Captain Jack Sparrow lands at Port Royal and is making his way down the dock when the Dock Master calls to him, “Hold up there, you! It’s a shilling to tie up your boat at the dock...” Jack spins around and sways up to the man as he continues, “…and I shall need to know your name.” Of course, Jack is not about to give up his name and quickly palms three shillings on the Master’s log book, “What say you to three shillings and we forget the name.” The Master, being a reasonable man of moderate wits, considers Jack’s offer and takes the money. “Welcome to Port Royal, Mr. Smith”
It is this type of silver shilling that Jack tenders. British silver shillings are found by our friends in England using their trusty metal detectors. The design on these coins began in 1666, during the reign of King Charles II, and continued to 1798, during the reign of King George III. While most common in England, they are found all over the world, where ever English ships carried English goods. This coin was lost hundreds of years ago, but now enjoys a new life in your collection!
Note from Robert: While the “piece of 8” and gold “doubloon” are the coin of pirate lore, made famous in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, there are only three Spanish treasure coins we can directly attribute to pirates and piracy! This 1745 British Lima shilling is one of them! In the mid 1700s, the French and Spanish were allies, and two French ships were carrying holds full of silver pieces of 8 that had been minted in the Spanish colony of Lima, Peru. They were captured in the North Atlantic by two British privateers as they tried to make their way to either France or Spain. (A privateer is a private non-military ship that is given a letter of marque by the king and allowed to legally practice piracy against enemy shipping and would receive a portion of the captured goods as payment.) Forty-five wagon loads of Spanish silver minted in Lima was transported from the port of Bristol to the mint in London. To celebrate the capture, King George II had LIMA put under his portrait on British silver coins minted in 1745 and part of 1746. This style of shilling (with the cross on the reverse) was minted for over 125 years, but less than two years with LIMA emblazoned on it! This is highly prized by collectors.
Port Royal was a city located at the end of the Palisadoes at the mouth of the Kingston Harbor, in southeastern Jamaica. Founded in 1518, it was the center of shipping commerce in the Caribbean Sea during the latter half of the 17th century. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692. Port Royal was once home to privateers employed to nip at superpower Spain’s empire when smaller European powers dared not directly make war on Spain. As a port city, it was notorious for its gaudy displays of wealth and loose morals and was a popular homeport for the English and Dutch sponsored privateers to spend their treasure during the 17th century. When those governments abandoned the practice of issuing letters of marque against the Spanish treasure fleets and possessions in the later 16th century, many privateers turned pirate and used the city as their main base during the heyday of the Caribbean pirates in the 17th century. Pirates from around the world congregated at Port Royal coming from waters as far away as Madagascar.
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