US Coins

1776 Continental CURENCY dollar not genuine

Readers Ask column from March 14, 2016, Weekly issue of Coin World:

I clean out houses and found this 1776-dated coin and wanted to know what it was. Is it real or fake? Is it worth anything?

Krisha Sharpes  /  via email

Unfortunately, it is not genuine. What you found is a crude replica of a 1776 Continental Currency dollar bearing on the obverse the variant with the intended word “CURRENCY” misspelled “CURENCY.”

Your piece has no collector value. Had it been a genuine coin struck in pewter or silver, it would have considerable collector and investment value, the exact value depending on composition and condition.

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For example, a 1776 Continental, CURENCY dollar in pewter graded Mint State 64 by Professional Coin Grading Service sold in an April 30, 2009, Heritage Auctions sale for $195,500.

A Numismatic Guaranty Corp. graded Extremely Fine 40 example in silver brought $1,527,500 in a Jan. 8, 2015, Heritage Auctions session.

Spelling variations abound. Genuine varieties have “currency” spelled  as CURRENCY or CURRENCEY in inscriptions on the coins.

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The giveaway that the piece you discovered is not a genuine coin is the existence of the seam on the edge.

The seam is evidence of where metal seeped out between where the obverse and reverse die molds came together during the production process.

Many replicas exist of early American and U.S. coins, some struck, but also some that are cast. Cast pieces are often produced using a mixture of a number of inexpensive metals to fabricate the finished product.

As explained by numismatist and author Eric P. Newman in The 1776 Continental Currency Coinage, the Continental Currency coinage “was officially sanctioned to become a replacement for one dollar paper currency of the Continental Congress about July 1776.”

Newman concludes that whether or not the Continental Currency coinage was intended to be struck in pewter or silver, it was in the pattern stage and “is the first coin of our independent national government.”

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