Baldwin's of St. James's   |   Auction 27   |   13 January 2019 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 308





Estimate: 40'000 USD   |   Starting price: 32'000 USD ---
World Coins, USA, United American Colonies, Continental dollar, 1776, struck in ‘pewter’, legend CONTINENTAL CURRENCY and date at bottom surround a sundial rebus at centre, shared with the legends FUGIO and MIND YOUR BUSINESS, unsigned engraver, rev. central legend WE ARE ONE in three lines and circular AMERICAN CONGRESS surrounded by a ‘glory’ of rays and 13 conjoined oval links, each bearing the name of one of the original colonies, dotted borders (Newman 2C; Breen 1092), certified and graded by PCGS as About Uncirculated 58, medium grey surfaces with some areas of darker patina, overall a balanced and original appearance
A new discovery piece from the United Kingdom
In his Encyclopedia published in 1988, Walter Breen stressed that the so-called pewter dollars are in fact tin as they contain almost no lead, a component of pewter. All tested examples have been found to be composed of varying amounts of lead and trace elements, and some are clearly made of pewter. The collecting fraternity traditionally continues to label the most plentiful version of this famous early American coin as being made of pewter. The present example is of the variety that omits the initials of the man who is believed to have engraved and struck these pieces in the late summer of 1776, Elisha Gallaudet of Freehold, New Jersey; their place of origin has never been definitively established, but it was probably either Philadelphia or Freehold if not at the New York Mint. That is the traditional view. The most recent research has suggested that these pieces were actually made in England (or even on the continent) shortly after the conclusion of the war and were intended to be mementoes; illustrations of the coins appeared in periodicals in Europe in the early 1780s. In short, there is no definite proof of where or when they came to be, but they were clearly known during the 1780s. Paul Revere and Sarah Banks of London (famous collector and sister of Sir Joseph Banks) both believed the coins were made in Europe as mementoes or souvenirs, but both knew of their existence. Elements of the design had appeared on various fractional Continental notes, sketches for which were made by Benjamin Franklin. David Rittenhouse of Philadelphia is believed to have contributed to the final design. These men were founders of the republic, which in itself is a compelling reason to wish to own a sample of this coinage. In the traditional view, these were all patterns for an intended coinage in silver as backing for the fiat paper circulating in the colonies, specifically to pay for war materiel during the late 1770s. France, the colonies’ ally in the coming war for independence from Britain, was to have supplied the silver bullion, but none was ever obtained and as a consequence all that remains of this intended first silver dollar of early America is a relative handful of these patterns, known in various metals but mainly in so-called pewter.

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