Web site visitor Andrea Grimason has been doing Internet research on the 1776 continental dollars and developing theories about their creation. She has many questions and theories and I offered to put some of them to E-Sylum readers for discussion.
Andrea passed along these segments from the University of Norte Dame site as a starting point.
The denomination of the coin is unknown, but Newman has surmised the value to be a dollar.
However who authorized or minted the coins is unknown.
Interestingly, there are no records of this coin in the actions of the Continental Congress, although other coinage concerns were recorded.
To date there is no evidence the Continental Currency coins were authorized or issued by the Continental Congress. Indeed, Robert Morris, the Superintendant of Finance during the Confederation period, appears not to have known of the Continental Dollars as he called his 1783 Nova Constellation patterns the first that were, "struck as an American Coin." (Morris, Diary for April 2, 1783).
Newman has identified 'EG' as Elisha Gallaudet, who had previously engraved the design on the plates of the February 17, 1776, Continental fractional currency. His coins were struck in three metals the most common being pewter, with an estimated minting of about six thousand (of which a few hundred survive);
The location of the mint is unknown but is thought to have been New York City. Articles referring to a Continental copper coin are found in the New York Journal of June 27, 1776, and the New York Gazette of July 1, 1776.
On this coin see: Breen, 110-112; Hodder, Michael. "The Continental Currency Coinage of 1776," pp. 7-18 in The American Numismatic Association Centennial Anthology, Wolfeboro, NH: Bowers and Merena, 1991, pp. 7-18; and Newman, Eric. "The 1776 Continental Currency Coinage," The Coin Collector's Journal, July-August (1952) 1-9.
With no official records found to date, and no clear evidence of exactly who struck these coins (and where and when), a number of theories have been put forth over the years. One of the first studies was Eric Newman's and the last really detailed study was Michael Hodder's in 1991. Or have I missed something? Has any new evidence or analysis been done since 1991? Does the community still feel that Elisha Gallaudet is the most likely maker? What is the earliest recorded instance of one of these coins being in the hands of a collector? Were any collected by Sophie Banks (and now in the British Museum)? Were the pewter examples in existence as early as 1776?
Andrea seems to be questioning whether the coins were actually made in 1776 by Elisha Gallaudet. What do readers think?