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  • Washington Double Head Cent

    The Washington Double Head Cent Token: Introduction

    This is one of four interrelated Washington tokens of which three bear the date 1783 and two have the designation of "ONE CENT". This token, the Double Head Washington Cent, has no date but the bust bears a close resemblance to the one used on the Washington Military Bust token. In fact, the main difference between the bust on the Double Head token and the larger bust variety of the Military Bust token is that on the Military Bust token Washington has a button on his collar whereas on the Double Head token Washington wears a similar military uniform but with a plain collar. The Military Bust token was designed by Thomas Wells Ingram and was struck at Bolton's Soho Mint in Birmingham, England between 1820 and 1848, with the 30's or 40's appearing more likely as the token was still in circulation at mid century. Also, the bust is closely based on that of Lord Wellington, as is discussed in the introduction to the Military Bust Token. For a more complete discussion on the dating and location of the interrelated Washington tokens see theintroduction to the Washington Draped Bust tokens.

    Little is known about the Double Head token. It is usually considered to be an imitation of the military bust by an unidentified Birmingham mint. The Garret sales catalog (vol. 4, p. 18) states that "no example has been observed in strictly Uncirculated grade with original mint color." Clearly the present example has seen circulation. Both sides show a laurel wreathed Washington facing left in a military uniform with an elongated eight pointed star below. The obverse legend reads "WASHINGTON" while the reverse states "ONE CENT".

    My appreciation to Den Curtis, ANA Member R-1127697, who informed me of the relationship between the Washington and the Wellington busts, first discussed in the second edition of Rulau and Fuld, Medallic Portraits of Washington.


    See the revision of W.S. Baker's 1885 catalog by Russell Rulau and George Fuld, Medallic Portraits of Washington,  Second edition, Iola, WI: Krause, 1999, p. 36, item 6; Breen, 137; George Fuld, "The Origin of the Washington 1783 Cents," The Numismatist,  vol. 77 (November 1964) 1475-81; a preliminary version was summarized in The Colonial Newsletter  5 (June 1964, serial no. 12), 53-58; Robert Vlack, "The Washington Coppers of 1783"The Colonial Newsletter  17 (July 1978, serial no. 52), 635-52, especially 651 on the Double Head cent and George Fuld, "Coinage Featuring George Washington,"in Coinage of the Confederation Period,  ed. by Philip L. Mossman, Coinage of the Americas Conference, Proceedings No. 11, held at the American Numismatic Society, October 28, 1995, New York: American Numismatic Society, 1996, pp. 165-259 on pp. 216-218 and 237-238.

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    Section Contents Washington Double Head Token

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