Return to NGC Coin Explorer Search

Nova Constellatio & Related Pieces



The War of Independence was concluded by treaty in 1783. At that time, Americans still used the English reckoning of pounds, shillings and pence. This awkward division of the pound into 240 pence dated from ancient times. The first to propose a decimal system for American coinage was Gouverneur Morris, the assistant superintendent of finance. In 1782, he came up with an elaborate system based on a unit of value called, simply, the unit. There would be silver coins valued at 100 units and 1000 units, as well as a gold coin of 10,000 units. Robert Morris (who was not related to Gouverneur) was the superintendent of finance, and he was so impressed by his assistant's plan that he actually commissioned engraver Benjamin Dudley to establish a mint. Only a few patterns were struck, however, since America simply lacked an adequate supply of silver and gold.

Not one to give up, Gouverneur Morris decided to mint copper coins instead, using the same design but without a stated value. Prominent on the obverse of each piece is the All-Seeing-Eye of God, surrounded by rays and stars, while the reverse features a simple wreath enclosing the letters US. These coins were made in England by a private mint run by the Wyon Family. More than a million of these coppers were struck and shipped to America, where they were usually valued at one-half penny. The Nova Constellatio pieces were the first circulating coins to bear American imagery and inscriptions. They're also common enough that any collector can own one.


NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The auction prices realized listed in the NGC Auction Central are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. The auction data listed by NGC may occasionally contain typographical or input errors that can result in incorrect prices realized appearing on the NGC website. Therefore, the prices realized listed in NGC Auction Central are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and facts that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and – when appropriate – expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Auction Central. By using the NGC Auction Central, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the NGC Auction Central.