Question marks over rare Bermuda coin up for auction in the UK
A rare Bermuda coin is expected to fetch thousands of dollars when it goes up for auction next month.
The coin, which may have been minted as early as the 17th century, was found by a metal detectorist in Kent in the UK in 2019.
Robert Parkinson, a senior numismatist at Sovereign Rarities, the auction house handling the sale, speculated the find could be a rare example of a Hogge money token– the first coins used in Bermuda between 1616 and 1624.
The coins were named for their depiction of the wild pigs found on the island by the first settlers.
One threepenny example from that era sold for more than $100,000 in recent times.
But on-island experts suggested that the coin was more likely a copy or ’tribute’ coin produced in the 1700s or even later.
Mr Parkinson said in an article for Coin News that Hogge money was produced in the UK and exported to Bermuda, so “its presence in Kent was not so remarkable”.
Mr Parkinson added that metallurgy tests dated the coin to the 1600s and that replicas were not created until the 1800s.
But he acknowledged that the design was “slightly finer and more elaborate” than the original coins from the early 1600s – a key difference between genuine articles and fakes.
He wrote: “There is always difficulty in proving the authenticity of a piece with no comparable examples.
“Numerous theories have been floated as to the origin of this piece – some say it could represent a new twopence die pairing or could be a pattern, a contemporary tribute piece or indeed the first example of the missing Hogge penny.
“Be that as it may, after inspection by several experts in the field all are of the opinion that it is an antique piece, and many believe it to be at least an authentic twopence if not the fabled penny itself.”
But two Bermudian experts who have researched the coin said that, although rare and valuable, all evidence suggests it was a later copy.
Cooper Simpson and Mark Sportack, both keen collectors, said more tests would be needed to confirm the coin’s origins.
Mr Sportack added: “The evidence strongly suggests that the example found in Kent is metallurgically inconsistent with real hogges.”
They pointed out that genuine Hogge money was hand-hammered and irregular, but the Kent version appeared to have been made in a mechanical press.
Mr Sportack said: “This example is sufficiently similar architecturally that, to the untrained eye, it could easily be accepted as authentic.
“Closer examination, however, shows that not only don’t the dies match, the details don’t match either.
“This example seems to have been made specifically for collectors.
“It is visually quite compelling, and its metrics are consistent with legitimate twopence hoggies.
“Unfortunately, this example does not withstand scrutiny in terms of metallurgy or design. When all the evidence is considered, it seems most likely that this was a well-made 18th century tribute coin.
“As such, it is rare and valuable unto itself though not as desirable or valuable as an authentic hoggie.”