In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday on May 26, Coin World
is publishing a series of posts taking readers through coins related
to major U.S. wars.
Our Memorial Day series begins with the war that turned
13 colonies into the United States of America. The American
Revolutionary War began in 1775 and lasted until 1783, when the United
States won their independence from the British Empire.
Many coins bear a connection to the Revolutionary War. Among them
Continental Dollars: The Continental dollar
coin was the first coin to serve as purely American currency in 1776,
the same year the 13 colonies declared independence.
"In recognition of the solidarity of the Colonies and their
assumption of the right as a sovereign entity to coin their own
monies, plans were made to issue a Silver Dollar,” Ron Guth of PCGS CoinFacts writes.
The coins were struck in pewter, brass and silver with designs that
were provided by Benjamin Franklin, according to Guth.
MS-66 pewter version is valued at $450,000.
Continental dollars are the most rare and most valuable. PCGS has
records of only two specimens of silver coins struck with the
inscriptions EG FECIT and FUGIO. One of these two coins, graded Mint
State 63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., sold on May 16, 2014,
for $1,410,000. The coin was a highlight of the fourth auction from
the collection of 102-year-old numismatist Eric P. Newman.
See PCGS CoinFacts listings for Continental dollar
1976 Revolutionary War
Bicentennial: Nearly 2.5 billion coins were struck in 1975 and
1976 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the signing of the
Declaration of Independence, with the quarter dollars, half dollars
and dollars bearing special reverse designs and a dual 1776-1976
The quarter reverse featured a portrait of a
Colonial drummer that resembled a character from the the famous
Spirit of ’76 painting. Independence Hall fills the reverse
of the Bicentennial half dollar, while the dollar reverse is
emblazoned with the Liberty Bell superimposed over the moon.
"Collectors and non-collectors alike delighted in the
novelty of circulating commemoratives in 1976,” Gerald Tebben wrote
in a Coin World story published on Dec. 11, 2000. "In a
year in which any kind of national celebration failed to get off the
ground, the coins served as a binder for a nation still reeling from
the 1975 fall of Saigon and the Nixon presidency."
1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots silver dollar: The
silver dollar was available during the year that marked the 275th
birthday of Crispus Attucks, the first casualty of the American
Attucks, whose portrait is featured on
coin’s obverse, was among the colonists shot to death during the
Boston Massacre of 1770 after a late-night skirmish with British
troops. The African-American man is honored by the coin along with the
all-black 1st Rhode Island Regiment, and James Armistead, “who stood
by General Lafayette’s side when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown”
after serving as a double-agent working against Cornwallis, the U.S. Mint website reads.
coin’s obverse was designed by John Mercanti and its reverse, which
features the proposed but never built Black Patriots Memorial, was
designed by Ed Dwight.
American-Revolution-related numismatic items include:
1982 250th anniversary of George Washington’s
birth half-dollar: A coin that celebrates the American
general who embodies the Revolutionary War.
Lafayette silver dollar: A coin that celebrates the French
general who helped turn the tide of the Revolutionary War but perhaps
1926 American Independence
Sesquicentennial silver half dollar and gold $2.50 quarter
eagle: Two coins honoring a major Revolution anniversary before
the Bicentennial made it cool.
1781 Daniel Morgan at Cowpens medal: Gen.
Morgan led the American forces to a crucial victory in South Carolina
after the British captured Charleston and had Revolutionary troops in
the South on the ropes.
This list, of course, is far from comprehensive. Which American
Revolution-related coins are we forgetting? Tell us in the comment