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Obverse of 1792 Washington / Large Eagle with Stars     Reverse of 1792 Washington / Large Eagle with Stars


At first glance, the 1792 Washington / Large Eagle with Stars coins look very much like the 1791 Washington / Large Eagle Cents.  In fact, conventional wisdom asserts that both of the above-mentioned coins were engraved by the same person -- John Gregory Hancock, Sr. of Birmingham, England

The skeptical minds here at CoinFacts are not so sure.  Here's why?

Letter punches:
Breen claims the two coins share letter punches.  Do they?  We see more differences than similarities.

If Hancock engraved both coins, he sure got sloppier on the 1792 version.  His 1791 obverses (dated and undated) were much more elegant and the details much finer than on the 1792 version.  

The same goes for the reverse.  The 1791 version is extremely well done, finely detailed, and beautifully balanced.  The 1792 version suffers from an oversized head that looks like a chicken's, the arrows have crude fletches, their arrangement is nowhere near as perfect as it was on the 1791 version, and the eagle's feathers are crude and base compared to those on the 1791.  Look closely at the images we present on our site and you'll see some remarkable and obvious differences in style.

Edge lettering:
The 1791 Large and Small Eagle Cents are known with plain edges, edges letter "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," and an occasional British-related edge lettering.  No British-related edge variant exists on the 1792 coins.

Hancock's 1791 obverse dies were used in 1793 to strike the 1791 Washington / Liverpool Halfpennies and the 1793 Washington / Ship Halfpennies.  If Hancock had engraved the 1792 obverse, wouldn't it have been available for the same purpose?  On the other hand, if the die was not engraved by Hancock, it would not have been available to him in 1792 or 1793, thus explaining the lack of similar mulings.

Breen called the 1792 Washington / Large Eagle with Stars coins "Multi-Denominational Patterns" because of the lack of a stated value and the fact that they were struck in copper, gold, and silver.  Does this make them patterns or tokens?  Is the unique gold piece a presentation piece, a pattern for a $10 gold piece, or an off-metal strike made for collectors?  The answer impacts significantly how we might classify the gold 1791 Washington / Large Eagle Cent (Breen 1209) and the brass 1791 Washington / Small Eagle Cents (Breen 1220).

The Jacob Perkins connection:
At least three examples are known of a muling of the Undated "WASHINGTON BORN VIRGINIA" obverse and the Large Eagle with Stars reverse.  Breen claims the "WASHINGTON BORN VIRGINIA" was also by Hancock (because of this muling?) and that Jacob Perkins brought the obverse die to America.  The die later ended up in the hands of Albert Collis, who had transfer dies made from it, then struck uniface impressions in platinum, gold, silver, copper, and lead.  Today, the die rests in the Money Museum at the American Numismatic Association.  How did Perkins obtain the die and when?  Could he have made it?

Did Hancock engrave the 1792 Washington / Large Eagle with Stars coins or did Perkins?
Were they struck in Great Britain or America?
Were they struck as patterns, tokens, medals, or?

What do you think or know?
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Images courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.

Copper - estimated 12 known
Silver - estimated 10 known
Gold - Unique

Significant examples:
EF-40, traces of silvering (illustrated above).  Ex - Ira S. Reed, November 21, 1945 @ $125.00 - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "The Benson Collection" Sale - Part 1, February 16, 2001, Lot 119, "...lettered edge.  Baker-21...faint series of scratches forming a grid pattern in the left obverse field, and more continue above Washington's head as well as a few vertical ones in the right field.  The reverse also has a few, but they are very faint.  The scratches are old, toned over... tiny planchet defect touching the outer edge of D or PRESIDENT from the rim..."

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia Of U.S. And Colonial Coins" by Walter Breen, pp. 137-140

Notre Dame University website at:

"The U.S. Mint and Coinage" by Don Taxay