COLLECTION: Numismatics

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Washington "Manly Medal"

1790
Origin: America, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Diameter: 48 mm
White metal
Gift of the Lasser family.
Acc. No. 2003-22,42
Label:Over the past two hundred and thirty years, medals depicting Washington have been produced to commemorate everything about the man, from his virtues and accomplishments to his death and subsequent anniversaries.

While not bearing the most flattering image of the great man, this was the first American-produced medal to depict Washington. Believed to have been based on Joseph Wright's tiny etched portrait published the same year, it was designed by Philadelphia goldsmith Joseph Brooks and struck by Jacques Manly of the same city. Contemporary newspaper ads list "fine white metal" examples like this one for $1, with brass ones at $2 and silver ones at $4.

Though he never wrote about the Manly medal, it likely made him uneasy. Washington was uncomfortable with the appearance of his image on coins and medals, regardless of the quality of the likeness.

Colonial Williamsburg is proud to own one of the few surviving copies of Wright's portrait of George Washington (accession number 2010-17).