US Coins

Silver 1776 Continental Currency dollar brings $1.41M

Graded NGC Mint State 63, the 1776 Continental Currency dollar illustrated, cataloged as the finest known of four examples struck in silver, brought $1.41 million at auction May 16 by Heritage Auctions.

Original images courtesy of iStock Getty and Heritage Auctions

One of four 1776 Continental Currency dollars struck in silver realized $1.41 million May 16 in Heritage Auctions’ sale in New York City of Part IV of the Eric P. Newman Collection.

The price realized for the coin includes the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee added to the final closing hammer price.

The coin is graded Mint State 63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., which also reported that the $1.41 million price tag is nearly three times larger than the previous auction record for a Continental dollar.

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Heritage's catalog describes the 1776 Continental Currency dollars as one of the most "important and historically interesting" coins in U.S. history.

"They have a distinctively American character, as our first dollar coin, although not denominated as such," the auction house's catalog reads. "They were struck at a crucial time in our nation's history. The young country badly needed a medium of exchange to continue to finance the American Revolution, and to promote confidence in the paper currency as well. The silver pieces are among the rarest and most valuable coins in the American Colonial series."

And the one that just sold?

"This coin is the finest-known silver example, with no serious challenger," Heritage's catalog reads.

The coin was one of 687 lots in Heritage Auctions' Part IV sale of selections from the Eric P. Newman Collection May 16 and 17 in New York City. The sale brought total prices realized of just over $11 million.

'EG made it'

Two pieces have the word "currency" spelled as CURENCY. The two other silver pieces, including the Newman coin just sold, have the proper CURRENCY spelling. In addition, the two pieces in silver bearing the CURRENCY spelling also bear the inscription EG FECIT on the obverse below the central sundial device. The phrase translates from Latin to English as “EG made it.” Newman’s research confirms Elisha Gallaudet as the engraver of the dies. Gallaudet also designed a series of paper Continental Currency.

Newman purchased the coin in the early 1940s from the estate of Col. E.H.R. Green. The last time the coin appeared at auction was in Henry Chapman’s June 1912 sale of the George Earle Collection.

Primarily struck in pewter, Continental Currency dollars are also known in brass in addition to silver.

According to the Heritage auction lot description, researchers conclude that “it is probable that the coins were intended to take the place of the dollar-denominated paper currency issued by the Continental Congress in the latter part of 1776.”

Complete details on the 1776 Continental CURENCY, EG FECIT dollar can be found on the Heritage website.

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