The 1792 Washington President 1 copper and silver coins are attributed to the hand of Lancaster, Pennsylvania engraver Peter Getz. Working with a large number of contributors, the late George Fuld published The Washington Pattern Coinage of Peter Getz, a history and census of this issue in 2009.
Pennsylvanian Robert Morris, who was born in Liverpool, England in 1734, served as the United States Superintendent of Finance from 1781 to 1784, and later as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania from 1789 to 1795. Fuld relates that it was in that capacity that Morris served on a committee to consider establishment of a Mint. He introduced a bill on December 21, 1791 that provided:
“That, upon said coins, respectfully, there shall be the following devices and legends, namely: Upon one side of each of the said coins there shall be an impression or representation of the head of the President of the United States for the time being, with an inscription of 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 representation of an eagle, with the 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.”
The Getz pieces were produced in silver and copper, with the latter offered as a part of our current Long Beach Signature Auction. Both compositions follow the Morris recommendation for gold and silver coins. The obverse features President Washington in profile facing left, with the inscription G. WASHINGTON. PRESIDENT. 1., and the date, 1792, below. The reverse has an eagle with a shield covering its breast, its wings raised with 15 stars between the wings. The eagle clutches an olive branch and six arrows. Around, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The Getz patterns exist in silver with a plain edge, circles and squares edge, or twinned olive leaves edge. The majority of silver pieces show undertype from various other coins. Copper examples are known with a plain edge or circle and squares edge. The plain edge pieces, such as this one, are the most frequently encountered, although only about 35 pieces are known. This piece, graded MS61 by PCGS, has pleasing tan and chocolate-brown surfaces with minor rim bruises that confirm a storied provenance dating back to 1882.