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    1776 Continental Dollar, Exceptional MS64
    Struck in Pewter, Newman 3-D, W-8460
    Popular EG FECIT Variety, CAC

    1776 $1 Continental Dollar, CURRENCY, Pewter, EG FECIT, MS64 PCGS. CAC. Newman 3-D, Breen-1095, W-8460, R.4.
    Ex: Charles Jay Collection. Historically and visually one of the most recognizable symbols of colonial America, the Continental dollar has a vexingly obscure past, yet it has been a fixture in the most prominent collections in numismatics since the earliest days of the hobby. The basic design is readily traced to fractional bills issued by the U.S. Continental Congress from 1775 to 1779, especially those issued in multiple denominations in 1776. The distinctly American motifs were adapted to a 1776-dated, dollar-sized coin -- some of which (perhaps 300 pieces) survive to this day -- primarily struck in pewter, although there are rare brass and silver examples as well. Only a few dozen of the survivors are in high Mint State grades, including this splendid near-Gem example, certified MS64 PCGS with CAC endorsement.

    Multiple varieties (seven in all) exist of the rather rudimentary design, which includes three different spellings of the word CURRENCY (also seen as CURENCY and CURRENCEY), plus the present variety (Newman 3-D) that includes the maker's signature, "EG FECIT." The EG FECIT inscription tells us that someone with the initials "EG" made these coins. Eric P. Newman believed the EG of that inscription was Elisha Gallaudet, who engraved plates for contemporary paper issues including the New York Water Works notes, as well as book plates, and an engraving of the Reverend George Whitefield, the English-born 18th century evangelist. Gallaudet's best works may have been a series of individually engraved silver award medals produced for the Literary Society of King's College in 1767.

    Gallaudet was born in New Rochelle, New York, the son of the Huguenot settler Pierre Gallaudet. He was the fifth of nine children. After an apprenticeship, Gallaudet worked as a New York City engraver from about 1756 until the family fled New York sometime between October 1774 and 1779, settling in Freehold, New Jersey, where he died in 1779. Newman's treatise, The Continental Dollar of 1776 Meets Its Maker, appeared in The Numismatist in August 1959 and comments:

    "No data has been found as to when during the period from October, 1774 to March, 1779 Elisha Gallaudet moved from New York to Freehold, N.J., but he certainly must have done so before August of 1776 when the British began their long occupation of New York."

    Recent research by Erik Goldstein and David McCarthy agree with the timing of Gallaudet's move from New York, but they embrace little else of the traditional Continental dollar story, particularly its very origins and maker. A pair of articles in The Numismatist (January 2018 by Goldstein and McCarthy, and July 2018 by Erik Goldstein) suggest that the Continental dollar was neither a dollar, nor an American issue at all, but rather a circa 1783 medal produced in Europe, and that Elisha Gallaudet was neither the engraver nor ever a contractor with the Continental Congress. The authors maintain he was the wrong "EG" -- from the wrong decade, and the wrong continent.

    There are perplexing questions about the Continental dollar yet to be answered, yet the issue itself remains as always -- a popular and scarce relic bridging America's earliest colonial/post-colonial history. Its intrigue and allure remain intact. This impressive specimen features a semicircular die crack on the reverse that connects nearly all of the rings. The surfaces are remarkably well preserved and lightly toned with two shades of gray, retaining noticeable luster. There are only a few trivial surface marks that are expected on any 235+ year-old coin. Eye appeal is excellent. Listed on page 87 of the 2020 Guide Book.
    Ex: Charles Jay Collection (Stack's, 10/1967), lot 43; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2012), lot 3005, which brought $126,500.
    From the Al Boka Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 2AYU, PCGS# 795)

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2020
    23rd-26th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 31
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,124

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