“COMMON CENTS” DURING THE COLONIAL ERA
During our Colonial Days the populace had to use whatever small change was available, including domestic but mostly foreign issues. Some of the Colonial States as well as individuals were given authority by their respective governing bodies to coin specie. These were mostly large copper coins called “cents”. Contrary to popular belief this County never officially had or produced “Pennies”. That term was a hold-over from the English system. Shown here are some examples of “Cents” that circulated throughout the Colonies during the time of formation of our Country.
Here we can see two issues of coins minted in Connecticut. The Fugio Cent which was actually authorized by the Continental Congress and therefore becoming the first authorized coinage by the United States and a Connecticut Cent which was authorized by the State Legislature. There were many varieties of each minted. Benjamin Franklin was credited with the design and legends, a sundial surrounded the word Fugio, meaning “time flies”, the date 1787 and the words, Mind Your business, below. The reverse shows a chain of 13 links signifying the 13 original colonies in the Confederation.
The Connecticut Cent was authorized by this State and minted in New Haven. The coin shown is also dated 1787 but on the reverse.
Above we see a Massachusetts Half Cent (obverse) and Massachusetts Cent (reverse) and a New Jersey Cent. The Massachusetts issues were coined in 1787 in Boston and the New Jersey Cent could have been coined either in Rahway or Elizabethtown. During these years a talented die sinker and engraver James Atlee, did much of this work going from state to state, obliging, wherever his services were needed.
Vermont gave us two different issues, the ever popular “Bust” variety and the “Vermontensium” variety. The former showing a bust with a laureate head with the legend, Vermon Auctori. The “Vermontensium” variety shows a horizon with the sun rising. Images of the sun as such on coins are always rising, never setting. That would be a bad connotation!
These copper coins were some of the “common cents” of the period and represent a small cross section of the coinage that served our needs during the late 1700’s. There were many other coins and stories that go with them. To learn more about American Numismatics click on the membership button and join us in this rewarding hobby.
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