1776 Continental Currency Commemoratives Authorized by the Smithsonian®
Benjamin Franklin’s Original Designs Plus a Big Mystery!
Important, Puzzling, Colonial Coins
Increasingly at odds with British policies in the 1760s and 1770s, American colonists drew a line in the sand with the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1776. That document severed political connections with King George III and Great Britain while serving notice that the American colonies would no longer submit to the rule of England or any outside nation.
The birth of America brought with it a need for its own money, and who better to design that money than statesman, postmaster, inventor and Renaissance man Benjamin Franklin? Paper money (“Continentals”) using designs provided by Franklin were soon issued, in the exceptionally strange denominations of $1/6, $1/3, $1/2, and $2/3. Plans to produce coins with the same designs quickly followed.
“A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma”
Though Winston Churchill was talking about Russia when he offered this assessment in 1939, his quote is appropriate for America’s Continental Currency coins which—though they were indeed struck in 1776 with designs first created by Benjamin Franklin for the paper money Continentals—are “wrapped in mystery”. You see, no mention of these coins exists in the records of the American Congress. Were they official issues of the 18th century American Congress as asserted by renowned numismatist Eric P. Newman in his book The 1776 Continental Currency Coinage: Varieties Of The Fugio Cent? Or were they struck as commemorative medals in England as was suggested in a 2018 article in The Numismatist? Even dependable resources such as the “Red Book,” the Guide Book of United States Coins, are unsure how to address the issue, calling these coins “…enigmatic pieces…,” then listing the various theories on how they came to exist.
Despite the questions, all sources agree that these Continental Dollars were struck in the late 1700s, featured designs created by Benjamin Franklin, and made their way into the hands of many of America’s early patriots (including even Paul Revere by some records). Based on the Spanish-American piece of eight, the new Continental Dollar coin was to serve as the keystone of America’s monetary system, but when the patriots were unable to obtain enough silver to mint the coinage, the plan failed.
Officially-Approved Smithsonian®-Licensed Products
In honor of this important yet mysterious part of U.S. Numismatic history, the Smithsonian has authorized the creation of a set of privately struck, non-denominated commemoratives featuring the original Benjamin Franklin-inspired designs—painstakingly created as true to the originals as possible by technicians at the Commonwealth Mint’s state-of-the-art minting facilities, using images of the original coins housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
An absolutely stunning tribute, these are the first Smithsonian-approved commemoratives of the original Continental Currency.
Iconic Designs from Nearly 250 Years Ago
Franklin’s obverse design features “CONTINENTAL CURRENCY 1776” circling the word “FUGIO”—Latin for “I flee”—surrounding a sun shining on a sundial and the inscription “MIND YOUR BUSINESS.” Historians have surmised this combination of words and images implies, “time flies, so mind your business.” At the time, “business” was understood literally as commerce, particularly in the context of currency—but it has been postulated that Franklin intended a second meaning as well, “be responsible for yourself, and don’t needlessly meddle in others’ affairs.”
The reverse design features thirteen interlocking rings surrounding the words “WE ARE ONE.” Engraved with the names of the original 13 colonies, this links-in-a-chain design was interpreted as Franklin’s plea for unity. The government later changed these words to the “E Pluribus Unum” we use today. The reverse design features thirteen interlocking rings surrounding the words “WE ARE ONE.” Engraved with the names of the original 13 colonies, this links-in-a-chain design was interpreted as Franklin’s plea for unity. The government later changed these words to the “E Pluribus Unum” we use today.
The Challenge Posed by Modern Technology
Striking coins with the same look and feel as pieces originally struck nearly 250 years ago using modern machinery presents a challenge. Where modern coinage incorporates a thick, raised rim, the original 1776-dated Continental Currency pieces carry only delicate, decorative beading. To replicate this, the Commonwealth Mint needed to create new tooling, and use a precise amount of pressure with each strike.
This lack of a raised rim leaves these pieces especially open to blemishes during manufacturing, which made creating pieces with the highest grades—like the commemoratives in this offer—not only extremely difficult but virtually impossible for coins struck centuries ago. Despite these challenges, the Commonwealth Mint technicians managed to capture the appearance of the original 1776 Continental Currency pieces, while maintaining the highest quality by employing very careful handling and specialized packaging.
Gorgeous Antiqued Finish
In order to commemorate the history of these designs while at the same time adding aesthetic contrast, the Commonwealth Mint employed an antiqued finish for this program—providing an aged, satin effect that enhances the elements of the design. The results are truly amazing pieces of craftsmanship!
Struck in 99.9% Silver and 99.99% Gold
These 1776 Continental Currency Commemoratives are available singly struck in two ounces of 99.9% fine silver, or as a two-piece set consisting of the two-ounce silver piece plus a piece struck in one ounce of high-purity 99.99% pure gold.
Certified Perfect with Special Pedigrees
Collectors seek out the best quality. Coins and medals are graded on a 70-point scale, with a top 70 grade representing perfection, even under magnification. You can secure these Colonial Currency Commemoratives certified by NGC as flawless Mint State-70 (MS70) condition.
In addition to being flawless, your Commemoratives will arrive NGC-certified with a First Day of Issue pedigree.
Exclusive Smithsonian Labels
Each commemorative will be slabbed by NGC with an exclusive Smithsonian label, featuring the iconic Smithsonian sunburst logo.
Extremely Limited Availability
Just 699 two-ounce silver Commemoratives have been authorized, along with only 115 one-ounce gold commemoratives.
1776 Colonial Currency One-Ounce Gold Commemorative MS70 FDI
1776 Colonial Currency Two-Ounce Silver Commemorative MS70 FDI
These Smithsonian-authorized and licensed commemoratives are truly stunning! But unless you’re satisfied just looking at pictures instead of the actual pieces in your collection, you need to act quickly. This is your chance to secure these spectacular, limited commemoratives—boasting fascinating, original Ben Franklin Continental Currency designs—in perfect condition, with a sought-after FDI pedigree. Hurry! Our supply will not last. Secure yours by calling 888-870-6342 right this minute!