In July, 1776 the American Revolution had entered its following, vital year. The shooting at Lexington and Concord and George Washington's appointment as chief in chief of the Continental Army were a year previous. The British had unexpectedly evacuated occupied Boston, and the commander and crowd were enjoying an all-too-update time of victory.
Sitting since May 1775, the Second Continental Congress had stirred from attempted conciliation with the British Crown to a forthright vote for Independence on July 2, 1776. On July 4 the first lasting delegates signed the vital record which affirmed that the 13 past colonies "were and by right ought to be liberated and independent states."
Loosely united even in the base of war, the new states had no unity anything in penny and currency. Each began printing its own paper currency valued both in British-approach pounds, shillings and pence and in the universally friendly Spanish Milled buck. The states valued the Spanish money at wildly different toll ranging from eight shillings in New York to 32 shillings sixpence in South Carolina. In the first flush of independence, Congress apparently decisive to fast America's sovereignty by launching a distinctive new money, known to numismatists as the Continental Dollar. Sometime in July 1776, most maybe in New York City, these coins were struck in silver, brass and pewter. More than 60 outlast nowadays, of which the superior number are pewter.
The coins' distinctively American designs are attributed to philosopher, directory poet and statesman Benjamin Franklin. The facade bears a sundial with the Franklin-esque Latin motto FUGIO, "I (Time) Fly," coupled with an English admonition MIND YOUR BUSINESS below. The legend CONTINENTAL CURRENCY and bold meeting 1776 begin within the outer beaded border. The problem presents 13 continual relations, each influence a disarray name or abbreviation from N'HAMP'S to VIRGINIA. At the center, AMERICAN CONGRESS surrounds the hopeful motto WE ARE ONE.
Noted numismatic scholar Eric P. Newman published a definitive review of the Continental coins in 1952, noting the chief frontage types with their charming mixture of spellings, CURENCY, CURRENCY and CURRENCEY. All show FUGIO between two sound concentric lines, but the most fascinating coins have an added engraver's "signature," EG FECIT.
Numismatists usually settle that "EG" was Elisha Gallaudet, an experienced line message engraver of Freehold, New Jersey. Gallaudet was very known with the Continental Dollar invent, since he had carved the same cipher on the One Sixth Dollar Continental Currency comments of Feb. 17, 1776, plus sun dial, FUGIO and links. FECIT, Latin for MADE IT, was a widely worn identification usual to collectors of contemporary European coins and medals. Researchers think that Gallaudet only adapted his paper money shape to the designed new coins at the invitation of Congress, probably during the rash living of July 1776 when heavy French loans were projected to offer the vital silver for a new native money.
The July 1776 through September 1778 cycle of Continental Currency written by Franklin's old definite of Hall & Sellers stumped the one-dollar receipt, and New York State's August 1776 currency cycle also skips over this then-clever denomination. This plain slotted was almost sure to have been crammed by the future new silver coin. Study of 1776 New York and Philadelphia newspaper hearsay leads researchers to suppose that the brass coins were future to circulate not as dollars but as pence, to expand and reinstate the spacious category of assorted coppers then in use.
The silver and brass piece may have been planned as dollars and pennies, but the reason of the pewter coins is less clear. They may have been struck as a crisis appraise after the want of gold barred a silver change. With the need for brass in cannon-making eliminating that alloy, pewter would have been the next plausible change facts. Pewter was used everywhere for household tools including dishes. Less perilous for weapon-making, tin-based pewter would have made an acceptable emergency money. Virtually any metal would have made an enviable alternative for unsecured Continental paper, which promptly lost its profit with the start of the bind of navy disasters that virtually swamped Washing-ton's forces later in 1776.
American defeat in the contend of Long British occupation followed island of New York City. Continuing American retreats led ultimately to the deficit of New Jersey, the fall of Philadelphia and the dreadful coldness at Valley Forge. By dead 1777, the cachet of Congress and the merit of its paper currency were nearly vanished, and the idea of a metallic Continental penny receded like a vision.
A beloved with collectors of Early American change, Continental dollars are sometimes included in superior sort collections for example of the first U.S. dollar coin. Obviously since some use in exchange, existing pewter and brass specimens vary in grade from Very Fine to Uncirculated, while the silver pieces also show anecdotal degrees of circulation. High points on both sides of the coin are the rings, which show the first traces of dress.
An assortment of restrikes live, the first being made for the 1876 Centennial celebration, with additional strikings charming place over the years. Porous cast counterfeits abound, making practiced authentication a need, particularly for slash grade pieces. All the issues do not conform to any genuine ensign, varying both in authority and diameter.
Ultimately the new United States won the protracted war, but the first federally authorized coinage was not to occur until 1787. This took the form of copper cents direction (of all stuff!) a healthy sun over a sun dial with the mottos FUGIO and MIND YOUR BUSINESS, and with 13 links and WE ARE ONE on the inverse. After 11 years, Gallaudet's designs at last came into their own.
Diameter: 37.7-40.7 millimeters (varies) Weight: 15.03-18.51 grams (varies) Composition: Pewter (.950+ tin and start.050 sketch elements) Edge: Twin folio ornamentation.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Alexander, David T. and DeLorey, Thomas K. Coin World Comprehensive Catalog & Encyclopedia of United States Coins, World Almanac-Pharos Books, New York, 1990. Breen, Walter, Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, Doubleday/FCI, New York, 1988. Hodder, Michael J. "The Continental Currency Coinage of 1776, a Trial Die and Metallic Emission Sequence," The American Numismatic Association Centennial Anthology, Colorado Springs, CO. 1991. Mossman, Philip L. Money of the American Colonies and Confederation, a Numismatic, Economic & Historical Correlation, American Numismatic Society, New York, 1993. Newman, Eric P. The 1776 Continental Currency Coinage Varieties of the Fugio Cent, Wayte Raymond Inc., New York, 1952.
Coin Information Provided Courtesy NGC
Photo courtesy the US Mint