Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    1776 Continental Dollar in Silver, VF35
    CURENCY, Newman 1-C, W-8450
    One of Two Examples Known

    1776 Continental Dollar, CURENCY, Silver, Newman 1-C, Breen-1091, Hodder 1-A.3, W-8450, R.8, VF35 NGC. CAC. 373.3 grains. The first silver dollar struck for the United States and the single most important piece of numismatic iconography of the American Revolution. One of only four known Continental Currency dollars struck in silver, split evenly between two varieties (Newman 1-C and 3-D). This example is of the Newman 1-C variety, and features an obverse with the CURENCY spelling and without the engraver's signature. The reverse die is actually a reworked iteration of the A and B dies, heavily lapped and recut so that the rings, first depicted with dots, then dotted lines, are now represented with thick, solid lines. This example is the most recently discovered silver Continental Currency dollar, first coming to widespread attention in 1987.

    Numismatic Discoveries
    Pewter examples of the 1776 Continental Currency dollar were reported by numismatists on both sides of the Atlantic from the earliest days of the hobby, but silver examples were only recognized later. Newman 1-C was discovered first, when a piece turned up in the collection of Dr. Charles Clay (1801-1893), an English surgeon whose numismatic interests focused on the Isle of Man and the American colonies. His collection was sold jointly by William H. Strobridge and W. Elliott Woodward in 1871. In his introduction to the catalog, Strobridge wrote, "In the list of Continental issues, we find for the first time the SILVER DOLLAR of 1776." The coin was described in lot 867, in the section on Continental Currency and State Tokens and Coins:

    "Dollar of 1776. Obv. A sun dial, 'Continental Currency' (spelt with one r.) in a large circle, the sun moving within an inner circle, with the legend 'Fugio'; 'Mind your business,' in Exergue; date below all. Rev. A large circle of rings linked together, each one bearing the name of one of the original States; 'American Congress' on a circle drawn within the circle of links; 'We are one,' within all. Edge milled, rim dotted. Size 26. Has been considerably circulated as a coin, still in fine preservation. Extremely rare. Silver."


    The lot realized $100, a strong price for the time, to Boston dealer W. Elliot Woodward. This discovery coin remained the only known example of the Newman 1-C variety in silver for more than 100 years, passing through the collections of numismatic giants like Lorin G. Parmelee, James W. Ellsworth, and John Work Garrett, before finding a home in the extraordinary collection of Donald G. Partrick. When sold in our 2015 FUN sale of selections from the Partrick Collection, it realized $1,527,500.

    The Newman 3-D variety, with the diagnostic EG FECIT inscription on the obverse and CURRENCY spelled correctly, also first appeared in England, when an example was featured in a December 1886 sale conducted by Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge. It was tersely cataloged, even by the standards of the day:

    "Chain Dollar, silver, obv. Sundial, CONTINENTAL. CURENCY. 1776, rev. Chain, AMERICAN. CONGRESS., rare and very fine"



    Curiously, American dealer Harlan Page Smith was the consignor of this piece. It was included in the Third Day's Sale, in a section titled, "A Collection of English Military and Naval Medals and Foreign Decorations, and Gold & Silver English & Foreign Coins, the Property of H.P. Smith, Esq." Why Smith, who was still actively conducting auction sales of his own in 1886 and 1887, would consign this coin to a British sale remains unknown. It would go on to grace the Earle and Newcomer Collections, with the latter exhibiting it at the famous 1914 ANS Exhibition, and was later a highlight of the Eric P. Newman Collection.

    A second example of the Newman 3-D variety in silver was obtained by H.O. Granberg, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He displayed it, along with many other pieces in his collection, at the 1911 ANA Convention. Edgar H. Adams, in reviewing the exhibits for the September 1911 issue of The Numismatist, wrote: "Undoubtedly the best and most extensive of all the exhibits shown was this one ... There were so many rarities in Mr. Granberg's exhibit that they were hard to detail. Perhaps the greatest rarity was the Continental Currency dollar of 1776, struck in silver." This particular piece would later be owned by "Col." E.H.R. Green (who also owned for a time the Newman piece described above), and would go on to take pride of place in the F.C.C. Boyd and John J. Ford, Jr. Collections. It was purchased by Donald G. Partrick at the Ford sale in 2003 for $425,500 and sold in our 2015 offering of selections from the Partrick Collection for $1,527,500.

    The Romano Example
    The present coin was the last of the four silver 1776 Continental Currency dollars to be discovered. It came to light in June 1987, when Stack's handled the estate of coin dealer Don Corrado Romano. Cataloger Carl W.A. Carlson wrote of it that: "This specimen is apparently unlisted anywhere in American numismatic literature. Until we received it on consignment, we were unaware of the existence of any silver example of the N. 1-C dies other than the Garrett specimen." It was a surprise even to the most dedicated colonial numismatists.

    Though given a slightly lower grade than the XF40 Garrett-Partrick example, this impressive VF35 piece exhibits less circulation wear. It is of a later die state, however, with die buckling weakening the central obverse design elements in an arc moving from the sunburst at the upper left of the obverse through the N of CURENCY, which is completely lost to view. The rest of the obverse legends remain bold, including the all-important date, with the classic FUGIO and MIND YOUR BUSINESS wording remaining clear. This example's die state is notably later than the other known Newman 1-C in silver, suggesting that many other pieces were struck in between them. The reverse is more generally distinct, with only a small loss of detail evident on the Maryland and Virginia rings. Softly toned surfaces exhibit shades of rose, amber, and sea-green coloration, and the overall presentation is quite attractive.

    Don Corrado Romano was born in Salerno, Italy, on January 21, 1903. He was the son of an Italian banker who encouraged his collecting interests at an early age. His family emigrated to the United States in 1915, settling in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was actively buying and selling coins by 1918, at just 15 years of age, and went on to become the proprietor of Romano's Coin Shop and the Worthy Coin Corporation. Three years after his death in 1984, his remarkable coin collection was sold by Stack's. How he acquired his Newman 1-C Continental Currency dollar in silver remains unknown. Prominent dealer/collector John J. Ford, Jr. purchased this coin at the Romano sale and retained it until he sold his collection through Stack's in a series of auctions in the early 2000s. It was acquired by Jon Hanson for Donald G. Partrick at the seventh Ford sale in 2005. Thus, like Ford, Donald Partrick once owned both known examples of the Newman 1-C in silver, a remarkable feat for any collector. The coin has been off the market since.

    Our Enigmatic First Dollar Coins
    The Continental Currency dollars have been the subject of much speculation over the years, with talented numismatists reaching very different conclusions. These disagreements primarily center on the origins of these pieces: were they intended to be coins or medals? If coins, were they authorized or should they be considered private issues? Where were they made and by whom? Ultimately, the evidence we are left to sift is that which we can glean from the coins themselves and the scant literary record.

    John Kleeberg, in the December 2018 issue of the Journal of Early American Numismatics, provided an overview of the controversies and the specific areas of disagreement. Kleeberg's own conclusions, which are examined in detail in his article but can only be touched upon briefly here, are summarized as follows:

    "1. The Continental Currency dollars have security edges, which serve no useful purpose on a medal and are hence rarely encountered upon them.
    "2. The hand-cut dies stylistically resemble the work of an engraver more than that of a die sinker, and the various idiosyncrasies found upon them reaffirm Eric P. Newman's identification of the engraver as Elisha Gallaudet, working mostly in New York.
    "3. If the Continental Currency coinage was produced in New York the summer of 1776, shortly before its capture by the English, virtually the entire issue would have ended up in English hands, explaining why Americans outside of New York were unaware of its existence and also why so many of them ended up in England.
    "4. A newspaper article exists from June 1776 reporting on plans to establish a "Continental copper coin" and another from December 1776 reports that large size copper and silver coins have been struck."


    Q. David Bowers, in the second edition of his Whitman Encyclopedia of Early American Coins, summarizes the questions raised and theories proposed about these intriguing pieces, and concludes that "it is the present author's opinions that these are coins," while acknowledging that many questions remain unanswered concerning them. However, collectors of early American coins are used to unsolved mysteries surrounding the coins they cherish, and the appeal of the Continental Currency dollars is perhaps stronger now than it has ever been. Listed on page 87 of the 2021 Guide Book.

    Roster of 1776 Continental Currency Dollars in Silver
    The following roster was compiled with the assistance of Bryce Brown, Charles Davis, Ron Guth, and Saul Teichman.

    Newman 1-C Specimens
    1. XF40 NGC. Dr. Charles Clay (William Strobridge, 12/1871), lot 867; George Seavey (Descriptive Catalog by William Strobridge, 6/1873), item 836; Lorin G. Parmelee (New York Coin & Stamp Co., 6/1890), lot 573; John G. Mills (S.H. & H. Chapman, 4/1904), lot 110; James W. Ellsworth (M. Knoedler & Company with Wayte Raymond, 1923); Garrett Family Collection (Bowers & Ruddy, 10/1980), lot 1491; John J. Ford, Jr. (Stack's, 10/2003), lot 2, realized $287,500; Jon Hanson; Donald G. Partrick (Heritage, 1/2015), lot 5838, realized $1,527,500.
    2. VF35 NGC. CAC. Don Corrado Romano (Stack's, 6/1987), lot 24, realized $99,000; John J. Ford, Jr. (Stack's, 1/2005), lot 159, realized $345,000; Jon Hanson; Donald G. Partrick. The present coin.

    Newman 3-D Specimens
    1. MS63 NGC. Harlan Page Smith (Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 12/1886), lot 450*; S.H. & H. Chapman (5/1887 McCoye sale, lot 238 -- withdrawn and sold privately); George H. Earle (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 2132; Waldo Newcomer (Inventory Number 2751; exhibited at the 1914 ANS Exhibition and illustrated in the catalog; B. Max Mehl, 1933); "Col." E.H.R. Green; Burdette G. Johnson; Mary Cruzan (May 1956); Eric P. Newman; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (Heritage, 5/2014), lot 30423, realized $1,410,000.
    2. MS62 NGC. H.O. Granberg (exhibited at the 1911 ANA Convention in Chicago and at the 1914 ANS Exhibition, described on page 19 of the catalog); "Col." E.H.R. Green (both examples of this issue are listed in the Green Collection appraisal compiled by F.C.C. Boyd); Theodore Grand (Stack's, 12/1947), lot 10; F.C.C. Boyd; John J. Ford, Jr. (Stack's, 10/2003), lot 7, realized $425,500; Jon Hanson; Donald G. Partrick (Heritage, 1/2015), lot 5842, realized $1,527,500.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 2AYS, Variety PCGS# 793, Base PCGS# 791)


    View all of [The Donald G. Partrick Collection ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2021
    22nd-25th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 40
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,489

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

    Sold on Apr 22, 2021 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 October 28 - 29 World & Ancient Coins Platinum Night and Signature Online Auction.

    Learn about consigning with us

    I'm very pleased with how you run the auctions and am certain to consign coins at future events.
    Jeff H.,
    Talking Rock, GA
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search