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Rare 1792 Washington Getz Pattern Cent
XF45, Baker-25, Breen-1352

1792 1C Washington Getz Pattern Cent, Small Eagle, XF45 PCGS. Baker-25, Breen-1352. Copper. Medal turn. The U.S. Constitution was enacted in 1788, and the first Congress under the new Constitution was assembled in 1789. President Washington supported a Federal mint, but progress was delayed until Oct. 25, 1791, when, per Breen, "Washington reminded the legislators that it was now up to them to enact laws implementing their earlier resolution to found a federal mint." Senator Robert Morris introduced a bill on Dec. 21 that would place the portrait of the current President on U.S. coinage. Patterns to that effect were made by Peter Getz of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who Breen states was "hired" by Morris.
For design inspiration, Getz turned to John Gregory Hancock's Baker-16 1791 Small Eagle cent, which in an ironical twist was originally struck as a pattern to secure a Federal coinage contract. Getz omitted any indication of denomination, and only one pair of Small Eagle dies were used, but large diameter silver pieces that show the denticles are traditionally called half dollars. Pieces struck on copper flans with a slightly smaller diameter omit the dentils, and are considered cent patterns. It is believed that the patterns were actually struck in Harper's coachhouse on 6th Street in Philadelphia. This historic structure housed the U.S. Mint's machinery in 1792 before the nearby First Philadelphia Mint building was occupied. Harper's cellar was the location for the striking of the famous 1792 half dismes. The efforts of Getz were in vain, since Washington regarded Presidential portraits on coins to be monarchial. Only one sitting President has appeared on a U.S. coin: the unheralded Calvin Coolidge, on the 1926 Sesquicentennial half.
This mahogany-brown example is evenly struck aside from minor weakness on the left (facing) wingtip and the center of the shield. The obverse has a few thin marks concealed by the patina, and a planchet flaw is noted between the hair ribbon and the second E in PRESIDENT. Wear is generally limited to Washington's jaw and epaulet. All Getz patterns are very rare, and are highly coveted for their link to the first Federal coinages. Listed on page 78 of the 2009 Guide Book. Population: 1 in 45, 2 finer (6/08). (NGC ID# 2B7B, PCGS# 921)

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Auction Dates
Jul-Aug, 2008
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