The first sil­ver coin minted in the early days of the US has fi­nally been au­then­ti­cated

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

OLD INNS along the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War trails boast of Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton sleep­ing there. But coin ex­perts say they have found the first sil­ver piece minted by the US – one likely held by the most en vogue of Found­ing Fa­thers, Alexan­der Hamil­ton.

David Mc­Carthy fig­ured the sil­ver coin had to be one-of-a-kind af­ter spot­ting it in the auc­tion cat­a­logue.

Its front fea­tures the all-see­ing eye of God, sur­rounded by rays of light. The rays shoot out to­ward 13 stars – one for each of the colonies that had re­belled against Great Bri­tain.

A sim­i­lar coin bore two words in Latin above the star­burst: “Nova Con­stel­la­tio,” or “new con­stel­la­tion” to de­scribe the in­fant US. But this sil­ver piece bore no in­scrip­tion at all. It was the first clue that the coin was some­thing sin­gu­lar, said Mc­Carthy, a se­nior re­searcher for the coin and col­lectibles firm Ka­gin’s.

He had a hunch it was the first coin ever minted by the US gov­ern­ment in 1783 – the pro­to­type for a plan dis­cussed by both Hamil­ton and Thomas Jef­fer­son that ar­guably shaped the course of the na­tion.

Mc­Carthy staked his com­pany’s money to buy the coin for $1.18 mil­lion (R15.6m) at the 2013 auc­tion. Af­ter nearly four years of late nights sift­ing through the pa­pers of the Found­ing Fa­thers and study­ing the bead­ing on the coin’s edges, he is now mak­ing an ex­haus­tive case that this sil­ver piece is in­deed the first Amer­i­can coin, the pre­cur­sor of what ul­ti­mately would cir­cu­late a decade later as the US dol­lar.

The coin is on dis­play this week at the World’s Fair of Money in Den­ver.

“You’ve used the prog­eny of this one coin in every trans­ac­tion you’ve done in your life, whether it’s a bit­coin, a dol­lar or a euro,” Mc­Carthy said.”

Mc­Carthy pub­lished the de­tails of his find­ings in the Au­gust issue of the coin jour­nal, The Nu­mis­ma­tist, as well as in a post on Medium.

He vet­ted and re­fined his find­ings over the years with other top ex­perts such as John Dan­nreuther, a rare coin dealer who found iden­ti­fy­ing marks on an­other coin that in­di­cates that it had to have been struck days or even weeks later from the same steel dies. – AP

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