Coins - Thomas
Jefferson Coin and Currency Set Booklet
It seems fitting that the US Mint's inaugural Coin and Currency Set recognized and honored Thomas Jefferson. We
owe him appreciation for the ease-of-use and simplicity of our monetary system. Furthermore, his efforts paved
the way for the interest in numismatics.
The Thomas Jefferson Coin and Currency Set Booklet follows the same design as the outer sleeve with the dark
reds, blues and creams forming a background pattern and the dark red patterned border and background for the
The title of the enclosed booklet proclaimed, "Thomas Jefferson: Father of America's Decimal Coinage
The booklet begins with commentary and history of America's first coinage.
We are reminded that history recognizes and we remember Thomas Jefferson as a contributor to
many aspects of our nation's birth. For example, he is remembered as the author of the Declaration of
Independence, a Minister to France, the First Secretary of State and the third President of the United States.
Very few people know how important his contributions were to the day to day business of using a decimal-based
coin and currency system.
Prior to our adoption of a national coinage system, Americans used a mixture of coins from Spain, Germany,
Portugal, France and England. Just think of the difficulties the businesses of that time period had
in converting the various coins into a common value system. Invariably, some people gained or lost value in their
transactions from one business to another with the varying coins.
The coin and currency set booklet shows that as early as 1776, Thomas Jefferson began proposing a system
"expressed by decimal notation in dollars and parts of a dollar."
Though we take our coin and currency system for granted today, it took years for Jefferson to win
his argument for a decimal coinage system.
One of Jefferson's adversaries in the coinage debate was Robert Morris. In contrast to
Jefferson's proposed decimal coin and currency, Morris advocated a system without fractions.
The lack of fractions made the Morris plan attractive, but the overall plan included other, more
difficult components. Morris wanted to keep the foreign currency as legal tender.
Thomas Jefferson argued, "Certainly in all cases where we are free to choose between easy and difficult modes of
operation, it is most rational to choose the easy."
Jefferson continued lobbying for a decimal coin and currency system. He penned his detailed plan
in his Notes on the Establishment of a Money Unit and of a Coinage for the United
On July 6, 1785, Congress passed Jefferson's decimal coin and currency plan with only minor changes.
After his success defining the decimal money, Jefferson began advocating for a national mint. He
claimed, "Coinage is peculiarly an attribute of Sovereignty" and wanted a mint in America.
This last page shows a picture of the first Mint built in 1792.
In closing, the back of the coin and currency set booklet continued the multi-colored theme with the dark
The Thomas Jefferson Coin and Currency Set with its
accompanying booklet should be prized by numismatists for its coins and currency and for its historical
lesson about Thomas Jefferson's contributions to American money.