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  • Washington Liberty and Security Series Examples

    Washington Liberty and Security Series: Introduction

    The Liberty and Security design was created at the foundry of Peter Kempson and Son of Birmingham, England in the hopes of obtaining a contract from the United States government to provide coinage. A quantity of his penny size coppers were exported to America where they were put into circulation. However, the United States government never considered offering a contract. Apparently Kempson did not realize Washington had rejected Hancock's 1791 Eagle Cents and Getz's 1792 pattern because he felt it was too monarchical for a coin to carry his portrait. Furthermore, the United States mint had been established in 1792 and there was no consideration given to contracting coinage to a foreign firm.

    There are two basic types in this series. The first, designed by the diecutter Thomas Wyon is an undated copper penny size (33mm) token minted by Peter Kempson and Son of Birmingham. The obverse of this coin bears a military bust of Washington facing left with the legend "GEORGE WASHINGTON ." The reverse depicts a shield with fifteen lines to the left and a field of fifteen stars to the right. Above is an eagle with spread wings holding arrows in the right talon and an olive branch in the left. Above is the legend "LIBERTY AND SECURITY". One very rare variety has a plain edge while the common variety has the legend "AN ASYLUM FOR THE OPPRESS'D OF ALL NATIONS ::" This undated coin was mentioned in print by Samuel Birchall in 1796. It clearly dates to at least 1795 and may be earlier. Usually it is assigned as (1795) which should be taken as minted by 1795 rather than during that year. It is certainly considered to have been produced before the dated 1795 "halfpenny." A few mules exist as listed in Breen, including one variety with a very large portrait of Washington facing right without any legend on the obverse (Baker 23E), of which only two examples are known.

    The second type in the series is considered to be a later imitation of the Kempson copper. It was designed by three diecutters named Arnold, Dixon and Mainwaring and minted by William Lutwyche in Birmingham. This coin is somewhat smaller (29mm) than the undated "penny" sized copper and is frequently referred to as a "halfpenny." The obverse of this copper token includes the legend "GEORGE WASHINGTON" and adapted the right facing bust of Washington found on Kempson's 1795 "Grate" halfpeny token (made for the Clark and Harris Company of London, merchants of fire grates and stoves). The reverse copied the Kempson coin described above, except there was a longer olive branch in the eagle's talon and most significantly, the date 1795 was added under the shield. This token comes in four varieties: with an edge legend reading either, "PAYABLE AT LONDON LIVERPOOL OR BRISTOL" or "BIRMINGHAM REDRUTH & SWANSEA" or "AN ASYLUM FOR THE OPPRESS'D OF ALL NATIONS" as well as with a plain edge. The plain edge variety was struck on slightly smaller planchets and therefore weigh less that the other varieties. There are also two mules using the 1795 "LIBERTY AND SECURITY" reverse - a 1795 Irish halfpenny depicting Hope leaning on a anchor on the obverse, and a token issued by Matthew Denton of London with the winged personification of Fame blowing a trumpet on the obverse. Both are illustrated in Rulau's revision of Baker (Baker 31M and 31P). Finally, there is a very rare larger version (33mm) of the "halfpenny" token usually referred to as a "penny", of which about eight examples exist with the "ASYLUM" edge (Baker 32), and one example with a plain edge (Baker 32A).


    On this series see: Breen, pp.141-143; Russell Rulau and George Fuld, Medallic Portraits of Washington,   Iola, WI: Krause, 1985, pp. 33-34. (this is a revision of W.S. Baker's 1885 catalog)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. 202-207. The earliest citation to the undated "penny" is in Samuel Birchall, An Alphabetical List of Provincial Copper - Coins or Tokens, issued between the years 1786 and 1796,  Leeds: Thomas Gill, 1796, p. 4, number 24.

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    Section Contents Washington Liberty and Security Series Examples

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