Continental Currency replica?

Does not bear word 'copy'
By , Coin World
Published : 08/21/11
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This coin was given to me by my great aunt. Is it possible that the coin is real?

Keylan Roberts

Elizabethton, Tenn.

Dated 1776 and struck primarily in pewter (although brass and silver pieces also exist), the precise purpose of the Continental Currency coins remains somewhat murky.

The general consensus among numismatic researchers is that the coins were authorized by the Continental Congress soon after the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to serve in lieu of the $1 paper notes of the time, though no denominational legend is to be found on the pieces.

The piece submitted by Mr. Roberts is likely a replica of one of these Continental Currency coins. However, one would be hard pressed to know this at first glance as the coin does not bear the word “copy” as required by the Hobby Protection Act of 1973.

The lack of the word “copy” means it was produced prior to 1973 or it was produced thereafter in either defiance or ignorance of the law. As genuine Continental Currency coins are rare and quite valuable, this is a coin much replicated, and potential buyers should proceed with extreme caution when considering a purchase.

In its description of Continental Currency coins, the current edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”) states: “Numerous copies and replicas of these coins have been made over the years. Authentication is recommended for all pieces.”

Readers Ask concurs. However, authentication takes time and money. As this is very likely a replica piece with minimal value, submitting it to a certification service would probably be a waste of money.

It is recommended that Mr. Roberts first consult some works related to the coins, such as recent auction catalogs, in print or online, that feature full-color photos of genuine Continental Currency coins for comparison purposes.

For deeper research, Eric P. Newman’s The 1776 Continental Currency Coinage & Varieties of the Fugio Cent is the definitive source of information on the pieces, but the latest edition of this particular work dates to 1982 and provides only black and white photos.

In contrast, the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins, by Q. David Bowers, published in 2009, provides full-color illustrations of the coins.

If Mr. Roberts is still undecided on the probable authenticity of the piece, he might consider attending a large coin show where reputable certification services are on hand who can examine the piece and offer an opinion.

Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins or other items for examination without prior permission from staff member Erik Martin. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety coins. Materials sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be returned unexamined. Please address all Readers Ask inquiries to emartin@coinworld.com or call 800-673-8311, Ext. 274.

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