Continental Currency dollar coin

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Continental Currency dollar coin
United States
Value1 Continental dollar (not specified on coin)
Mass15–19 g
Diameter≈38 mm
Thickness6 mm
Composition Pewter, brass, or silver
Years of minting1776
1776 Continental Currency dollar coin obverse.jpg
Design"Mind Your Business", Sun, and sundial, surrounded by "Continental Currency" (misspelled on some varieties) and date
Designer Benjamin Franklin
Design date1776
1776 Continental Currency dollar coin reverse.jpg
Design"We Are One", 13 state chain links
Designer Benjamin Franklin
Design date1776

The Continental Currency dollar coin (also known as Continental dollar coin, Fugio dollar, or Franklin dollar) was the first pattern coin struck for the United States. [1] [2] The coins were minted in 1776 and examples were made on pewter, brass, and silver planchets. [3]



The United States started issuing its own banknotes in 1776 after the start of the American Revolutionary War and the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence denominated in Continental Currency. While no legislation authorizing a dollar coin has been discovered, no resolutions from July 22, 1776 through September 26, 1778 mentioned the one-dollar banknote, suggesting that it was to have been replaced by a coin. [4]

Benjamin Franklin designed both sides of the coin. [2] The obverse features the Sun shining sunlight on a sundial, the Latin motto "Fugio" (I flee/fly), and "Mind your business", a rebus meaning "time flies, so mind your business". [1] The reverse features 13 chain links representing a plea for the Thirteen Colonies to remain united. [1]

Controversy over coin status

An article in the January 2018 issue of The Numismatist argued that the Continental Currency dollar coin may not have been a coin at all, but a token produced in Great Britain as a souvenir. The article cited the fact that there is no contemporary record of the pieces having been commissioned by the Continental Congress or in the anywhere in the colonies until long after the revolution. [5]


Elisha Gallaudet engraved the coin dies, according to numismatist Eric P. Newman. [6] An estimated 6,000 coins were minted, probably in New York. [7]

Today, about a hundred dollars survive, struck in pewter. [3] Historians surmise that much of the original mintage was melted due to wartime demand for the alloy. [4] Only a few silver examples are known to exist. This composition was most likely standard for circulation. However, the idea of a silver dollar might have been scrapped, as the United States had no reliable supply of silver during the war. [4] Several brass trial strikings are also known. [8]


As with other early United States coinage, the dies for the Continental dollar coin were hand-punched, meaning no two dies were the same. One of the known obverse varieties was accidentally made with "CURRENCY" misspelled "CURENCY". [3]

Another variety, known as the "Ornamented Date", was also made with a misspelled "CURRENCY", this time as "CURRENCEY". The blundered die was corrected by punching a "Y" over the "E" and an ornamental figure was engraved over the original "Y". [9]

Later use of the design

The 1787 Fugio cent, the first officially circulated coin of the United States, incorporated many elements of the design of the Continental Currency coin.

Reverse of the 2006 "Founding Father" Benjamin Franklin silver dollar 2006 Benjamin Franklin Founding Father Silver Dollar (Reverse).png
Reverse of the 2006 "Founding Father" Benjamin Franklin silver dollar

An adaption of the Continental Currency dollar coin appears on the reverse of the "Founding Father" variety of the 2006 Benjamin Franklin silver dollar. [10]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 "NMAH | Legendary Coins & Currency: Pewter Continental Dollar, 1776". Archived from the original on 2018-11-03. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
  2. 1 2 "Continental Currency - PCGS CoinFacts". PCGS. Archived from the original on 2019-06-16. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
  3. 1 2 3 "1776 $1 CURENCY, Pewter (Regular Strike) Proposed National Issues - PCGS CoinFacts". PCGS. Archived from the original on 2019-06-16. Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  4. 1 2 3 "1776 $1 Continental Dollar, CURRENCY, Silver, EG FECIT MS63 | Lot #30423". Heritage Auctions. Archived from the original on 2019-06-16. Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  5. "The Myth of the Continental Dollar". American Numismatic Association. Retrieved 2020-08-20.
  6. "Eric P. Newman's silver 1776 Continental Currency dollar sells for $1.41 million". CoinWorld. Archived from the original on 2019-06-24. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
  7. "The Continental "Dollar" - Introduction". Archived from the original on 2019-06-24. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
  8. "1776 $1 CURENCY, Brass (Regular Strike) Proposed National Issues - PCGS CoinFacts". PCGS. Archived from the original on 2019-06-16. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
  9. "1776 $1 Ornament after Date (Regular Strike) Proposed National Issues - PCGS CoinFacts". PCGS. Archived from the original on 2019-06-16. Retrieved 2019-06-17.
  10. "Benjamin Franklin "Founding Father" $1 Coin | U.S. Mint". Retrieved 2019-08-29.