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    The Unique 1796 Washington Dollar, VG Details
    Struck Over Mexican 8 Reales
    Baker-33, Plated in Snowden, 1861

    1796 MEDAL Washington "Dollar," Baker-33, Unique, Silver -- Damaged, Holed -- NGC Details. VG. 361.1 grains, 39.0 x 39.2 mm, specific gravity 10.4. Believed unique, this dollar-sized piece is struck over a Spanish 8 reales, likely from the Mexico City Mint. When James Ross Snowden published The Medallic Memorials of Washington in the Mint of the United States in 1861, he illustrated this piece on Plate XI. The Snowden plate shows the hole in exactly the same position, proving that this is the same piece. A little over a quarter century later, W.S. Baker described the piece in Medallic Portraits of Washington as his number 33. Baker noted that H. Drumheller of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania was the owner of the piece in 1861, and that it was on loan to the Mint. Henry Drumheller was a merchant in North Mannheim, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania in 1860. He was born in Pennsylvania about 1813.

    Although dated 1796, the obverse is virtually identical to the 1792 Washington President pieces by Peter Getz, using the same device punch for the uniformed George Washington, and the reverse is from the identical die that Getz used for his 1792 Washington pieces. The specific gravity of 10.4 approximates .950 fine silver. We believe that the obverse and reverse of the pillar dollar were planed down before this example was struck, although traces of undertype are still visible, especially at CA of AMERICA. The ornamental squares and circles edge is still clearly visible around most of the circumference. The obverse and reverse have borders of rays that were hand punched after this piece was struck. The scalloped circle on the obverse, also hand punched, marks the edge of the die.

    When this piece was holed is, of course, unknown. It may have been Peter Getz himself that placed the hole in this piece, perhaps for use as a fob or other decorative purpose. One cataloger suggested that the hole may have been placed for suspension on occasion of Washington's 1799 funeral procession. All we know for sure is that the piece was holed prior to its 1861 appearance in Snowden's book. The obverse shows considerable wear through the perimeter lettering, while retaining considerable detail on Washington's bust. Many of the fine scratches on the obverse are likely file marks remaining from the surface planing prior to striking. Others occurred later, and the same is true of the reverse. The central reverse is bulged as on the latest striking of the 1792 Getz copper and silver pieces. Attractive ivory and pewter-gray surfaces exhibit delicate champagne toning.

    George Fuld and Eric P. Newman studied this piece at length in 1961, and they came to the conclusion that it is a medal, calling it a "development piece" that Getz used during the production of 1797 Masonic medals that also featured the likeness of George Washington. For their detailed report, see "Rediscovery of the 1796 Washington President Piece" in the April 1961 issue of The Colonial Newsletter.
    Ex: Henry Drumheller (Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, circa 1861); later, Louis Karp (St. Louis, Missouri, circa 1960); 1962 ANA (James Kelly, 8/1962), lot 1976; Kagin's (1975); Bowers and Merena (9/1989), lot 31; Jack Collins Sale (Stack's, 4/1996), lot 41.
    From The Palos Verdes Collection, Part I.

    View all of [The Palos Verdes Collection, Part II ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2016
    10th-14th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 24
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,371

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