Famous Pewter CURENCY Continental Dollar MS631776 $1 Continental Dollar, CURENCY, Pewter MS63 NGC. Breen-1089, Newman 1-C, Hodder 1-A.3, R.3. No denomination is specified on either side of the Continental dollar, but the diameter is similar to that of the Spanish Pillar dollar, upon which the U.S. dollar was eventually based. The designs are clearly based upon the February 17, 1776 issues of Continental Congress currency, which uses the same sundial and linked chains motifs, and the same legends FUGIO (Latin for "time flies"), MIND YOUR BUSINESS, AMERICAN CONGRESS, and WE ARE ONE. The names of the 13 colonies are inscribed, sometimes in abbreviated form, within individual rings. Perhaps, the Continental dollars are prototypes for a silver dollar currency, which if produced, would redeem the unbacked Continental paper money issued in quantity to fund the Revolutionary War. Most known examples are struck in white metal, which gives them the general appearance of silver, particularly when unworn. Many pieces are in VF and lower grades, which indicates they circulated. Probably, silver examples were intended to be coined in sufficient numbers to redeem the pewter pieces actually struck. A few silver pieces are known, but these are likely patterns for the circulating issue that never materialized. A lack of silver bullion condemned the Continental government to a fiat currency. Silver dollars were not struck by the United States until 1794, nearly twenty years later.
For the Continental dollars that do exist, five obverse dies and four reverse dies were used. None suggest a denomination, aside from the legend CONTINENTAL CURRENCY (or CURRENCEY, or CURENCY, as on the present piece.) Yet their historical significance is obvious, since the pieces were issued by the Revolutionary government, contemporary with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin is often credited with the designs. Elisha Gallaudet, whose initials are on Newman 3-D, was the engraver. Gallaudet also engraved the February 17, 1776 Continental Currency fractional notes.
This is an exemplary example of the famous Continental dollar. Luster shimmers throughout the dove-gray devices and lighter pearl-gray fields. All details of the design are brought up, aside from the usual slight incompleteness on the nose of the sun and the center of the sundial. The moderately wavy fields are generally unmarked, although for pedigree purposes we note a thin toned-over scratch beneath the N in CURENCY, and a second faint, thin scratch beneath the RE in ARE. A few small gray spots, mostly on the reverse, are of little importance.
In addition to its impressive technical quality, the present piece is interesting for its advanced die state. A lengthy die crack nearly bisects the left obverse, from the rim at 7:30 to the peak of the A in CONTINENTAL. This crack widens to a full-fledged break in selected areas, between the bases of the NT in CONTINENTAL and (particularly) from the tops of the GI in FUGIO to the edge of the outer inner circle. The dies are rotated approximately 40 degrees clockwise from medal turn.
We examined several recent Heritage auction appearances of the CURENCY variety, using Heritage's Permanent Auction Archives. From the examples seen, the present piece is an example of Die State IV. Die State I has no die break over the GI in FUGIO, and appears to be very scarce. Die State II has a break over the GI, but lacks the crack through the ON in CONTINENTAL. Die State III adds this crack, but omits the die break at the bases of NT. Throughout the decline of the obverse die, the reverse remains void of cracks, which is surprising given its intricate arrangement of rings, rays, and lettering. Listed on page 81 of the 2007 Guide Book. Census: 3 in 63, 3 finer (10/06).
From The Freedom Collection. (NGC ID# 2AYN, PCGS# 791)
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