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US Fugio Cent (Needs Cleaning) 1787
Steve sent us this picture of his fugio (meaning time flies) cent. This is an interesting coin in several ways. First, fugio cents were the first official issue of the fledgling United States Congress. Second, Steve's coin is not an original, but a post-1787 production known as the New Haven Restrike. Third, Steve's coin is in desparate need of a cleaning!
Fugio cents are a complicated topic. We have another page about them that concentrates on the many replica coins that abound throughout the US and the rest of the world. Please read this page also. It has pictures of both real and fake coins. Click to this CoinQuestpage.
Original fugio cents in good condition are worth 1000s of US dollars. The catalogs list some varieties at over $10,000 for well preserved specimens.
You can view a thorough treatment of fugio cents at the Department of Special Collections, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, including a description of Steve's restrike, which were coins apparently created around 1860 by the Scovill Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut.
As a restrike, Steve's coin is worth about $50 to $100 US dollars, maybe a little more. Well preserved restrikes sell for $500 to $1000.
But what about that goopy tape on the back of Steve's coin? Certainly the coin would be worth more if it were not there. At CoinQuest you will hear a recurring theme:
NEVER CLEAN A COIN. CLEANING RUINS VALUE.
and this theme is very true. Cleaning does ruin a coin's value. But there are cases like Steve's where a skilled craftsman could remove the offensive material from the coin and make it more valuable. Curators at museums do this all the time, and, sure enough, coin collectors are not out of luck in this department. The experts at Numismatic Conservation Service will clean your coins professionally, for a fee. NCS has a good reputation in the coin business and would do a bang-up job with Steve's fugio cent.
If Steve's cent were a genuine 1787 coin, I would recommend NCS to Steve in a heartbeat. As it is, since the coin does not carry much value, a little warm soap and water might help. (Sorry, Steve. Wish I had better news!)