John Chalmers' Coins by Type | Colonial Coins by Type

JOHN CHALMERS' 1783 SHILLING

Obverse of 1783 Chalmers' Shilling - Long Worm     Reverse of 1783 Chalmers' Shilling - Long Worm

Images courtesy of Early American History Auctions, Inc. ("Long Worm" variety)

Obverse of 1783 Chalmers' Shilling - Short Worm      Reverse of 1783 Chalmers' Shilling - Short Worm

Images courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.

Varieties (2):
Long worm
Short Worm
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.

Recent appearances:
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."

PCGS EF-40.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 74, "Breen-1012, rare long worm type", illustrated, sold for $5,290.00

PCGS 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"

"Very 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."

Very 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 $632.50

Notes:
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.