I cannot afford the $100,000-$150,000 likely sales price of a pewter Continental dollar that will be offered June 19 in a Spink USA sale in New York City.
But I do enjoy looking at it every time it and others come up at auction.
If you want a coin with the iconic date of 1776, the year of America’s Declaration of Independence, this is it.
But what I particularly enjoy is the “Mind Your Business” motto under the sundial on the obverse.
When I was a kid, I thought it was an invitation for people to butt out of their affairs...that is, those of the 13 colonies.
I thought perhaps it was aimed at King George III and his government in Great Britain who were taxing Americans without representation.
It always made me laugh.
I later learned that the motto more appropriately was a aphorism of the kind made famous by Benjamin Franklin.
It was more an exhortation to everyone from businessmen to farmers to stay focused on what they were doing and prosper accordingly.
This definition means more as good advice, but it falls kind of flat when you are looking for interesting tidbits of history as I was when I first encountered it.
Spink USA’s lot description takes up the question as to whether the pewter piece is a coin or a pattern.
Was it intended to circulate?
Spink USA comes down in favor of this theory, citing the fact that other pieces show wear.
This particular piece is graded MS-63 by the Professional Coin Grading Service.
I cannot offer any original research on this question.
Perhaps some Revolutionaries did indeed accept some of these pieces as dollars in the early days of the war.
Since they knew the difference between silver and pewter, I assume anyone accepting such a piece in payment was making a patriotic gesture.
Besides, there weren’t too many pewter examples made.
They would not have upset the colonial economy in any way, unlike the inflationary Continental Currency paper money.
It is described in the catalog as “1776 pewter Continental Dollar. Newman 3-D, Breen-1095, W-8460, Low R.4. PCGS MS63. ‘EG FECIT’ on the obverse. ‘CURRENCY.’ Large ‘N’ in ‘AMERICAN’ on the reverse. Sundial / Thirteen states on linked chains.”
Whether you can afford to buy it or not, take a look at it.
However, the correct image is actually the auction lot listed prior.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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