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Coinage of Vermont – 1785 – 1788

The Independent Republic of Vermont Coinage

In 1785, Vermont was not a state in the United States or a colony – it was an independent republic. Reuben Harmon, of Rupert, Vermont was authorized to strike copper coins for the independent republic of Vermont. Colonel William Coley, who was a goldsmith from New York, was charged with creating the designs and the dies. Eventually, over that four-year period (1785 to 1788) fourteen different designs were tried and all circulated due to the scarcity of copper coinage in Vermont. The majority of these coins are well circulated and were struck, unfortunately, on poor-quality copper planchets.

There are 13 major types, some of which we know a great deal about and others very little.

1. The first one is a Vermont obverse with an Immune Columbia reverse. This coin bears a portrait facing right with the words “VERMON AUCTORI” (By the Authority of Vermont) around the periphery. The reverse has the goddess of Liberty seated, holding a shield and the scales of justice with “IMMUNE COLUMBIA” around the periphery. This reverse was used on early Nova Constellation colonial coinage. Only 30 Vermont examples are known to exist. Below is the finest.

(The 1785 Vermont Immune Columbia issue, Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

2. Next is the 1785 dated coin with the Vermont Landscape (Sun rising over the Green Mountains) and a large plough obverse and the legend “VERMONTS RES. PUBLICA” called the VERMONTS variety. The reverse displays an all-seeing eye with rays and stars around. The legend is “STELLA QUARTA DECIMA” which translates to 14th Star, Vermont being the 14th State.  

(A 1785 ”VERMONTS” Copper, Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

3, The next issue is exactly like the one above except that the obverse legend is “VERMONTIS. RES. PUBLICA.” The reverse is exactly the same.

(A 1785 VERMONTIS Copper coin. Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

4. The fourth issue, similar to the prior two, is called the Vermontensium issue. The date was changed to 1786 on the obverse legend is “VERMONTENSIUM. RES. PUBLICA.” The rest of the obverse and reverse designs are exactly the same.

(A 1786 VERMONTENSIUM Copper coin, Obverse [left], Reverse {right].)

5. The next major type is called the 1786 “Baby Head” copper. The reason it is called “Baby Head” is the shape and style of the execution of the head and portrait on the obverse. The portrait of what appears to be a very young male faces right. Around the periphery is “AUCTORI VERMON.” which translates to “BY THE AUTHORITY OF VERMONT.” The reverse has the goddess of Liberty, seated facing left, with a staff in her left hand and an olive branch in her right and “INDE ET LIBE” (Independence and Liberty) around. Ribbons behind the head look like a bib.

(1786 Baby Head Vermont Copper, Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

6. The last design of 1786 was one with a portrait facing left and the legend “VERMON. AUCTORI” (Authorized by Vermont) around the periphery of the obverse and the reverse was dominated by the goddess of Liberty, seated, facing left with “INDE ET LIB.”  around the periphery.

(1786 Vermon Auctori, Bust Left, Obverse [left], Reverse {right].)

7. The first design dated 1787, was the exact same copy of the last design – “Bust Left” – but with the date changed to 1787.

(THE 1787 Vermon Auctori, Bust Left, Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

8. The next design was meant to imitate the designs of the British copper coins that circulated prior to, during, and after the Revolutionary War.  On that coin, a bust of George III is on the obverse and encircled by the inscription GEORGIVS. III. REX. . The reverse with a seated female embodiment of Britannia. The reason this was chosen was to make their circulation and exchange easier outside of Vermont.

(The 1787 Britannia Copper, Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

9. The Ninth type is dated 1787 but has the bust now facing right. The bust is encircled by “VERMON AUCTORI” as usual. The reverse has the goddess of Liberty encircled by “INDE ET LIB.”

(The 1787 Bust Right Copper, Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

10. The Tenth coin was the exact same coin, same devices and legends on both the obverse and reverse but with the date 1788.

(The 1788 Bust Right Copper, Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

11. The Eleventh Vermont coin type is the same as the Tenth variety except that it has a Backwards “C” in the word “AUCTORI” in the obverse legend. Otherwise, it is identical. This is a very rare coin.

(The 1788 Vermont Copper, Bust Right, Backwards C, Obverse[left], Reverse [right].)

12. The Twelfth Type is one that has stars incorporated into the reverse legend. It appears as “ *ET LIB * *INDE” which makes it different from all of the prior examples.

(The 1788 Variety with the reverse Legend “ *ET LIB* *INDE” which is unusual. Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

13. The Thirteenth and final Vermont Copper is a British imitation coin that has the obverse legend of “GEORGIVS III REX” and a portrait of King George III facing right with a Britannia reverse facing left with the motto “INDE ET LIB”. Scarce and popular type.

(A 1788 Georgivs III Rex Vermont Copper, Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

The Vermont coinage began in 1785 while Vermont was still a Republic. The first coins, displaying the Vermont landscape, are highly desirable. The combination of a Vermont obverse with an IMMUNE COLUMBIA reverse is another much sought-after variety. The BRITANNIA coins were a great attempt to mimic the circulating British coins and they traveled all across the colonies, into Canada and the Caribbean.

Many of the varieties of these Vermont coppers are extremely rare. Even for those with a great deal of patience and with deep pockets, the prospects of completing a set of all of the major types is fairly slim as some coins are nearly impossible to find for sale.

Finally, Vermont Copper coins circulated heavily and for many years, so finding more than one high-grade example on an unblemished planchet is quite difficult.

DateTypeMintageVG ValueAU Value
1785Vermont Immune Columbia30 Known$12,000$85,000
1785VERMONTS CopperUnknown$475$16,500
1785VERMONTIS CopperUnknown$650$22,500
1786VERMONTENSIUM CopperUnknown$475$11,000
1786Baby HeadUnknown$425$12,500
1786Bust Facing LeftUnknown$550$4,000
1787Bust Facing LeftUnknown$16,500$47,500
 1787Bust RightUnknown$175$3,800
1788Bust RightUnknown$135$2,650
1788Backward “C” in AUCTORI25 – 35 Known$12,500$90,000
1788“ET LIB* *INDE”Unknown$600$17,500
1788GEORGIVS III REXUnknown$1,000$16,000

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