no specific incentive to create false coins in Mexico and it's not logical to think that someone could positively identify where a counterfeit was minted.
Mr. Hallman apparently has his story backwards. It is possible (and probable) that the Dutch Lion Dollar he found was made with Mexican silver. From about 1550 to 1750 65-70% of all the new silver that came into the world was from Spanish colonial Mexican and Peruvian (today's Bolivia) mines. As the arguably largest commercial sailing nation -- that did not have any silver mines -- it is completely logical and normal that Lion Dollars could -- and did -- reach Pennsylvania.
After all, the Dutch controlled the Colony of New York until the 1660's and some of the first paper money of New York in 1709 stated its value in Lion Dollars. Yes, there are "imitation" Lion Dollars minted in several other European countries -- primarily Italy and Germany -- although there is one from Transylvania -- that clearly illustrate the trade currency role of Lion Dollars. It was a "Bullion World" and Mr. Hallman's find is another small confirming episode.
Thanks for everyone's contributions on this topic. As we've seen many times, numismatic facts are easily mangled by the general public and deadline-pressed reporters.
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
1643 LION DOLLAR UNEARTHED IN PENNSYLVANIA FIELD
QUERY: DID THE SPANISH REALLY MINT LION DOLLARS IN MEXICO?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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