03 March 2020

Fugio cent bought for 50c from a junk box at a flea market

A 50 cent flea market find has been certified as a rare 1776 pewter Continental Currency dollar valued at $97,500. The buyer spotted it in a junk box full of assorted coins at a market in Northern France in June 2018. He was curious about this unusual American piece and agreed to shell out half a euro (56 American cents)...

Both obverse and reverse were designed by Benjamin Franklin. The inscriptions and iconography on the obverse were meant to be read as a rebus. Fugio, meaning “I flee” in Latin, connects to the sun which casts shadow on the sundial.  “Mind your business” didn’t mean what it means now. It’s literal, as in “see to your business interests.” All together, the obverse advises that time is fleeting, so mind your business. The reverse is an appeal for unity among states rendered as a linked chain.

Unable to secure anything like the amount of silver necessary for coinage issue, the Continental Currency coin never was circulated. They went with paper money instead, and it was an unmitigated disaster of devaluation and counterfeiting.
More info at The History Blog.

1 comment:

  1. I'm an amateur numismatist and it never ceases to amaze me how many expensive coins find their way into the "four for a dollar" boxes at flea markets. Pound coins, Euros, and the occasional loonie turn up. I know the expense of gathering these together and cashing them in would be more than they're worth, but it's still a surprise.
    I've never been lucky enough to find anything this valuable, though. If only we could know its provenance I'll bet it's been on a fascinating journey.


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