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  • Washington Unity States Cent

    Washington Unity States Cent: 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 "Unity States" cent uses a bust that is very similar to the Draped Bust token. The Draped Bust token was designed by Thomas Wells Ingram, after the work of the Philadelphia artist Edward Savage. This copper token 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. For a more complete discussion on the dating and location of these tokens see the introduction to the Washington Draped Bust tokens .

    Like the others in this interrelated group the "Unity States" copper cent was probably produced in Birmingham, England. "Unity States" cents were made using striated planchets, often filed down at the rim to make them rough. This filing helped to both obscure the legends and to give the newly minted coins a worn appearance. The presence of the "Unity" misspelling and the planchet filing leads one to suspect these coins were minted at a location that produced evasion issues. Evasion issues were common in England for if unauthorized minters closely copied regal coins but slightly changed the motto they could not be convicted of counterfeiting under English law, since the coins were not exact copies. The date on this coin, 1783, commemorates the end of the Revolutionary War rather than the date of minting. This is clear for the reverse of the cent copies the Draped Bust U.S. Cent of 1796-1807. The date of manufacture for the "Unity States" issue is unknown. There are no discussions if this unusual issue predates, is contemporary with or postdates the Draped Bust series. It has been suggested that a James Kean of Philadelphia was the American distributor for the "Unity States" cents.

    The obverse depicts a laurel wreathed bust left Washington in a toga (usually referred to as being "draped" or ''mantled") with the legend "WASHINGTON & INDEPENDENCE" and the date 1783. The reverse is copied from the Draped Bust U.S. Cent with the legend changed to read "UNITY STATES OF AMERICA" rather than United States of America. In the center is a wreath with "ONE CENT" and below the wreath "1/100". Vlack lists one obverse (Vlack 27) and two reverses (Vlack W and X) for this variety.


    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.34, item 1; Breen, 134-135; 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) 636-652 on p. 650; 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. 216-219; also see the description in, The Garrett Collection, Part 4,  Bowers and Ruddy, 1981, p. 17 under lot 1693.

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    Section Contents Washington Unity States Cent

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