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Post-Colonial Copper Coins: An Introduction

In the coin collecting market, the main factor that drives the price of a coin, surprisingly, is not rarity... It is demand. There are many areas in coin collecting that have incredible rarities at affordable prices, simply because there is not currently enough interest in that segment of coin collecting. Post-Colonial Copper Coins, often referred to as Colonial Copper, were issued by the individual States around the founding of the United States, and are often quite affordable and rare, as well as rich in history. In this article we’ll look at a couple examples from different Colonies.


Struck starting in 1785, Connecticut issued many varieties of copper coinage, in fact; there are over 125 different varieties known today. A few of them are listed in The Red Book, but since this is an introduction, we will just show the example we have currently available. This 1787 example graded Fine 12 by PCGS features a Draped Bust Facing Left on the Obverse and Lady Liberty Seated on the Reverse.

New Jersey

The state of New Jersey struck only 3 million total coins, starting in 1786 through 1788. Over 140 known varieties exist, making many of them quite rare. The obverse features a horse above a plow and the words “NOVA CÆSAREA” meaning New Jersey. Many slight design varieties exist for the obverse, such as date placement, with a sprig above the plow, etc. The Reverse features a United States Shield and the words “E PLURIBUS UNUM” meaning One Composed of Many. This was the first time this phrase or legend was used on a coin, later becoming a feature of United States coinage.

Circulated examples of many Colonial Coppers can be found for only a few hundred dollars, and since it is not a widely collected segment of United States coinage, it is possible to cherry-pick rare varieties if you have enough knowledge on the subject. In my opinion, the most important thing to look for when collecting Colonial Coppers, as well as any coin, is to buy coins with good surface quality and no major damage. Old copper coins typically are in very poor condition, and it can be a challenge just to find coins that are not corroded or damaged in some way. We will continue to explore this segment of coin collecting more in future articles, including how to attribute varieties, grading & more examples from different States.


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