PCGS to Display Nova Constellatio Coins at Chicago ANA Money Show


A rare set of Nova Constellatio coins will make an appearance August 13 to 17 in Rosemont, Illinois at the Chicago ANA World’s Fair of Money.

5 Units Nova Constellatio Coin
The unique copper 1783 Nova Constellatio 5 Units, graded PCGS PR66BN. (Photo courtesy of PCGS.)

Insured for $15 million, the four-coin set may be seen at the Professional Coin Grading Service booth (#701) in the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

"The Nova Constellatio coins arguably are the first patterns for a United States coinage system, and this set of four is one of the great treasures of United States numismatics," said David Hall, a PCGS co-founder and president of Collectors Universe, Inc.

PCGS (www.PCGS.com) recently authenticated and graded the set of patterns that distinctively bear "Units" for denomination.

100 Units Nova Constellatio Coin
One of three known silver 1783 Nova Constellatio 100 Units (“Mark”), graded PCGS PR66. (Photo courtesy of PCGS.)

The exhibition of 1783-dated coins will include:

  • A copper 5 Units piece, graded PCGS Proof 66 Brown.
  • One of three known silver 100 Units (known as a "Mark"), PCGS Proof 66.
  • The unique Type 1 silver 500 Units (known as a "Quint’), PCGS Proof 65+.
  • The unique silver 1000 Units, PCGS Proof 65+. 

Three of the four coins in the set trace their pedigrees back to Charles Thomson, the Secretary of the Continental Congress, according to PCGS President Don Willis.

500 Units Type 1 Nova Constellatio Coin
The unique Type 1 silver 1783 Nova Constellatio 500 Units (“Quint’), graded PCGS PR65+. (Photo courtesy of PCGS.)

Willis said that all four had once been owned by John J. Ford, Jr.

"The 5 Units was not known to still exist until it was discovered in a collection in France in 1977 and eventually purchased by Ford," Willis noted. "Ford purchased the other three Nova Constellatio patterns at the November 1979 Garrett Collection auction."

The current owner of the Nova Constellatio coins, who wishes to remain anonymous, acquired them in 2007 from the Ford Family Trust in a private transaction through Stack’s.

"Nova Constellatio is Latin for New Constellation, and some researchers believe that is a reference to the stars on the early American flags; a symbolic new constellation," said Ron Guth, president of PCGS CoinFacts.

The coins were the brainchild of Robert Morris who was Superintendent of Finance during the Confederation period.

"Morris became Finance Superintendent just before the Articles of Confederation took effect in 1781 and wanted to pursue the idea of federal coinage for the young United States. He hired engraver and metallurgist Benjamin Dudley, an Englishman who emigrated to Boston, to design proposed new coins for national use."

Obverse designs on the four coins feature the "Eye of Providence" with emanating rays. Surrounding it are 13 stars to symbolize the original 13 colonies. A legend reads NOVA CONSTELLATIO.

1000 Units Nova Constellatio Coin
The unique silver 1783 Nova Constellatio 1000 Units, graded PCGS PR65+. (Photo courtesy of PCGS.)

Reverses design feature an olive wreath containing the initials US and the denomination in Units. Legends read LIBERTAS – JUSTITIA (for Liberty – Justice) and the date, 1783.

Visitors to the PCGS exhibit at the coin and money show can receive an illustrated brochure on the Nova Constellatio patterns. For more information about the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Chicago, visit www.WorldsFairOfMoney.com.

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