The Very First U.S. Coin?


In 2013, David McCarthy spotted a rare coin in an auction catalog and immediately had a hunch it was the first coin minted by the United States in 1783. Not the first run of coins, but the very first one.


coin collecting Miami Valley


McCarthy, an experienced coin collector, bought the silver coin for $1.18 million.

He spent the next four years digging up evidence to prove that he had indeed purchased the fabled first “500” quint.

What first caught McCarthy’s eye was the fact that the coin, which was unmistakably one of two rare quints, had no inscription on the front. A similar coin, with a Latin inscription that translates “New Constellation,” was found in 1860. The one McCarthy bought was found about 15 years later and was therefore designated “quint Type 2.”

If McCarthy’s evidence is solid, the coin he has was mentioned in the diary of Robert Morris, a Philadelphia merchant who financed the American Revolution and signed the Declaration of Independence. From 1781 to 1784, when the young nation was still governed by the Articles of Confederation, Morris served as the superintendent of finance for the United States.

In an April 2, 1783, entry in his diary, Morris writes of “a Piece of Silver Coin being the first that has been struck as an American Coin.”

Morris’ coin was meant to demonstrate a prototype numerical currency system that would be based on the Spanish Eight Reale system. It was never adopted.

Saturday, November 11th, 2017 Uncategorized