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Lot 3031

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 3031
Date 1792
Side obverse
Grade 40
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 708
Denomination CENT
Description 1792 CENT Washington President Cent, Eagle and Stars Reverse. T Below Bust. Lettered Edge. XF40 NGC. CAC. Baker-21B, Breen-1228, 1995 COAC WA.1792.5, W-10685, Unique. 175.4 grains, 99% copper per NGC metallurgical tests. There are two major types of the Washington President cents distinguished by their reverses, featuring either an eagle and 13 stars or the General of the American Armies. Many subscribe to the traditional viewpoint that these pieces are closely related to the 1791 Large Eagle and Small Eagle cents; they are typically attributed to the same engraver, John Gregory Hancock, Jr. Described as a child prodigy, Hancock was employed by Obadiah Westwood's private mint in Birmingham, England. George Fuld explains in his 1995 ANS Coinage of the America's Conference article "Coinage Featuring George Washington:" {blockquote}"Although no direct evidence exists as to the origin of this series, die punch linkage and style directly link the 1792 British issues to J.G. Hancock and Westwood's Mint. Clearly they must have been manufactured between the time of the 1792 cents and before knowledge of rejection of monarchical portraits by Congress [March 1792]. Breen conjectures that for the eagle reverse with no denomination, the strikings in copper, silver and gold represented cent, half dollar and ten dollar samples, while Newman believes the gold and silver specimens were too different from any circulating coin to be usable."{/blockquote} However, evidence suggests that these pieces and the related Washington Born Virginia coppers were made on the American shore, specifically at the oceanside town of Newburyport, Massachusetts. In "Perkins and the Washington Medal," published in the August 2010 issue of The Numismatist, John J. Kraljevich, Jr. presents compelling evidence that a talented young American engraver, Jacob Perkins, was the author of these 1792 Washington pieces. A 22-year-old Perkins worked alongside Joseph Callender at the Massachusetts mint that coined half cents and cents in 1788. His experience there provided the basis for his engraving career, and his interest in government employment. A few years later, he engraved dies and produced these 1792 Washington pieces, sending one anonymously to President Washington via his friend and teacher, Nicolas Pike. The existence of an obverse die for the Washington Born Virginia cents in the Perkins estate, with correspondence between Pike and Washington, leaves little doubt for the true authorship of these coins. Pike wrote to Washington transmitting an example of Perkins' work, as quoted by Kraljevich: {blockquote} "I have the honor to request your Acceptance of a Medal struck in my presence by an ingenious & reputable Gentleman, who also made the Die, which branch he can execute with great facility & dispatch, & which he will warrant to stand until defaced by usage. "He at present, declines having his name made public; but should this Specimen of Ingenuity entitle him to the Notice of Congress, he would be happy, on suitable Terms, to serve the Public in this line."{/blockquote} Like Peter Getz, Jacob Perkins copied the 1791 Hancock cents. The Getz patterns were copied from the Small Eagle cents, and the Perkins patterns were copied from the Large Eagle cents, substituting 13 stars for the denomination, ONE CENT, at the top of the reverse. There is no doubt that the 1791-dated Hancock cents were aimed at the acquisition of an overseas contract for American coinage. The 1792 Getz and Perkins pieces were intended for a different purpose, that of obtaining an engraving position at a soon to be established United States Mint. Kraljevich explains: {blockquote}"Perhaps now Perkins can get full credit for the WASHINGTON BORN VIRGINIA and 1792 WASHINGTON PRESIDENT issues, and stand alongside Peter Getz as the only Americans bold enough to step forward and place themselves at the head of the line for employment at the newly founded U.S. Mint."{/blockquote} This unique variant has splendid walnut-brown surfaces with minuscule marks suggesting careful preservation over the course of many years. Both sides have traces of light blue toning in the protected areas of the design. Here is an exceptional example of a truly important issue that is possibly a pattern issue of a fledgling nation. Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. Realized $117500.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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