First Independence Day Prompted Striking of Earliest US Coin

New Research Reveals Founding Father Robert Morris Ordered First American Coin Struck Hours After Learning of American Independence

United States flag
Francis Hopkinson designed the United States flag and is believed to be the designer of the Nova Constellatio Patterns.

The first consciously sovereign act of the newly-independent United States was to strike a coin, according to an article published in the July 1st issue of The Numismatist, the official magazine of The American Numismatic Association. The new research details the arrival in Philadelphia of the first ship carrying news that the United States had won the Revolutionary War, prompting the subsequent striking of the fledgling nation’s first coin, which was delivered only days later.

“I was blown away when I found the payment in Robert Morris’s diary – I couldn’t believe that the entry had gone unnoticed since 1783,” says the article’s author David McCarthy, Senior Numismatist at Kagin’s Inc., “Within hours of finding out that the United States had won the Revolutionary War, the chief executive of the U.S. government ordered our first coin.”

The coin, known as the “Plain Obverse Nova Constellatio Quint”, or “Quint”, and was designed by Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Hopkinson also designed the United States flag, later sewn by Betsy Ross.

Plain Obverse Quint
The Unique Plain Obverse Quint.

Significantly, the nation’s first coin was also the first decimal coin struck in Western Europe or North America, making the Quint the direct ancestor to the dollar, and consequently all money used in the world today. After Morris showed the Quint to founding father Alexander Hamilton in April of 1783, it disappeared from history, until it was rediscovered in the holdings of an unnamed New York City family in 1870. “Mr. McCarthy’s historical insight and research skills have once again brought to light an important and previously unrecognized moment in American history: the events surrounding the creation of the first coin produced by the United States,” says Douglas Mudd, Curator of the American Numismatic Association’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum.