These enigmatic pieces, colloquially known as Continental dollars, have long been conjectured to have been legal tender—possibly experimental or pattern pieces; possibly substitutes for a paper dollar in the Second Continental Congress's system of Continental Currency. If they were indeed money, the exact nature of their monetary role is undocumented. Other theories suggest they were commemorative medals, possibly struck years after 1776, and perhaps made in Europe. Studies suggest there may have been two separate emissions made at different mints.
The motifs and mottos are evocative of Benjamin Franklin's designs for paper Continental Currency. One obverse die was engraved by someone whose initials were E.G. (possibly New York engraver Elisha Gallaudet) and is marked EG FECIT ("EG Made It"). Varieties are found with different spellings of the word CURRENCY, the addition of EG FECIT, and differing alloys (pewter, brass, and silver). Pewter examples with corrosion spots (often seen) are worth considerably less than those without such problems. Numerous copies and replicas have been made over the years, and authentication is recommended before any purchase.
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