Ten bucks says the next Dan Brown novel centers on this money mystery: In 1776, the Continental Congress struck a coin called the Continental Currency Dollar. In 1787, the U.S. government minted its very first coin, the Fugio cent. Both coins bore this cryptic phrase: “Mind Your Business.”
Back in the day, men were men and coins didn’t have sappy mottoes like E Pluribus Unum.
Now, of course, our coins say “E Pluribus Unum”-which translates to the Lord of the Rings-esque “Out of Many, One”-but for a minute there, some of our earliest and most important coins bore that bizarre, faintly puritanical slogan.
Here’s the weird thing though-there’s no official explanation for who created it, what it meant or how it ended up on our currency.
Some reports credit Benjamin Franklin with the slogan, which was accompanied on the coin by the word “Fugio” (Latin for “I fly”) on a sundial. Combining the messages, the two are believed to warn fledgling Americans that time flies, so keep your mind on your money (and your money on your mind. It’s just like Snoop says, see).
The U.S. had just told England to piss off in 1776, so it stands to reason that the founding fathers had one big message to get across, other than that bit about all men being created equal: Mind your own damn business.
How Do We Know All This? Cuz we’re brilliant. Also:
What’s up with that Fugio cent is the #8 most frequently asked question to The American Numismatic Association.
According to the U.S. Mint, “E Pluribus Unum” didn’t make an appearance on our money until 1795.
There are other mystery coins. Brown, are you taking notes?
More coin nerd talk, courtesy of the University of Notre Dame Special Collections.
If you ever wanted to spend $5,500 to buy a penny, now’s your chance.
-Erin Barajas, Serious Coin contributor
Photo credit: Department of Special Collections, University of Notre Dame