Serendipity of Timing
Author: Christopher Wise   -   Tuesday March 27, 2018

Seldom does anyone have the opertunity to handle an important piece of American History such as a document written by the hand of one of our Founding Fathers. But to have both a document written by Alexander Hamilton requesting $10,000 for copper to be struck as the first coinage in the United States as well as several of those coins in the same auction at the same time is amazing serendipitous timing.

In our June Coins, Currency and Collectibles Auction we will have crossing the auction block a document from the hand of Alexander Hamilton which reads as follows:


Treasury Department
December 18, 1793

For the purpose of obtaining a final settlement at the Treasury of the bills drawn on Amsterdam, I have this day issued a warrant on you in favor of the Treasurer of the United States for ten thousand dollars, being the amount of the bills furnished by you to the Director of the Mint. I have therefore to request that until and appropriation be made for the purpose (a circumstance which will shortly take place) you will be pleased to consider the said 10,000 dollars as an advance on account of the Mint.  I have ordered(?) a warrant to cover your advance heretofore to that establishment(?) apart(?) of two June(?) for the purchase of copper which must also warrant an appropriation.


I have the honor to be,
Your Oded’ Servant.
Alex Hamilton


The President and Director
Of the Bank of the US.


The Bank of the United States was granted a national 20 year charter in 1791. This institution was created to: have the Federal Government assume the Revolutionary War debts of the several states, pay off the war debts accumulated through the Revolution by the United States Government, raise money to operate the new government, establish a national bank and create a common currency. This letter is a request for money that the Treasury Department of the United States used to purchase copper on behalf of the United States Mint earlier in 1793. The mint struck the first official coinage March 3, 1793.

The other portion of this equation here at Rago’s Arts and Auction Center is that in the same sale will be two 1793 chain cents which were possibly struck by the copper ordered and paid for by this letter. 1793 chain cents were designed and engraved by the mint director Henry Voigt. They have a mintage 36,103 of which it is estimated that only slightly over 1,000 have survived to present day.  The two examples that will be offered are graded PCGS Fine 12, and Fine 15 respectively. The third confluence of items crossing the block June 9th at Rago’s Arts and Auction Center is the 1793 liberty cap one cent coin similarly struck with the copper on order from the above mentioned letter.  There was a mintage of only 11,056 of these coins struck in 1793, and an estimated survival quantity of only 450 coins makes this coin a true rarity in any grade. The example which we will be offering is graded Very Good details with corrosion.


Christopher Wise directs the Coins and Currency department and oversees sales of silver, Militaria and ephemera. Chris, who joined Rago in 2006 as a Junior Specialist in the silver department, began buying and selling antique tools, coins, currency, firearms, ephemera and silver while in his early twenties. He is a member of the American Numismatic Association, the Silver Society and the American Numismatics Society. He is also an auctioneer for Rago.

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