Die alignment: 360°. Boldly struck peripheries encompass more softly struck centers, as is generally the case on these rare post-Colonial issues, of which perhaps two dozen pieces are known. The uniquely expressed date -- JULY 4 90 -- is boldly distinct on this threepence, while BALTIMORE is faint at LTI. The central portrait is a bit soft on the face, but retains clear features. The reverse is representative of known examples at this grade level and even above. The central THREE PENCE is quite weak, a characteristic seen on even the finest known pieces. Most of Barry's name is clear, though the initial ST of his first name and final Y of BARRY are faint. The planchet is slightly out of round, and the strike is a touch off-center toward 12 o'clock. This piece shows no sign of the prominent die cracks visible on both sides of the magnificent MS64 example -- the finest known in private hands -- sold by us in January 2015 as part of the Donald G. Partrick Collection.
Standish Barry of Baltimore was one of two Maryland silversmiths to take it upon themselves to strike silver coins in the years between the end of the Revolutionary War and the establishment of the Mint at Philadelphia, John Chalmers having struck several types of silver coins in Annapolis in 1783. Both coinages saw extensive circulation, judging from the condition of surviving examples. Beyond the simple need to provide a circulating medium, however, the exact motivations behind the coining of the Barry threepence are uncertain. The unusually precise date -- beautifully preserved on this example -- has led to speculation that it may have been issued to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, though Independence Day as such was inconsistently and mostly unofficially observed at the time.
The identity of the obverse figure has also been the subject of much speculation, with Barry himself and George Washington being the most commonly proposed identifications. In the Spring 2009 issue of the C4 Newsletter, however, Max B. Spiegel discussed his discovery of an 1843 article from the Baltimore Sun stating that the figure depicted was James Calhoun, who was serving in a position analogous to Mayor in Baltimore on July 4, 1790. Comparison of contemporary portraits of Calhoun and the threepence's obverse figure strongly suggest that this attribution is accurate. An exciting opportunity to acquire this classic early American rarity. Listed on page 77 of the 2018 Guide Book.
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