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  • Washington Draped Bust Tokens
  • Washington Draped Bust Die Charts

    Washington Draped Bust Tokens: Introduction

    This is one of four interrelated Washington tokens of which three bear the date 1783. Two of the four, namely the Draped Bust and the Military Bust tokens, were produced by the same person for they both bear the initials T.W.I and E.S.. The other two tokens are by different individuals of which one, the "Unity States" cent copies the obverse of the Draped Bust token (both the bust and the legend) while the other, the undated Double Headed cent imitates the Military Bust portrait on both sides. As all four bear the portrait of Washington and three include the date 1783 these items have been collected as part of the American colonial series.

    In 1964 George Fuld published an illuminating study of these tokens. He discussed several reasons proving the coins were produced after 1783. Most obviously was the fact that some were designated as "one cent." This term was not used until 1786 when it appeared in Congressional discussions led by Robert Morris and Thomas Jefferson on the adoption of a decimal system. Indeed, the first decimal coins were not minted until 1792! Beyond this Fuld observed several similarities between these tokens and Nineteenth Century products. For example, the Military Bust token has a corded edge but this edge did not appear on tokens until ca. 1812-1815; similarly the border denticle pattern found on both the Draped and Military Bust tokens was first used in 1799 and did not become popular until ca, 1815. Fuld also noticed similarities between the Washington busts and the numerous Wellington tokens of ca. 1815. Additionally, he discovered a Draped Bust variety overstruck on an English token from Cumberland with "I. WALKER" on the obverse and "FLIMBY PARK COLLIERY" on the reverse. This undertype had to have been produced sometime between 1802-1823 when John Walker worked that particular coal mine. Based on these and related observations Fuld suggested the 1783 date on these different Washington tokens commemorated the official ending the Revolutionary War with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in that year but it did not reflect their date of manufacture.

    Fuld then suggested the tokens had been produced ca. 1815-1820 and looked for a diemaker during that era who could be identified with the mysterious initials T.W.I. or E.S, which are found on the Draped and Military Bust tokens. He came up with Thomas Wells Ingram an engraver and die sinker at the Soho mint in Birmingham from 1820 until the plant closed in 1848. Ingram seems to have survived until 1865. Fuld suggested the E.S. referred to Edward Savage an artist who had drawn profile portraits of Washington in both military and civilian dress. From Fuld's ground breaking work we now suspect the Military and Draped Bust Washington token were produced sometime after 1815 by Thomas Wells Ingram.

    One of the current questions is how long after 1815 were the tokens produced? Fuld considered the die cutting on the two signed Washington tokens to be "not superior" and therefore assumed they were among Ingram's first works, thus he assigned the token to 1815-1820. This assessment is clearly subjective and is based on the idea that all these token are original products (Breen supposes all TWI initialed coins are imitations by another mint!). If we assume Ingram is the die maker and we know he did not start working for a coining mint until 1820 it would seem more probable to assign the tokens to a somewhat later period. In 1978 Vlack stated this series of 1783 Washington tokens, "were manufactured in England sometime during the mid-1800's, possibly as early as 1820."

    Interestingly, Breen states the Military Bust token was listed as current in Thompson's Coin Chart Manual   for 1848, published annually in New York and Fuld had noted the Draped Bust token was listed as current in Thomas Lord, Supplement to the Cincinnati Detector and Bank Note Reporter,  Cincinnati: Thomas Lord, 1853, p. 24. Thus, we can be certain both tokens circulated in America and were produced before 1853. We do know the Soho mint closed in 1848. Soon thereafter the London coin dealer W. J. Taylor purchased several of the old Soho hubs and dies, included among them were the obverse and reverse hubs used to produce dies for the Draped Bust Washington tokens, which Taylor used to produce restrikes including a Melbourne token dated 1851. Thus, for both the Draped Bust and the Military Bust varieties, we can narrow the time period to between 1820 and 1848, with the 30's or 40's appearing more likely as both tokens were still in circulation at mid century.

    The obverse of the Draped or Mantled Washington bust token depicts a laurel wreathed Washington facing left in a toga with the legend "WASHINGTON AND INDEPENDENCE" and the date 1783, commemorating the end of the Revolutionary War. The reverse similar to the Military Bust token with a female figure seated on a rock surrounded by water. In her extended right hand she holds an olive branch and in her left she holds a staff with a liberty cap on top. On this reverse the pole rests at the figure's forearm, it leans more than on the Military Bust reverse where the pole rests on the figure's shoulder. This figure was first used as Britannia on Soho company coinage of 1797. However in the present context with the liberty cap and the legend above her which reads "UNITED STATES" I suspect she is meant to represent Liberty. On some varieties the initials T.W.I. and E.S are found in exergue on the reverse. They stand for the engraver Thomas Wells Ingram who modeled his work on a Washington portrait by the Philadelphia painter Edward Savage.

    The Draped Bust comes in two basic varieties: with a button at the intersections of the toga folds and another variety without a button. According to Vlack the toga button variety is found with four obverses and four reverses in five combinations, while the variety without a button is found with five obverses and three reverses in five combinations (excluding the Melbourne token). The variety without a button does not have the initials on the reverse. Of these five combinations Breen suggests only Vlack varieties 13-J (example below) and 15-K are original as both have an initial I for Ingram between the toga folds just above the 3 in the date (Vlack also includes 14-J as an original). The other combinations are considered to be restrikes by Taylor. As to the variety with the toga button, which includes the initials in exergue, Breen suggests without additional comment that all of these five combinations were contemporary imitations made at some location other than the Soho mint while Vlack accepts them as originals. Clearly, more clarification is need on this variety.

    As mentioned above, when the Soho mint closed in 1848 the London coin dealer William Joseph Taylor acquired several of their hubs and dies, including the hubs for the obverse and reverse of the Washington Draped Bust copper. He used these hubs to made new dies and struck several Draped Bust tokens during 1850-1860. Breen suggests the plain edge restrikes are from ca. 1850 and the ornamented edge restrikes are from ca. 1860. Taylor also combined the Draped Bust reverse with a Kangaroo obverse bearing the legend "MELBOURNE" and in exergue his 1851 dated advertisement. This unusual product was made for sale at the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition.

    Washington Draped Bust Die Charts

    The following charts created by Robert Vlack in 1961 were produced from negatives in The Colonial Newsletter Foundation Photofiles and were provided by Jim Spilman.

    Variation designations are by Robert Vlack consisting of obverse numbers and reverse letters. The charts are presented as clickable 125 dpi jpg images. For fast downloading the upper and lower portions of each chart are also offered seperately. The individual obverse and reverse varieties are also presented as 500 dpi images.

    Click here for the Washington Draped Bust varieties

    Individual obverse and reverse varieties at 500 dpi:
    Obverses - Obverse 1 ; Obverse 2 ; Obverse 3 ; Obverse 4 ; Obverse 5
    Reverses - Reverse A ; Reverse B ; Reverse C

    Click here for the Washington Draped Bust, Button on Toga varieties.

    Individual obverse and reverse varieties at 500 dpi:
    Obverses - Obverse 1 ; Obverse 2 ; Obverse 3
    Reverses - Reverse A ; Reverse B ; Reverse C


    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, pp. 34-36, items 2-3 and 5; Breen, 135-137; 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 644-49 on the Draped Bust varieties 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 for introduction, pp. 219-225 for no button varieties and pp. 233-237 for varieties with a button.

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    Section Contents Washington Draped Bust Tokens

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