Skip to main content
Go to accessibility options

    Description

    Very Rare and Historic 1792 Getz Copper Cent
    MS62 Brown, Only NGC-Certified Example

    1792 1C Washington Getz Pattern Cent, Small Eagle, Copper MS62 Brown NGC. Baker-25, Breen-1352. Plain edge, medal turn. 32.0 mm, 260.8 gn per its Ford catalog appearance, which places it near the upper end of the 220 to 273 gn range specified in Rulau's modern revision of Baker. Rulau estimates, "about 30 pieces known," which is High R.6 by his scale.
    Baker-25 has been variously described as a large cent or half dollar pattern. Breen called it a cent, Rulau (in Baker) calls it a half dollar. The present piece was cataloged as a half dollar by Stack's, and as a cent by ANR. NGC has designated it as a cent. Getz omitted any indication of denomination, and only one pair of Small Eagle dies were used. Breen's division of the Getz patterns by denomination was based on their diameter. Large diameter silver pieces that show the denticles were listed as half dollars, while pieces struck on copper flans with a slightly smaller diameter that omit the dentils were classified as cent patterns. Most known examples have plain edges, but a few of both the copper and silver pieces have ornamental edges. Breen has suggested that these unusual edge designs were placed on the pieces after 1792, perhaps in 1800 for Washington's funeral processions (Breen-1357).
    The Federal Constitution passed in 1787, and the first Congress under the Constitution assembled in 1788. On Oct. 25, 1791, per Breen, President Washington "reminded the legislators that it was now up to them to enact laws implementing their earlier resolution to found a federal mint." Pennsylvania Senator and financier Robert Morris introduced such a bill on December 21, 1791. The bill evolved, and was passed by the Senate with the key language "Upon one side of each of the said coins there shall be all impression or representation of the head of the President of the United States for the time being, with an inscription which shall express the initial or first letter of his Christian or first name, and his surname at length, the succession of the presidency numerically, and the year of the coinage; and upon the reverse of each of the gold and silver coins there shall be the figure or representative of an eagle, with this inscription "United States of America," and upon the reverse of each of the copper coins, there shall be an inscription which shall express the denomination of the piece, namely, cent or half cent, as the case may require."
    Thus, the copper half cent and cent were to display their value on the coin, while the silver pieces would only imply the denomination by their weight. This supports Baker's classification of all the Getz pieces as half dollar patterns.
    Per Breen, Robert Morris wanted examples of the proposed coinage to help passage of his bill, and apparently conscripted silversmith Peter Getz of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Morris was earlier responsible for the production of the extremely rare 1783 quints and marks, from a prior attempt at a national coinage. For the 1792 pieces, Getz based his design on John Gregory Hancock's Baker-16 1791 Small Eagle cent, since the devices matched the bill's specification of a head of Washington and an eagle. Baker-16 was made to secure a Federal coinage contract, and it was ironic that Getz would copy the design in his own attempt at securing Mint employment.
    All efforts by Morris and Getz were for naught, because the House of Representatives (and President Washington) opposed presidential portraits on coinage on the grounds they were too monarchial. Congress instead eventually enacted legislation on April 2, 1792, designating "an impression emblematic of liberty" as the obverse device.
    This well struck example is toned deep brown with subtle ice-blue undertones. The fields have a few faint abrasions likely present on the planchet prior to striking, aside from a single thin mark near the D in PRESIDENT.
    The present piece is the only Getz pattern certified by NGC. PCGS has certified 13 copper examples, with only one coin (an MS64) above the AU50 level. Although any Getz pattern is very rare, the appearance at auction of a Mint State example provides a major opportunity for the Washington collector. Listed on page 78 of the 2008 Guide Book.
    Ex: John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, Part II (Stack's, 5/04), lot 31; The Old West & Franklinton Collections (American Numismatic Rarities, 8/06), lot 12.
    From The Madison Collection.


    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 2B7B, PCGS# 921)


    View all of [The Madison Collection ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2008
    9th-12th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 25
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 9,777

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    15% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold on Jan 10, 2008 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item