America’s First Mint

In May 1652, the General Court of Massachusetts Bay boldly authorized Boston silversmith John Hull and his partner Robert Sanderson to set up a mint. The growing colony was hampered by a lack of hard money, and the audacious step of establishing a mint would solve the problem.

Coinage was the right of kings, an age-old symbol of power and authority. By issuing coins, the colony proclaimed its independence. In the same May 27, 1652 law establishing the mint, the General Court also expanded the militia from one company to four, and required all inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay Colony to take an oath of loyalty.

[map: Colonial New England, 1652]

Hull and Sanderson began coining about September 1652, at the mint located on Hull's Boston property near present-day Downtown Crossing. It is probable punches for the New England coins were made by Joseph Jenks (Ienckes), a skilled ironworker at the Hammersmith foundry in Saugus, MA. At that time, this foundry was the only one in operation in the colony. The mint produced coins from 1652 to 1682 (or 83). The official contract for the mint expired in June 1682. A year later in 1683, British loyalist Edward Randolph traveled to London to present 17 charges against Massachusetts Bay Colony – the first being a "Publik mint in Boston." That October, Boston mint master John Hull died. John Hull's partner, Robert Sanderson, and his wife are listed as arriving in Hampton, NH in 1638/39, and are some of the first settlers. Until 1691, New Hampshire was governed by the colony of Massachusetts. The Sandersons' daughter is believed to be one of the first children born in this town. Robert Sanderson's wife died, and is buried in New Hampshire. In the early 1640s, he moved to Watertown, MA, before relocating to Boston.