US Coins

1776 Continental coin real?

The 1776 Continental Currency dollar has been widely reproduced in modern times. Shown is a genuine example, graded Mint State 67 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., that sold for $546,250 in a Jan. 4, 2012, Heritage auction.

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Could you help me find out if the 1776 Continental Currency dollar coin I have is real? It does not have the word COPY. I’ve had it since at least the early 1970s.

Dorothy Scott

Address withheld

While Coin World does not authenticate coins or other numismatic items, it can offer some information that will help steer Ms. Scott, and other collectors with similar questions, in the right direction.

Because the 1776 Continental Currency dollar is a historical coin, it has been widely reproduced for sale as a souvenir. Legally struck pieces are marked with the incuse word COPY, to distinguish them as replicas in accordance with the Hobby Protection Act of 1973.

Some replica pieces minted prior to the Hobby Protection Act, but lacking the word COPY or other features distinguishing them as replicas, still exist. It is possible that Ms. Scott’s piece is one of these.

As well, some 1776 Continental Currency dollars are considered “restrikes,” such as those produced in 1876 to celebrate America’s Centennial.

In addition to being restruck and replicated as a souvenir, the 1776 Continental Currency dollar has also been copied to swindle modern-day collectors. Because a genuine example is rare and easily sells for many thousands of dollars when offered at auction or by private sale, it makes a desirable target for counterfeiters. Collectors should stick to reliable sellers and certified examples if buying one of these coins.

In order to know with certainty if it is genuine, Scott would need to have her piece examined and authenticated by a reputable expert in Colonial coins, such as one employed by a third-party grading service.

Authentication requires time and cost, though, so Scott and other collectors in the same situation should first take steps to educate themselves.

The logical first step is to acquire and read numismatic works that cover the subject in depth.

The most recent book covering this topic is the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins, by Q. David Bowers, which features full-color pictures and detailed descriptions of the coins.

Collectors may also wish to acquire a copy of Eric P. Newman’s booklet 1776 Continental Currency Coinage & Varieties of the Fugio Cent.

Scott could also compare her piece to images of known genuine examples found online at numismatic auction websites, such as the Heritage Auctions piece illustrated above.

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 or call 800-673-8311, Ext. 274.

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