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    Description

    1792 Washington Getz Half Dollar, VF Details
    Narrow Silver Flan, Small Eagle, Plain Edge

    1792 Washington Getz Pattern Half Dollar, Small Eagle, Silver, Baker-24, Breen-1347, W-10780, Musante GW-22 (A), R.7--Obverse Repaired--NGC Details. VF. Plain edge, narrow flan. 232.6 grains. A legendary issue among the large and wide-ranging series of Washington pieces produced by engraver Peter Getz in early 1792 in an effort to secure a private minting contract for the proposed U.S. coinage. The present example is listed as Number 13 in George Fuld's The Washington Pattern Coinage of Peter Getz, which includes entries for 22 confirmed pieces. It is a mid-level coin with uniform wear on bold sides. The obverse features a complete and attractive portrait of Washington and a full date. The peripheral legends, while clearly readable, are less distinct, particularly toward the tops of the letters. Some very old and lightly scratched lettering in the left obverse field has been skillfully removed. While this example was struck on a narrow flan, denticles can be seen on the lower half of this side. The reverse is slightly bolder in appearance, dominated by the wide-spread eagle, whose wing tips touch the outer edge. The legends are more firmly struck than on the obverse, and are fully legible. Some light surface marks can be seen on this side, including a few within the U of UNITED.

    The production of the Getz pattern pieces remains shrouded in mystery despite 175 years' worth of efforts by numismatists to illuminate it. In 1843, the Pittsburg Morning Chronicle published a letter by Jonas R. McClintock, the Chief Refiner of the Philadelphia Mint, on the subject of the various Washington coins. This letter was later reprinted, accompanied by an introduction by John A. McAllister, Jr., in the October 1857 issue of the Historical Magazine. In this letter, the copper 1792 Getz pieces are discussed, though the name Getz is never used. McClintock states that prior to the passage of the Mint Act of April 1792, "artists were engaged, with the knowledge of the proper authorities, in devising models and sinking dies" for the planned coinage. He continues:

    "It was under this partial supervision, and antecedent to the completion of the mint, that Mr. Jno. Harper, (an extensive manufacturer of saws,) then located on the corner of Sixth and Cherry sts., caused dies to be engraved under the direction of Mr. Robt. Birch ... and which were it is believed, executed, by a German artist in his employment, with the exception of the lettering, which in all probability was done by himself."



    McClintock credited his information to Adam Eckfeldt, Chief Coiner of the Philadelphia Mint from 1814 to 1839 and a longtime personal friend. These coins have been identified as Getz's work since Montroville Dickeson's 1859 American Numismatical Manual. Getz struck examples in both copper and silver from his dies).

    Peter Getz hailed from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he likely learned the silversmithing and engraving trades at the hands of his brother John. He is mentioned in William Barton's 1813 biography of Mint Director David Rittenhouse as being "a self taught mechanic of singular ingenuity" who was at one point "a candidate for the place of chief coiner or engraver in the mint." Senator Robert Morris had introduced a coinage bill in December 1791 calling for a design with the president's portrait, name, and a numerical indication of his succession. Don Taxay, in The U.S. Mint and Coinage, states that Morris was concurrently having dies prepared for the coinage using this proposed design, the results of which we see before us. Listed on page 84 of the 2021 Guide Book.
    Ex: George M. Kline, "Vicksburg Collection" (W. Elliott Woodward, 5/1888), lot 1165; James Ten Eyck (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922), lot 838; John J. Ford, Jr.; F.S. Werner; Donald G. Partrick.

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 925)


    View all of [The Donald G. Partrick Collection ]

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2021
    22nd-25th Thursday-Sunday
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