The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 32, August 9, 2015, Article 10


Katie de Silva forwarded this article about a recent coin find in Virginia. Thanks! -Editor

Jamestown Irish-Penny The excavation of the cellar of a building and a well that stood outside of the walls of James Fort has yielded Irish pennies, minted by the English between 1601 and 1602. The coins fell into disuse when the Irish rejected them, however. Mary Outlaw, curator of collections for the Jamestown Rediscovery Project, told that one of the earliest colonists, the son of an official at the Royal Mint, may have brought the coins to the colony, since more Irish pennies have been found on Jamestown Island than anywhere else in the world. The team has also recovered the matchlock firing mechanisms for two muskets.

Here's some more information from the referenced newspaper article. -Editor

Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists may have been busy identifying the four founders of the Jamestown colony who were unearthed in gravesites under the church for the past 20 months, but that did not stop them from continuing to dig elsewhere.

Work continues to excavate what is believed to be the cellar of a building that once stood outside the walls of James Fort. The team has been working on the area since last year, digging through an area believed to be a well.

In the last month, the cellar has produced several noteworthy artifacts, including gun parts and rare coins.

Jamestown irish pennies The coins are what is known as Irish pennies. The English minted them in 1601 and 1602 and tried to introduce them as currency in Ireland, however the Irish rejected the coins and they quickly fell into disuse.

Jamestown Island has proven to be the single largest source of the coins in the world, said Merry Outlaw, the curator of collections for the Jamestown Rediscovery Project.

She said the coins may have been brought to Jamestown to be used as an internal currency during the colony’s earliest days. The Irish rejection of the coins left no use for them in the Old World.

One of the earliest colonists was the son of the top official at England’s Royal Mint and may have been the catalyst in getting the coins to the New World. The coins are about the size of a U.S. penny and feature images of harps and Latin writing along the edges.

To read the complete articles, see:
Artifact Update from Virginia’s James Fort (
Jamestown Unearthed: Archaeologists Find Gun Parts, Rare Coins in Cellar Pit (

I reached out to archaeologist Merry Outlaw, who provided the following information on the coins. Thanks. -Editor

Like all artifacts recovered during our archaeological excavations, coins are cataloged. After cataloging, most artifacts are housed in archival boxes, which go into long term storage with easy access for future specialized studies.

A few representative, special, or unique artifacts from each feature are placed in our readily available study collection. Coins are among the items pulled for our study collection.

Coins are treated by our professionally trained conservation staff when they come into our laboratory. They are cleaned and consolidated using best conservation practices. We do not photograph each one. A few representative examples are on display in our museum, the Archaearium, but most are housed in our study collection.

The early coinage at Jamestown was the topic of an informative and beautifully written doctoral dissertation by Beverly Straube, our former curator. You will find her dissertation at this link: ‘And he that in Virginia shall copper coin receive’ : Explicating an undocumented fiscal scheme in the early English settlement at Jamestown through the archaeological evidence (

Thanks! I was delighted to learn of Dr. Straube's thesis, and hope E-Sylum readers will take note of it. -Editor

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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