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V12 2009 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 16, April 19, 2009, Article 13

QUERY: IN GOD IS OUR TRUST

At the suggestion of Joel Orosz, Bill Michal submitted the following query. -Editor
For 35 years or so, I have been an avid collector and student of the details and patterns that led to “In God We Trust” being placed on our coinage and eventually becoming our National Motto. It is well known that the phrase “In God Is Our Trust” was considered in the early phases. It even appeared on two different Compound Currency notes in the Civil War era.

uspatterns_God_Our_Trust_2043_98281184


In both the correspondence between the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of the Mint in the early 1860s as well as everything I have read in numismatic publications, that phrase is always traced back (only) to 1814 and F. S. Key’s lyrics for the Star Spangled Banner. In the fourth and final verse Key used that exact phrase. I have never come across any references to its usage before 1814. I had therefore always assumed Key composed the phrase as he wrote the lyrics.

God Is Our Trust pitcher The Jan. 2009 Stack’s auction of Americana included a small group of Creamware pitchers from England. Lot 6125 pictures and describes a pitcher dated to 1800 (not circa 1800) that carries that exact phrase. This raises the obvious question of whether Key used a phrase already in usage in England or the pitcher dates to later than 1814 or whether by pure coincidence he happened to select those precise same words.

This is my basic point: If that five word phrase was already being used in England, the story of the derivation of our National Motto needs to be traced back to its roots rather than just to 1814.

Before sending this message to you, I have raised these points and questions with Dave Bowers, Joel Orosz, Leonard Augsburger, John Adams, and David Alexander who catalogued the pitcher for Stacks. In addition I attempted an Internet search, neither of which yielded anything appropriate. My hope is that you would present this matter to your readers to see if anyone can shed light on the origin and use of “In God Is Our Trust” in England, before 1814, or both.

Perhaps one of our U.K. readers is aware of the answer, or knows where to look or who to ask. Interesting puzzle.

The pattern coin pictured above is J285 / P340 from the www.uspatterns.com web site. The pitcher image is from the Stack's web site. -Editor




Wayne Homren, Editor

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