Impressive 1776 Continental Dollar, EG FECIT, MS641776 $1 Continental Dollar, CURRENCY, Pewter, EG FECIT MS64 PCGS. CAC. Newman 3-D, Hodder 3-B, W-8460, Low R.4. The EG FECIT Continental Currency variety is relatively common, and usually assigned an R.3 rarity rating. However, we feel that it is somewhat scarcer than that rating implies, and here assign the Low R.4 rating. A number of Mint State examples survive, perhaps one or two dozen, mostly in the lower numerical range. In our opinion, the present piece ranks among the finest three or four pieces surviving today. Examples are known in pewter and in silver, the latter being extremely rare with just two known. At one time it was believed that a single brass example existed, although such a piece is apparently lost today, if it ever did exist. Such a coin is still recorded in the literature from time to time, such as the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins, where it is assigned the variety W-8465.
This extraordinary Choice Mint State piece has highly lustrous light gray surfaces with slightly deeper patina splashed over both surfaces. The surfaces are exceptional with only a few trivial marks on each side. The overall eye appeal is remarkable. Collectors seldom have an opportunity to acquire a high grade example of the variety. Mint State examples appear in our sales about once every two years.
Who Made It?
That someone with the initials EG engraved the Continental Currency dies is indisputable as those initials appear on this variety. For many years numismatists have attempted to identify the mysterious EG. Crosby stated the obvious when he said that EG were "probably the initials of the die cutter." Past suggestions for the identity of EG have included Ephraim Getz (The Numismatist, June 1909) and Elbridge Gerry (Newman, 1952). Those who suggested Getz had no known documentation, and solely based their assumption on the fact that a Peter Getz of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was well known as the engraver of the 1792 Washington President coins. No person of the name Ephraim Getz has been found in any contemporary records. In fact, a recent search of www.ancestry.com http://www.ancestry.com shows the first of that name was born circa 1844. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts was a member of the Continental Congress and a member of the committee to superintend the treasury. Among his duties was a development of a method to supply gold and silver to the Army. Newman writes that the initials "might refer to his suggestion of the coinage rather than that he made the actual dies."
For the August 1959 issue of The Numismatist, Eric Newman wrote an article that updated his earlier 1952 study, and made a strong case for Elisha Gallaudet as the die sinker. The workmanship is clearly from an artist of modest talent, or someone unaccustomed to die sinking. Newman wrote "The dies for the 1776 Continental dollars are distinctly those made by an engraver rather than a die sinker. There is no three dimensional effect attempted."
Gallaudet was an engraver from New York, who was born in New Rochelle in 1730. As early as 1752 he had completed elaborate engravings, and two decades later he was identified as the engraver of plates for paper money. He eventually moved to Freehold, New Jersey in the mid-1770s, certainly prior to British occupation of New York in August 1776.
Newman concluded that Gallaudet was the likely engraver as he was the only American or European engraver with the initials EG who was active at the time, he engraved plates for New York paper money, both for the colony and the city, he lacked artistic skill that is evident on both the Continental Currency coinage and the paper money, a currently living (in 1959) member of the Gallaudet family had been told that Elisha Gallaudet "prepared the first United States coin."
Although we are unable to say with absolute certainty that Elisha Gallaudet prepared the dies for the Continental Currency coinage, Eric Newman's research provides an extremely strong case from circumstantial evidence. Since his 1959 article, all catalogers and authors have stated that Gallaudet was the responsible artist for these coins.
Will Nipper presents an intriguing hypothesis in his book, In Yankee Doodle's Pocket, although he admits that his hypothesis is unlikely: "Another idea, unlikely and founded on no more than this author's hunch, is that EG might have a second meaning. As it does in other contexts, EG might stand for exempli gratis, or 'for the sake of example.' Thus, the second meaning of EG FECIT, in less than proper Latin, might have been something like, 'made for the sake of example.' In this scenario, the variety with EG FECIT could represent a pattern and, contrary to general belief, might have been made early in the series."
From The Collection of a Patriotic American. (NGC ID# 2AYU, PCGS# 795)
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