1783 John Chalmers Shilling. W-1785. URS-8. Short Worm. VG-8 (PCGS).
The privately issued silver pieces of Annapolis, Maryland goldsmith and silversmith John Chalmers have long fascinated specialists in early American coinage. Produced and designed through Chalmers' own initiative, his silver coins were meant to curb the abuse of cutting Spanish dollars into too many pieces, each of which had less value than purported. (For example, cutting five ""quarters"" out of a single dollar, or ten ""eighths"" out of one coin.) Chalmers redeemed various fractional parts from private citizens and other merchants, issuing his own silver coinage in their place. He charged a commission for this service, to be sure, but the intent was that the person receiving the Chalmers coin would be confident in the value of the silver that they now had in their hand.
Of the three denominations that Chalmers issued, the shilling is seen most frequently in today's market. Such pieces are still scarce in their own right, of course, thereby confirming the significance of even this well worn survivor. Obviously circulated for a great deal of time, this piece has acquired heavy wear that is a bit uneven on both sides. The left center obverse and lower central reverse are worn nearly smooth, although in other areas we note outline to bold definition for the devices. The peripheral legends on the obverse are generally discernible, as is the denomination ONE SHILLING on the reverse. The date has been lost to circulation, and the central reverse motif with the two birds is faint and incomplete due to wear. In fact, the Small Worm Guide Book variety is more readily attributable by looking at the style and shape of the letter H in SHILLING. Original and appealing dove gray patina, with overall smooth surfaces that are remarkably problem free for such a heavily circulated Chalmers piece.