Michael Garofalo published the first installment of a multipart article for Greysheet on coppers depicting George Washington. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online.
Washington 1783 Draped Bust Copper
IN THE LATTER PART OF THE 18th CENTURY, George Washington was a Colossus in Americans' minds. This wealthy farmer from Virginia was a surveyor, fought admirably in the French and Indian Wars, and when the newly-formed nation looked for a leader, Washington went willingly to the forefront. The British army and navy were vastly superior, perceived as the best in the world at that time, yet Washington inspired farmers and tradesmen to leave their plows in the fields and their workshops unattended and defend the idea of an American nation based on liberty.
His accomplishments were legendary. After forcing the surrender of one the Great Britain's greatest generals, Lord Charles Cornwallis, in August of 1781 in Yorktown, Virginia, effectively ending the American Revolutionary War, to being named President of the First Constitutional Convention, he was a man of mythic proportions.
The Coinage Act of 1792, establishing a United States Mint, positions for coin minters and even for American coinage itself was still a decade away when both coin designers, minters and other entrepreneurs began to create ‘coins' for use in the American nation of colonies. The strong central government was still some time away, but the need for an American coinage was great. Coins from many foreign countries circulated in America at that time as there was no substitute.
Entrepreneurs began to strike copper medals and ‘coins' as some even bore denominations on them, in hopes of their designs catching the eye of the new government officials and perhaps becoming coinage. Some of these pieces bore Washington's likeness, which he publicly frowned upon. Washington didn't want America's coins to remind people of Britain's coins, bearing a portrait of the king. Washington wanted allegorical representations of Liberty to grace our coinage.
Nevertheless, a number of copper pieces bearing portraits of George Washington were struck and they all were intended to honor the legend of George Washington. Many of these ‘coins' circulated as coinage, as evidenced by the large number of them that display over two centuries worth of healthy wear. Whether they were struck as potential coinage for America, as a tribute to Washington, or as part of the British series of Conder Tokens, portraying personages and historical events, they form a unique collection of historical Americana.
We will examine not only the history of these coins but how assembling a collection of them is such a worthwhile task for those of us who love American history.
Washington 1783 Unity States Cent
To read the complete article, see:
The Copper Coinage of Our First President, Part I
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