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    1792 Washington Roman Head, PR40
    Baker-19, GW-21, About 20 Pieces Known

    1792 Washington Roman Head Cent, Baker-19, Breen-1249, W-10840, Musante GW-21, R.6, PR40 NGC. The dies for the iconic Roman Head cent Washington pieces were cut by John Gregory Hancock and struck at Obediah Westwood's mint in Birmingham, England. Hancock is perhaps best known for his 1791 Washington pattern cents.

    There are differing interpretations of this important and popular variety. Q. David Bowers observes portraying Washington in the style of a Roman official was done to honor him. In the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins, Bowers writes:

    "The Roman Head cent depicts Washington dressed in the style of a Roman official, a popular way of honoring him, at least in memory, but these are dated during his life. The apotheosis of Washington saw many forms, most famously in Horatio Greenough's statue of epic proportions showing Washington as a Roman emperor seated on a throne. For years this was displayed on the U.S. Capitol grounds. There are many versions of similar tributes in the classic style to be found on bank note vignettes."

    Bowers continues that the Roman appearance was typically done as a memorial. Alternatively, Breen called these pieces "Hancock's Revenge" in response to Washington's rejection of their earlier coinage:

    "As Washington's spokesmen had compared the idea of presidential portraits on coins to the practices of Nero, Caligula, and Cromwell, so Hancock's (and/or Westwood's) idea was to portray Washington on a coin as a degenerate, effeminate Roman emperor. Hancock's satirical masterpieces, the 'Roman Head' cents manage to convey this impression--with a subtle resemblance. ... Beginning as tokens of incredible spite, these cents have become among the most highly coveted of Washington items."

    However colorful, Breen's conclusions are entirely speculative, and there is no way of knowing what the intent was in using the imperial imagery.
    The Whitman Colonial Encyclopedia describes the Roman Head cents as having been "made for cabinet purposes, with none intended for circulation," though this PR40 and at least one other example in PR08 exhibit wear. About 20 pieces are believed extant. Deep brown surfaces are smooth with minimal porosity, just a few scattered abrasions and a brush of high-point rub. Well-centered and with strong devices. Listed on page 85 of the 2021 Guide Book.
    Ex: Donald G. Partrick.

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 731)

    View all of [The Donald G. Partrick Collection ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2021
    22nd-25th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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