The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Weight: 17.240 g
Coins and Medals
Tin pattern for a silver dollar
Issued by the American Continental
United States of America, AD 1776
A new coin for the American Congress
This is a pattern coin (a design for a new coin) issued by the newly independent United States of America. The symbols of the interlinked rings, each bearing the name of a state, and the sun shining on the sun-dial, refer to the ambitions for independence from Great Britain and the longing for unity in the colonies represented by the American Continental Congress. The legend reads: 'American Congress, we are one'.
In the 1760s, new taxes imposed on the British colonies in North America fuelled the resentment felt by the colonial residents towards the British Government, and led eventually to a call for independence from the Crown. Although many still saw themselves as British, legal and constitutional independence became inseperable from economic separation. The American Continental Congress was established in 1774 to provide a unified voice for the colonies.
The American Wars of Independence were fought from 1775 to 1783, the freedom of the thirteen United States being declared on 4 July 1776 (Independence Day). Before independence the currencies in circulation in North America had come from Europe, including mainly Spanish, but also British coins. By including symbols on its prototype coins that referred to its status as an independent and free country, the Continental Congress was declaring its self-determination and aims for the future.
Q.D. Bowers, The history of United States c (Los Angeles: Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, 1979)