Pitt Tokens by Type | Colonial Coins by Type


Obverse of 1766 Pitt Halfpenny      Reverse of 1766 Pitt Halfpenny

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

PCGS VF-20 (illustrated above).  Ex - Paul Arthur Norris - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Pre-Long Beach Sale", September 23 & 24, 2002, Lot 35, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "PCGS graded MS-64 Brown. Glowing brown luster throughout, with no troubling spots or similar signs of age. The strike is typical on the obverse, with most of Pitt's curls bold, the reverse has minor weakness on the ships portholes, but most are present. A hint of streaky brown color on the obverse, while the reverse boasts an even and lovely brown color. We do note however, three faint scratches in the right obverse field, and another through the word STAMPS on the obverse. Certainly one of the finest of these important historical tokens, PCGS has graded only 2 this high, with a single coin graded higher. Most are found in much lower circulated grades, and just have few have been located in mint state. Nicer than examples in the Roper, Picker, Robison and Norweb collections, and as nice as the Garrett example. Struck slightly off center on the reverse, with the tops of the letters FRIENDS missing, as usually seen.
The Pitt token commemorates one of the most historic events that soon led to the American Revolution. King George III's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Grenville, introduced the Stamp Act in Parliament in early 1765, where it passed without debate, in order to help pay for French and Indian Wars. Parliament was simply extending the British system of stamp duties to the American colonies. Neither Grenville nor his advisors had any idea that the Stamp Act would generate any opposition from the colonies in American (Breen).
Nevertheless, the Stamp Act included several provisions which the colonists saw as a threat. For instance, the Act required the purchase of tax stamps for every sheet of paper or parchment, hence every newspaper, broadside, almanac or like publication had to pay the tax or would be considered contraband. This implied the royal authorities were trying to tax local publications out of business, an attack on the freedom of the press!
As soon as copies of the Stamp Act arrived in New York by August of 1765, colonial assemblies started protesting. In Massachusetts, the radical Sons Of Liberty formed in secret to organize resistance, likewise in New York where the locals formed the Friends of Liberty and Trade club. Soon a Stamp Act Congress was called, and they met on October 7, 1765, with representatives from all 13 colonies, to coordinate action. Its major resolution declared that the Stamp Act and the related measures extended "the jurisdiction of the Courts of Admiralty beyond its ancient limits" and that Parliament had "a manifest tendency to subvert the Rights and Liberties of Colonists." The congress further resolved that "it is inseparably essential to the Freedom of a People, and the undoubted rights of Englishmen, that no taxes be imposed on them but with their own consent, given personally or by their representatives," and that the colonists "are not, and from their local circumstances cannot be, represented in the House of Commons." (Breen).
Soon the opposition to the Stamp Act was so great that the costs of enforcing it exceeded the meager income gained. Loyalists who used the hated stamps were boycotted, or even worse, some witnessed their houses burned to the ground. Many in Parliament were outraged, with such treasonous behavior rampant in the colonies, until Sir William Pitt, the most popular statesman in England and known as the "Great Commoner," defended the rebellious colonists and their opposition to the Stamp Act. Pitt spoke to Parliament in January of 1766 and stated "as subjects they are entitled to the common right of representation, and cannot be bound to pay taxes without their consent," and even demanded the repeal of the hated Act, which followed on March 18, 1766. So disgusted was King George III, that he dismissed his Chancellor of the Exchequer Grenville over the debacle.
Naturally, the colonists hailed Pitt as their Defender of Liberty, and various coins and medals were struck in his honor. The local New York group known as the Friends of Liberty and Trade had gunsmith James Smither engrave and issue this token, allegedly using sketches from Paul Revere, and they are thought to have been struck in either New York or Philadelphia."

Obverse of 1766 Pitt Halfpenny     Reverse of 1766 Pitt Halfpenny

Images courtesy of Early American History Auctions, Inc.

"Choice About Uncirculated-59."  Ex - Early American History Auctions, Inc.'s Mail Bid Sale, August 25, 2001, Lot 1353, where it was described as follows: "1766 Pitt Halfpenny, Choice About Uncirculated-59.  This is a remarkable Pitt Halfpenny for two reasons: 1) The planchet has the largest diameter we've yet seen - over 29 mm, which means that all of the legends are completely on the planchet, with plenty of extra space between the lettering and the rims. Virtually all of the Pitt Halfpennies we've seen or handled have been on undersized planchets with many of the tops of the letters cut off because they simply won't fit on the coin. 2) This coin has some of the glossiest and most lustrous surfaces we've seen, despite having been lightly scratched over much of the the reverse. The color is a gorgeous, milk-chocolate brown. All in all, this is a remarkable coin that will fit nicely into any high-grade Colonial Type set."

"AU-58".  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s 1999 ANA Signature Sale, August 11-13, 1999, Lot 5016, 5.46 grams, sold for $4,830.00

PCGS AU-55.  Ex - Early American History Auctions, Inc.'s Mail Bid Sale, June 9, 2001, Lot 1240, where it was described as follows: "1766 Pitt Halfpenny, PCGS graded About Uncirculated-55.  Luscious, milk chocolate colors and nice, smooth surfaces. The only imperfection worthy of note is a barely visible, old scratch in the field just above and to the left of the date."


Images courtesy of Superior Galleries

PCGS AU-50.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", June 5-7, 2000, Lot 13, where it was described as follows: "1766 William Pitt Halfpenny Breen-251 PCGS AU50 Choice glossy light to medium brown. The only mark is a tiny nick in the field under the ship. Outstanding eye appeal.", sold for $2,530.00 "to the book"

PCGS AU-50 (not the same coin as the one illustrated above).  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Pre-Long Beach Sale", September 23 & 24, 2002, Lot 36, illustrated

Obverse of 1766 Pitt Halfpeny     Reverse of 1766 Pitt Halfpeny

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

Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "The Benson Collection" Sale - Part 1, February 18-20, 2001

SEGS EF-45, Corroded, silver-plated brass.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Coin Sale", May 27-29, 2001, Lot 1005, plated.

"Extremely Fine-45".  Ex - Early American History Auctions, Inc.'s Mail Bid Sale, August 25, 2001, Lot 1354, where it was described as follows: "1766 Pitt Halfpenny, Extremely Fine-45.    This medium russet-brown mat example has the sharp, clear details. The planchet is clean and unimpaired. This piece is well centered and above average as such, all legends located and readable on the planchet. The face of the Lion on the ships masthead is worn but visible due to the high grade. Although he was British, Pitt was considered an ally of the Colonies and his efforts to have the hated Stamp Act repealed endeared him to the hearts of Americans. The current 2001 edition of the Red Book values this coin at $2,000 in EF-40. The nice detail of this example is certainly worthy of that level or higher."

PCGS EF-45.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Pre-Long Beach Sale", September 23 & 24, 2002, Lot 37, illustrated

"Extremely Fine".  Ex - Early American History Auctions, Inc.'s Mail Bid Sale, June 9, 2001, Lot 1241, where it was described as follows: "1766 Pitt Halfpenny, Choice Extremely Fine.  84.5 grains. Glossy, with choice, light brown surfaces and nice details, but with a punch mark smack dab in the middle of the reverse that also raises a dimple on Pitt's jowl."

PCGS VF-30.  Bowers and Merena Galleries "The Robert W. Schwan Collection," October 26-27, 2000, Lot 6, "Breen 251, Betts-519," unsold

PCGS AU-53.  Ex – American Numismatic Rarities, LLC’s “The Classics Sale,” July 25, 2003 , Lot 13, "Breen-251, Betts-519", illustrated, not sold