The "worm" is the squiggly, vertical line between the two
birds, NOT the horizontal snake in the upper half of the circle. A
quick way to tell the difference between the two varieties is to look at
the worm: on the "Long Worm" variety, the worm is heads-up
while on the "Short Worm" variety, the worm is
upside-down. Both varieties share the same reverse.
PCGS EF-40. Ex - Paul Arthur Norris - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins
& Collectibles, Inc.'s "Pre-Long Beach Sale", September 23
& 24, 2002, Lot 39, illustrated, where it was described as follows:
"Breen-1011. PCGS graded EF-40 "Short Worm". A rare
silver colonial issue, this one from the state of Maryland. No official
authorization exists for the coinage, but similarly no law prevented
Capt. John Chalmers from making these coins of honest weight and
fineness. The surfaces of this coin are particularly pleasing, toned
with darker gray in the fields, and lighter silvery gray devices.
Excellent surfaces and strike, the coin is well centered and preserved
in every way. There are no identifying marks or characteristics worth
describing. PCGS has graded a scant 5 this high, 5 graded higher (best
AU-55) of this variety.
Breen and others suggest that the worm being fought over by the two
birds is really a snake. Note that the so called worm has a head which
is much larger than the body, as seen in the snake above and outside the
fence above the birds. Further, a worm would be proportionately much
smaller than depicted here. He also interprets the scene portrayed on
the obverse as "While you states go on squabbling over trivialities
[boundary disputes?], you don't notice what is coming over to devour
you", referring to the larger snake above. He goes on to say that
this is a warning that a strong centralized government (the large snake)
might well destroy the hard-won status of individual states as
independent sovereign entities under the Confederation.
Given the fineness and value of the coins produced, it is unlikely that
Chalmers made any money with his venture. Perhaps Chalmers hoped to win
a coinage contract with the state of Maryland, and these much needed
silver coins are all that remains of his proposal. Perhaps these were
more for advertising the family business rather than a coinage for
profit motive. Most are found in well worn condition, and they were
struck in three denominations, shilling, sixpence and threepence, all of
which are fairly to extremely rare."
EF-40. Ex –
American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,”
July 25, 2003
74, "Breen-1012, rare long worm type", illustrated, sold for
VF-35. Superior Stamp & Coin's "The ANA 2000
National Money Show Auction", March 2-3, 2000, Lot 12, plated
PCGS VF-30 Ex - Bowers and Merena
Galleries "The Rarities Sale", January 7, 2003, Lot 2, "Long Worm"
Fine" (illustrated above). Ex -
Early American History Auctions, Inc.'s Mail Bid Sale, August 25, 2001,
Lot 1355, where it was described as follows: "1783 Chalmers
Shilling, Long Worm, Very Fine. 47.7 grains. Possibly cleaned long
ago, now retoned to an original-looking silver-gray color. The planchet
is slightly wavy, resulting in uneven wear on both sides. Thin scratch
through the first A of ANNAPOLIS. A decent example of this scarce and
popular type. The GUIDEBOOK notes that these were issued by John
Chalmers (a silversmith) because of the refusal of patrons to accept the
underweight "cut" Spanish coins that were then in use.
However, the weight of this piece, when compared to a contemporary
British Shilling, is substantially less, thereby calling such a
supposition into question."
Fine/Fine. Ex - Stack's 65th Anniversary Sale, October
17-19, 2000, Lot 7, "Short Worm...56.1 grains...plugged with
second 'A' of ANNAPOLIS skillfully re-engraved over plug", sold for
Many of the Short Worm examples have a raised die line connecting the S
of SHILLING with the head of the bird on the left. They may also
show a raised die chip just below the tail of the snake.