The Continental Dollars selections in Newman Part V auction just concluded by Heritage in NYC build upon those previously offered in Part IV of the collection. In Newman IV the 1776 Silver “EG FECIT” Continental dollar graded NGC MS 63 realized just over $1.4 million. Amazingly, Newman Part V includes six more outstanding 1776 Continental Dollars from the scholar’s collection, five of which are in Mint State grades and all of which fell into the TOP 10 prices realized for the sale.
This magnificent group includes two varieties of brass “CURENCY” Continental dollars, graded NGC AU 50 and NGC MS 62, and four varieties of pewter Continental Dollars. The pewter pieces are topped by the stunning 1776 “EG FECIT” piece in NGC MS 66. The three other pewter pieces are: the “CURENCY” variety in NGC MS 62, the “CURRENCEY” variety in NGC MS 63, and the “CURRENCY” variety in NGC MS 64.
Below are brief descriptions of each in order of the Prices Realized”
#2) 1776 $1 Continental Dollar, CURENCY, Brass MS62 NGC. CAC
Low R.7. 225.8 grains, 75% copper, 22% tin, 1% lead per NGC metallurgical tests. Following the limited production of the Newman 1-A pieces, the reverse die was modified with the dotted rings connected to form solid rings, although remnants of the previous dots are still visible. Eric P. Newman wrote: “Reverse B shows lines cut over the dots, but dots still remain exposed in many places.” The reverse has an advanced die defect in the Pennsylvania ring, proving that it is the same die as Reverse A. The modifications are sufficient that Newman assigned a different letter, although this variety is technically a die state of 1-A.
The production of Newman 1-B pieces in brass was considerably greater than that of the 1-A. However, the coinage was still extremely limited, and only a dozen examples are known today. Michael Hodder recorded eight examples in the 1988 Norweb catalog, and increased his estimate to “about 10 to 12 known” in the 2003 Ford catalog. Q. David Bowers rated this variety URS-4 (five to eight known) in the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins.
#3) 1776 $1 Continental Dollar, CURRENCEY, Pewter MS63 NGC. CAC. Plain Edge.
Lot # 3041 Sold for $381,875
High R.7. 285.4 grains, 89% tin, 7% lead, 2% antimony per NGC metallurgical tests. Plated in the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins. The obverse has a smaller date than is found on the other obverse dies, first engraved 7776 with the die modified so that the first digit would resemble a 1.
The Select Mint State Eric P. Newman coin is the finest of just four examples of the variety known, and the only one that survives in Mint State. Considerable white luster appears on both sides of this Select Mint State piece, with delicate grayish-gold toning. The reverse die crack connecting several rings is less advanced than on the 3-D above. However, other examples of 3-D are known in an earlier die state. Die alignment is 210 degrees, the reverse rotated to 7 o’clock.
After a small number of pieces were struck, the obverse die was modified to correct the spelling error. First, a Y was punched over the second E in CURRENCEY. Next, a floral design was placed over the final letter. The result was Newman 5-D, also an extremely rare variety with only three documented examples. An example of the latter variety that we offered in our July-August 2009 Los Angeles sale has the reverse in a slightly later die state that is nearly identical. Die state evidence shows a Reverse D emission sequence of Newman 3-D, 4-D, 5-D, and a remarriage of 3-D.
Attempting an actual census of this variety poses challenges. We know of the present MS63 NGC example from the Waldo Newcomer and “Colonel” Green Collections, and an XF example that appeared in the Roper and Ford sales. Michael Hodder wrote in the Ford catalog that four examples are known, including the Newman coin that he mistakenly stated was ex Boyd. In addition to the Ford coin, he continued to state that two others are owned privately. Since Hodder described the Ford coin as “The Finest Available to Collectors” on the then logical assumption that the Newman coin would never be available, we assume that the other two privately held pieces are in lower grades than the XF Ford coin. Therefore, this piece from the Eric P. Newman Collection is by far the finest example known.
#5) 1776 $1 Continental Dollar, E.G. FECIT, Pewter MS66 NGC. CAC
R.4. 273.0 grains, 90% tin, 5% lead, 3% antimony per NGC metallurgical tests. The obverse and reverse are both plated in Eric P. Newman’s 1952 study on the Continental Dollars. A stunning E.G. FECIT dollar with virtually full brilliance. The obverse is perfect with a die crack connecting most of the rings on the reverse. The die alignment is 45 degrees.
The trail for the identity of E.G. began with Ephraim Getz as suggested in the June 1909 issue of The Numismatist. The article “First Silver Dollar for the United States” in that publication includes a quote from Edgar H. Adams:
“There are but two specimens [in silver] of this Continental dollar known to have been struck from this die, with the name of the engraver, E.G. Fecit. Who ‘E.G.’ was is a matter of speculation. Someone has stated that the initials stand for Ephraim Getz, but what authority there is for this statement is not known.”
A little over four decades later in his 1952 study, Newman discounted the suggestion of Ephraim Getz, and suggested that E.G. might have been Elbridge Gerry, a member of the Continental Congress from Massachusetts. Although Gerry was not an engraver or die-sinker, he was a member of the five-man committee appointed to superintend the treasury. Newman wisely noted that his attribution was merely a possibility. He wrote that “Elbridge Gerry’s intimate association with treasury matters might therefore make him the E.G.”
Seven years later, Newman compiled a documented article, “The Continental Dollar of 1776 Meets its Maker,” that was published in the August 1959 issue of The Numismatist, and reprinted in our May 2014 catalog, part IV of the Eric P. Newman Collection. Newman wrote:
“There is no doubt that all of the varieties of the coinage were made by the same diemaker, and it is fortunate that the initials EG were placed on one variety (3-C).
“There was no other avenue of research than to begin by looking for a qualified person with those initials. It was a pleasant surprise, therefore, to find that in 1776 there lived an American engraver by the name of Elisha Gallaudet. Merely naming him without supporting data would satisfy no one even though no other qualified person with the initials E.G. could be found. Thus, research to prove or disprove the theory was undertaken.”
Gallaudet was named in New York legislation dated 1770 as an engraver of colonial notes. Newman provided considerable additional documentation to support his identification of Elisha Gallaudet as the E.G. of the Continental dollars. He concluded with 12 detailed points of the identification that appear indisputable.
#6) 1776 $1 Continental Dollar, CURENCY, Dotted Rings, Brass AU50 NGC
Lot # 3036 Sold for $282,000
R.8. Ex: “Col.” E.H.R. Green. 250.8 grains, 79% copper, 18% zinc, 1% lead per NGC metallurgical tests. The remaining 2% is likely attributed to rounding, or to trace elements, or perhaps both. The Dotted Rings variety was the first produced Continental dollar, coined before the die was modified to partially connect the dots, as seen in the next lot. A small die defect inside the Pennsylvania ring is evident on this variety, and is advanced on the next example.
This piece from the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society features an attractive blend of pale yellow, orange, and mahogany, with minor verdigris on each side. The surfaces are generally pleasing with no edge bruises or other defects. This variety is extremely rare, despite a comment in the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins that 12 to 15 examples are known. Q. David Bowers attributed that erroneous estimate to Michael Hodder. This variety was absent from most of the important colonial collections of recent times. There was not a single one in Garrett, Roper, Taylor, or even Ford. That absence clearly confirms the extreme rarity of this variety, and is not commensurate with a High R.6 variety.
The true population is likely three examples as reported in the March 1988 Norweb catalog, where the three examples were identified as the Norweb coin, an example in the Newman Collection (this piece), and one that appeared in the Brand Collection, Part II. In his Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, Walter Breen overlooked the Norweb coin that was sold the same year as his reference was published, stating that only two were known.
#9) 1776 $1 Continental Dollar, CURRENCY, Pewter MS64 NGC. CAC.
R.3. 248.4 grains, 91% tin, 5% lead, 2% antimony per NGC metallurgical tests. The obverse of this piece is plated in Eric P. Newman’s 1952 reference on the Continental dollars. This is the second obverse die of the Continental dollars, with the CURRENCY spelling, combined with the third modification of the first reverse die.
In his 1952 study, Newman recorded obverse dies 1 and 2, and reverse dies A, B, and C for the first group of Continental dollars. Obverse dies 1 and 2 are clearly different, while reverses A, B, and C are significant modifications of a single physical die. Newman variety 1-A is only known in brass, 1-B is known in brass and pewter, 1-C is known in pewter and silver, and 2-C is known in pewter.
The second group of Continental dollars consists of varieties 3-D, 4-D, and 5-D. Obverse 4 and 5 are significant modifications of a single die. Newman 3-D is known in pewter and silver, while 4-D and 5-D are known only in pewter.
The collector who seeks a single Continental dollar may choose pewter examples of 1-C, 2-C, or 3-D as the usual varieties encountered. Other collectors might seek single examples in each of the three compositions, pewter, brass, and silver. Others may wish to include examples of 1-B, 1-C, 2-C, 3-D, and either 4-D or 5-D to provide a comprehensive collection. The collector who seeks a long-term or lifetime challenge may want to attempt a complete collection of all the different varieties, ignoring composition changes. The collection of seven different varieties has never been completed, to the best of our knowledge, even though six of the seven varieties are offered in the present sale!
This outstanding Continental dollar has brilliant surfaces, mostly white, with light grayish-gold toning. A few scattered marks are inconsequential. This piece has 330 degree die alignment with the top of the reverse at 11 o’clock in relation to the top of the obverse.
Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. (PCGS# 794)
Note: Coin Descriptions from the Heritage Catalog