• Section Contents
  • Washington REPUB. AMERI. Tokens

    Washington REPUB. AMERI. Tokens 1796, 1800: Introduction

    In 1796 the firm of Peter Kempson and Son of Birmingham, England assigned their diecutter Thomas Wyon to design a bronze token commemorating George Washington's service on the occasion of his leaving the office of president of the United States. As this token is the size and weight of a penny (33 mm at 300-315 grains) it is sometimes considered to be a coin rather than a token. The obverse displays a civilian bust right portrait of Washington with the legend "GEORGE WASHINGTON" and below the date 1796. At the truncation of the arm (that is, at the cut off edge portion) is the signature WYON. The reverse of this token has a small central display based on ancient Roman iconography surrounded by three concentric lines of text. The central image shows a crossed canon and a fasces bundle, representing military and governmental power. Fasces is a symbol from the Roman Republic representing the authority of the consul who had the power of punishment - represented by an ax inside a bundle of rods (the ax for capital punishment by beheading and the rods for lesser punishment by beating). In front of the crossed canon and fasces is the Roman caduceus, a herald's staff, with a scroll that reads "REPUB. AMERI." Surrounding this in three concentric lines is the legend: "+ GENL. OF THE AMERICAN ARMIES RESIGND. THE COMMD. 1783: / ELECD. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES 1789 + / RESIGNED THE PRESIDENCY 1796 +" A few of these token were minted in white metal. There is also a bronze piece that is possibly unique with a lettered edge in which the start of the legend is obscured "[?] IN LONDON LIVERPOOL & ANGLESEY".

    An undated later version of this piece was issued by Kempson in 1800 as a funeral token. Both the obverse and reverse of this bronze penny size token are the same as described above except that on the obverse the date has been replaced with "BORN FEB. 11. 1732. DIED DC. 21. 1799." As with the previous example a few specimens were minted in white metal. There is also at least one example in copper overstruck on the 1797 English Cartwheel penny.


    On this series see: Breen, pp. 143-144; Russell Rulau and George Fuld, Medallic Portraits of Washington,  Iola, WI: Krause, 1985, p. 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. 214-216.

    ^ ->
    Section Contents Washington REPUB. AMERI. Tokens

    For viewing tips and information on optimal computer settings click here.
    For our copyright statement click here.

    For questions or comments contact Special Collections by:
    , telephone: (574) 631-0290, or mail:
    Department of Special Collections, 102 Hesburgh Library,
    University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556