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Fugio Cents

The first coins issued under U.S. authority for which contract information is known today were the Fugio pieces, which were valued at one cent each. They were made under contract with James Jarvis, owner of a controlling interest in the Connecticut mint which was then striking Connecticut coppers in New Haven. Jarvis obtained the federal contract with a $10,000 bribe to Col. William Duer, then head of the Board of Treasury. The contract called for Jarvis to deliver 345 tons of copper coins to the federal government. Congress, which was ignorant of the bribe, directed on July 7, 1787, "that the Board of Treasury direct the contractor for the copper coinage to stamp on one side of each piece the following device, viz: thirteen circles linked together, a small circle in the middle, with the words 'United States,' around it; and in the centre, the words 'We are one'; on the other side of the same piece the following device, viz: a dial with the hours expressed on the face of it; a meridian sun above on one side of which is the word 'Fugio,' ["time flies"] and on the other the year in figures '1787,' below the dial, the words 'Mind Your Business.'"

Jarvis was only able to mint 11,910 pounds of Fugios (equal to around 554,741 coins). Not all of these were shipped to the government, which cancelled the contract for failure to meet the delivery schedule.

All Fugios were minted in 1788 and back-dated 1787. The dies were engraved by Abel Buell.

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