Rarity Value for a 1787 Fugio Cent, Variety 4-E

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by kanga, May 30, 2024.

  1. kanga

    kanga 65 Year Collector

    I've got an 1787 Fugio Cent in VF-30.
    It's labeled as Variety 4-E.

    I looked in my references but I don't have anything that mentions rarity values for Fugio cents.
    Then I surfed the net looking for the coin's rarity.
    I can't find any references for there either.

    I'm just looking for a Rarity number that I can include in my database.
    Anyone have or know of a reference for that?
    Cheech9712 and mrweaseluv like this.
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  3. Coins4Eli

    Coins4Eli Collector of Early American Copper

    Newman 4-E is marked as an R3+ coin. Hope this helps. :)
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  4. kanga

    kanga 65 Year Collector

    That is the info I was looking for.

    BTW, what is your source?
    I'll look into purchasing that reference.
  5. Coins4Eli

    Coins4Eli Collector of Early American Copper

    Right now I haven't been able to find a definitive book or resource that has a list of them. I am sure there is one out there, but the trouble is finding it. I rarely deal with Fugio cents, and when I do, I usually just look in auction catalogs to see what others have marked their rarity at, that's how I found yours.
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  6. l.cutler

    l.cutler Member

    The Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial coins has it listed as a 10 on their new Universal rarity scale which translates out to a R3 on the traditional scale.
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  7. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The classic books about the Fugio Cents are by Alan Kessler and Eric P. Newman. Both were printed well over a decade ago, and they aren’t cheap. I paid $125 for the Newman book.

    The Whitman colonial coin guide is your easiest source. It also has prices for the more common items, but like any price guide, it’s only a guide.
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  8. kanga

    kanga 65 Year Collector

    Thanks to all for the responses.
    A Fugio is the only colonial era coin I've bought and ever expect to buy.
    But I'd like to have a reference since it was decided by someone(?) a few years back that it is a US Government issue.
    Not struck by the US Mint (which didn't exist then); just contracted for by the government.
    Since my interest area is US half cents and large cents, I bought a Fugio.

    I'll see about getting the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial Coins.

    Thanks again.
    Cheech9712 likes this.
  9. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I am giving a presentation at the Summer FUN show that covers the copper coins after the colonial period. My instructions were to begin with the Fugio Cent. Since a lot of you will not be able to attend, here are some words and pictures from the slides I have made.

    Slide 1

    During the period when the central government was under The Articles of Confederation (1793 to 1789) the economy was flooded with light weight copper coins, which included counterfeits and state coinage.

    Slide 2

    The Confederation Congress came up with the idea to authorize a cent that would be worth 1/100th of a Spanish Milled Dollar. Massachusetts had already issued a coin that bore the word "Cent"

    1788 Mass Cent a All.jpg

    •James Jarvis owned the controlling interest in the Company for Coining Coppers which had produced the Connecticut coppers.

    •He obtained the contract to make the Fugio Cents by paying a $10,000 bribe to the Secretary of the Board of the Treasury, William Duer. The Board handed the monetary policy for Congress of the Confederation

    •Jarvis committed to striking 345 tons of copper coins (estimated contract a bit over 30 million coins, a major mintage commitment for the period.)

    CT Copper All.jpg

    A Connecticut Copper

    •Jarvis set sail to Europe to find investors. He failed to attract any.

    •He failed to convince Matthew Boulton to produce 300 tons of copper coins. Boulton wanted the money up front.

    •Boulton offered to make 150 tons of copper coins and sell Jarvis the mint equipment to make coins in America.

    •Jarvis’ employees delivered only 8,968 pounds (1% of the Contract) which works out to about 400,000 coins.

    •Jarvis defaulted on his contract.

    •The coins were sold to a copper speculator, who could not pay his bill. He went to debtors’ prison.

    Soho Mint.jpg

    Soho works, Matthew Boulton's steam driven plant. His mint was located in a small building behind this facility.

    A Fugio Cent

    1787 Fugio 8 X All.jpg

    •Fugio “I fly” “Mind your business” Message: Time flies, work hard and be productive

    •“United States … We Are One” A plea for national unity

    •There are 55 or more die varieties of these coins. Relatively common in Mint State from the Bank of New York hoard. There were over 1,600 coins in the hoard in the late 1940s. The last time anyone checked it out, about 700 coins were remaining.

    This is most of what I will be saying.
  10. KBBPLL

    KBBPLL Well-Known Member

    Very interesting, @johnmilton. That equals about 7300 coins per die pair. At that rate, if they had made all 30 million, there would have been over 4000 die pairs.
  11. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    Bowers' Universal Rarity Scale (URS) is garbage. There. I said it. The traditional Sheldon scale, if adapted to population realities of each type, actually has some meaning with respect to how difficult it is to acquire any given variety as compared to a common one, which is what ends up mattering in the marketplace. Absolute rarity is meaningless without context. URS-10 means something totally different to a Fugio collector from what it does to a Mercury dime collector.

    The Sheldon-style numbers were used on Morgan and Peace dollars but are no longer because of abuse and inaccuracies.
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  12. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The big problem is that Morgan and Peace dollars are a lot more common than the people who promote them are willing to admit. When a customer handed me a want list for Morgan and Peace dollars when I was a dealer, I knew I was on easy street. All of the date and mint mark combinations are easy to get and always available. The trick is to pay the prices, which in my dealer days were into the 5 figures.

    Here's something that Civil War token collectors point out. Even the most common Civil War token variety is rarer than a 1909-S-VDB cent.

    Do you think the 1893-S Morgan Dollar is rare? I was a medium sized Florida show where a dealer had nine of them in stock, ranging from VG to AU. All of them were certified by either ANACS (old holder), NGC or PCGS.
  13. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    Exactly why the URS scale is useless. It tells you nothing about the context of the rarity number. Although didn't CWT collectors corrupt the scale with R-9?
    By date and mint, no Morgan or Peace dollars are rare. As a percentage of the entire mintage of the series, the 93-S is somewhat a needle-in-the-haystack coin, but the marketplace has fairly efficiently separated the needles from the haystacks. The rarity scale was used for varieties, but the numbers were always estimates at the time of cataloging, and you can't unprint a book. Combine that with the fact that the adaptation of the scale wasn't particularly good and you have R-5 on that scale being the baseline for the average variety. There are some varieties known today to be legitimate R-7 and R-8 coins on a scale that makes sense, where R-1 is the number made by the typical die pair with the populations decaying exponentially down to R-8 being unique or nearly so. The text descriptions of what the R numbers mean provides the context that gives meaning to the numbers. That meaning is gone from the URS scale.
  14. l.cutler

    l.cutler Member

    I'm not a fan of the URS either and never use it myself, but as that is how coins are listed in the book, I quoted it, and stated what it translates to. I just don't understand what the URS is supposed to offer that the Sheldon scale doesn't.
  15. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The URS scale was supposed to be easy to remember because you stated out with number 1 and then doubled it for the high number estimate each time you went up a level. It sounds nice in theory, but the reality is most people can’t do mental gymnastics like that beyond a few levels.
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  16. kanga

    kanga 65 Year Collector

    Thanks all.
    I now have the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial Coins (2nd edition) on order.
    Like I said, I don't anticipate getting any more coins from the Colonial Era but it'll be nice at least to have the reference book.
  17. ksparrow

    ksparrow Coin Hoarder Supporter

    It's handy to have. I pop over to the r/coins subreddit from time to time to see what people are posting. Recently someone posted a Mass copper that was in a bag of coins their father had. I found the attribution and posted that it could well be "finest known." They had it graded-- AU55-- I suggested running it by CRO who estimated value at about 20K. I enjoy attributing Fugios when people post them too. A nice diversion.
  18. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    You bet it helps. Nice job
  19. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    I rather read books on my free time. My bus stop is down the street from Buffalo Library It doesn’t get any better than that. I will try to catch that book
  20. LRC-Tom

    LRC-Tom Been around the block...

    I have the Kessler book if you'd like to borrow it.
  21. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    The problem isn't with people not being able to do math. All it does is take a number that doesn't tell you how rare a coin is relative to others and take the logarithm of it. Still no meaning. In the Sheldon scale, R-1 always means most common, R-8 always means unique or nearly so. Specific numbers in between always mean less common, scarce, rare, etc. The population numbers that sit behind those numbers aren't quite as important for interpreting the numbers.
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