The Fugio cents, the first coins issued by the United States under the authority of the U.S. Constitution, used a chain motif on the reverse, 13 linked circles around the motto “WE ARE ONE.”
(Side note: the Fugio cents, though not popularly known, received an oblique mention as the “first U.S. coins” on the PBS children’s game show Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? The episode centered around Sir Vile traveling back to the ancient kingdom of Lydia to steal the first minted coins. When I played along at home, I didn’t miss a single question. I wonder why…)
When the first U.S. Mint opened in 1792 and copper coinage began the next year, the cent also featured a chain on the reverse, but it was paired with a portrait of Liberty on the obverse. The Chain cent received immediate criticism.
Both the Fugio cents and the scarce Chain cents are highly prized by collectors of early copper, and the Chain cents in particular have been popular for more than a century and a half. The idea of a chain on a coin, on the other hand, took much longer to catch on.