The Unique 1792 Washington President Gold Eagle
To be Auctioned Without Reserve on August 16, 2018 at the Philadelphia ANA World's Fair of Money
Items being sold are from the extensive collection of Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (a Missouri not-for-profit corporation) and have been assembled over a period of 90 years. Proceeds of the sale of all items will be used exclusively for supplementing the Society's scholarly research efforts and for the benefit of other not-for-profit institutions selected by Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society for public purposes.
Eric P. Newman's Favorite Coin
From a collection numbering many thousands of coins assembled over a period of nine decades, one coin stood head and shoulders above all others for Eric P. Newman: the 1792 Washington President $10 gold eagle pattern. Eric Newman (1911-2017) was the nation's foremost American numismatic researcher and author. His books and articles explored numerous and wide-ranging topics, but Colonial coinage and currency were his principal numismatic interests.
How could anyone with such a vast collection, and such a long history of numismatic scholarship, point to a single specimen and call it his favorite coin? For Eric, it was obvious, for no other numismatic artifact of early America connects presentday collectors and historians to our country's most foundational statesman more closely than the unique 1792 Washington President $10 gold eagle pattern. Eric acquired the Washington piece from the famed "Colonel" E.H.R. Green Collection in 1942. This piece, now graded Extremely Fine 45★ by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, displays glowing original greenish-gold surfaces that show the gentle wear consistent with a pocket piece that has seen no actual circulation.
Washington's Pocket Piece
Eric's research suggests that this coin was struck expressly for, given to, and carried by President George Washington. The provenance is singular in its importance, shedding light on why Eric P. Newman held this prized possession in such high regard.
Eric discusses this coin in an article that he wrote for Coin World which appeared in the January 29, 1975, issue:
"This coin is unique in that it was owned by George Washington. It is unique as the earliest gold pattern prepared for the United States coinage; and it is unique because only one example of the coin was made. What other American coin can command historical and numismatic respect of that magnitude?" Further elaborating on the coin's stature, he adds:
"This gold coin was first publicized in 1855 and has never been challenged with respect to being 'one of a kind' or being the first gold pattern for a proposed U.S. coin ... To prove its ownership by George Washington requires a review of circumstantial evidence, and it is up to the reader to evaluate how convincing that proof may be." To comprehend why Washington would have received this gold piece, an understanding of contemporary coinage proposal presentation practices is necessary, and after his explanation of these customs, Eric writes:
"It would be logical to conclude that if Washington was to receive the customary specimen of a proposed coinage, he would have been given the gold one rather than one of a less important metal."
When Eric wrote his Coin World article forty years ago, evidence pointed to a British origin for Washington's pocket piece, and new information has only recently come to light.