US Coins

Pewter 1776 Continental dollar found at flea market worth $97,500

A genuine 1776 Continental dollar struck in pewter and valued at nearly $100,000 was purchased for 50 cents euro (56 cents U.S.) from a flea-market dealer’s junk box in Europe. It has been graded and encapsulated Mint State 62 by grading experts at Professional Coin Grading Service’s Paris office.

Continental dollars often found in dealers’ junk boxes or at flea markets are generally determined to be cast copies or struck reproductions, so the identification of a new genuine example of the rare U.S. Colonial coin is cause for celebration. Numerous replica pieces exist, most of which are considered to have no numismatic value.

The individual who made the numismatic discovery is from northern France, but wishes to remain anonymous. The finder disclosed to PCGS graders in Paris that he bought the coin at a flea market in June 2018.

According to what the finder told PCGS graders, the seller at the flea market “had a cookie box full of coins and medals for sale and, while the buyer was looking through it, the seller pulled out another box of coins with this coin on top. The buyer, unfamiliar with this piece, asked a price, and the seller said 50 cents [euro]. The coin was purchased, and the new owner later Googled ‘Continental Currency’ and ‘1776’ to discover what he had.

“Believing he had found a treasure, he took it to a local coin dealer for authenticity, who was unsure and suggested he send it to the United States for authentication.”

According to PCGS, the buyer conducted additional internet searches for genuine Continental dollars where he encountered listings for PCGS-graded pieces. He learned he wouldn’t have to ship his coin to the United States for professional authentication and instead could deliver the coin to PCGS’s Paris offices.

The buyer sent the coin to PCGS Paris for authentication and grading. The authenticity of the coin was confirmed as genuine and PCGS graders encapsulated the coins as Mint State 62.

PCGS Coin Facts values the coin at $97,500 in MS-62, though its actual value would have to be determined at auction or through private-treaty sale.

The coin cost the owner the equivalent of 56 cents U.S. plus PCGS grading fees.

The new discovery is a Newman-2-C, as attributed according to 1776 Continental Currency Coinage & Varieties of the Fugio Cent by Eric P. Newman.

The obverse design of Continental Currency dollars features three rings. The center design exhibits a sundial, with MIND YOUR BUSINESS in the exergue below. The sun and its rays with FUGIO [I fly] to the left appear in the second ring around the center device.

Around the outer ring of the collector’s piece is the inscription CONTINENTAL CURRENCY with the date 1776 at the 6 o’clock position.

The reverse design features 13 chain links, each individually inscribed with a name of one of the 13 Colonial states. The links encircle a central device of two rings, the outer ring with rays around and AMERICAN CONGRESS inscribed within. The central circle signifies a unified nation with the three-line inscription WE/ARE/ONE.

The 1776 Continental dollar series offers several varieties in the spelling of “currency,” ornamentation and metallic composition.

Although some examples were struck in silver, the most encountered composition is pewter.

Who produced them?

According to PCGS officials, “While the origin of these pieces is still under debate, the 1776 Continental dollars are important early coinage celebrating the birth of the brand-new nation of the United States. This iconic coin has been heavily counterfeited and many restrikes have been produced privately. Even these private restrikes have gained popularity due to the scarcity of original examples and are now being actively collected.”

Earlier numismatic research suggested the intent of the Continental dollars was as a pattern or circulation issue coinage to circulate alongside Continental Currency notes that the Continental Congress had authorized and issued.

More recent examination of their production provides fodder for their being medals, fabricated by England as satirical medals, struck in pewter to ridicule the worthless value of the currency of the fledgling United States.

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