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16 Aug 2018

Cents Part One: The Fugio Cent and Large Cents

Coins | ZanzibarCoins

Hello everyone! Here is the promised part one of my cents blog series! This will cover the fugio cent and large cents, although I cannot go super in depth on ALL the large cents because there are so many varieties, so I will talk about them all, but only go super deep on a few select ones. :) Here we go!
First, the fugio cent: The fugio cent was authorized by congress on April 21rst, 1787. It is said to be designed by Benjamin Franklin, although that is disputed. It is commonly called the fugio cent because of the Latin word "fugio" which is written along one side of the sundial. Fugio means "I flee" or "I fly" in Latin, and below the sundial is the inscription "Mind your business." It is disputed whether the coins inscriptions are supposed to read as "Time flies, do your work" or if they're supposed to read as a reminder to the British to mind their own business and also remind them that the United States "flew the coop." :) The fugio cent was the first official one cent piece of United States currency as well. It was composed of 0.36 oz of copper, and it weighed 10.2 grams. Although it is rather common in low grades, highly graded pieces are rare and are highly sought by collectors.
Large cents were first struck in 1793, and then the large cent was coined every single year from 1793 to 1857 except for 1815. This was because, when the United States declared war in 1812 against Great Britain, our nation's coinage was affected. The wartime embargo against shipments made it so the mint could not get any new copper planchets, which were, ironically, imported from Great Britain, to strike coins. The mint made do with what small supply of copper planchets that it had and struck coins into 1815. After the war ended in 1815, the mint wasted no time in ordering new planchets. For an unknown reason no coins were dated 1815 from the supply the mint had in the interlude. In addition to the copper shortage, people also hoarded any precious metals they came across during the war. But, this aside, they were minted for almost 64 years, and there were at least seven different designs or varieties of the large cents.
   The first one is the Flowing Hair Cent, which was minted in 1793 only, and it itself had two different variations; the Chain Reverse and the Wreath Reverse. Both of them featured a depiction of Liberty with flowing hair on the obverse, although the wreath reverse featured a Liberty with longer and wilder hair. The reverse of the first type made, which was the Chain Reverse, was actually highly criticized and ridiculed by the general public because they thought that not only was it unattractive, but they also believed that  it gave the general allusion of slavery because of the chain links on the reverse. Which is why only 36,103 of this design were minted. The Mint eventually caved in to the public's criticism about halfway through 1793, and they switched the design on the reverse to the more popular Wreath Reverse design. They also made Liberty's hair wilder and longer on the obverse. About 63,000 of these were minted.
   Next were the Liberty Cap Cents, which were minted from 1793 to 1796. In this design, Liberty's hair was "tamed" and the Phrygian cap was added behind her, being known as a universal symbol of freedom. It kind of looks like she has a large bow in her hair from first glance, but if you look closer, you can see the pole that the cap is resting on sticking out from behind Liberty. The design on the reverse was a laurel wreath. This design was more popular so it continued into 1796. In 1795 planchets became too thin to support the edge lettering because of a weight reduction, so the Mint dropped the lettering, and the rest of the coins were made with a plain edge. Four coins from 1795 are known to have a reeded edge.
   I'm actually going to do this blog in two parts because otherwise  it'd be over 1,500 words, and I don't want to bore anyone, so this is Part One, Part Two should come a little later. :)

Bibliography:
Wikipedia: The Fugio Cent
Wikipedia: Large Cents
Wikipedia: Chain Cent
Wikipedia: Wreath Cent
Wikipedia: Liberty Cap Large Cent
Red Book, 2018 Edition
(I remembered a bibliography this time! Yay! :) ) 

(I tried to pull up pictures, but it kept saying my files were too large, even though they were only single and double photos. Sorry!)

Comments

Jonas's Coins

Level 5

I like the blog. I would love to get one of those flowing hair Cents but they are just a little bit out of my price range.

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