Coin, Continental Currency "Dollar"

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  • Die Cutter: Elisha Gallaudet
  • America, New York, New York City area
  • 1776
  • Brass
  • Gift of the Lasser family
  • 2004-8,39

When the Revolution began, the monetary system was just one of a many crises the Continental Congress had to deal with. Each colony's paper money was usually worthless outside of its borders. An attempt at a universal American currency came in the spring of 1775 with the first issue of Continental notes. Rapid depreciation of the money during the Revolution led to the expression, "not worth a Continental," a phrase still used to describe something considered less than worthless.

By authority of the Continental Congress, these dollar coins or tokens coins were struck early in 1776 in or near New York City. Designed by Benjamin Franklin, some of the dies are believed to have been cut by Elisha Gallaudet, a local engraver. The obverse design of the sun shining on a sundial plus the associated legends is taken to mean "time flies, so work hard." The reverse design of the endless chain of thirteen links has become an iconic metaphor for the "13 Colonies" and the Revolutionary War era.

Breen #1087, Newman 1-B

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