As noted in the previous article, this 2014 thesis by Dr. Beverly Straube is an extensive study of coinage in the early English
settlement at Jamestown, VA. Here's the Abstract. -Editor
‘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
Beverly Ann Straube
Traditionally, coins and exonumia found in archaeological contexts have been examined in a way that fails to utilize their full
potential for making substantive contributions to historical questions. Often bearing dates and/or dateable iconography, these numismatic
objects are used primarily to provide temporal data for archaeological contexts or sites; and, as material culture related to the economic
sphere, the function of these objects is assumed. When archaeological excavations in England’s North American colonies uncover European
coins and exonumia that are obsolete in their original countries of origin, they are often interpreted as items imported for the Indian
trade without consideration of their full social and cultural contexts.
Since 1994, archaeological excavations on the c. 1607-24 site of James Fort, the initial English settlement at Jamestown, have uncovered
over two hundred Dutch and English tokens and Irish coins that are both unusual for the Virginia context and are no longer current in their
original settings. This thesis examines this unusual group of base metal coins and exonumia found in the fort’s tightly dated discrete
contexts as evidence of an undocumented scheme of token currency in the early English colony.
The research incorporates a biographical approach to the data, weaving together numismatic scholarship, evidence from archaeological
contexts, and contemporary historical accounts. The use of token currency in Bermuda and Newfoundland, two early English colonies
established subsequent to Jamestown, provides evidence of parallel adaptive measures required to fulfil local needs in New World
settlements. In conclusion, familial and commercial links connecting the leaders of the Virginia enterprise, English governmental
officials, and the Royal Mint are suggested as agencies for the obsolete coins and tokens at Jamestown. Using numismatic objects as portals
to Jamestown’s past, this study demonstrates new understandings may be gained from beginning an historical inquiry with contextually
relevant material culture.
A brass Nuremberg jetton of Hans Krauwinckel II
To read the complete thesis, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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