COLLECTION: Numismatics

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Washington "Small Eagle" Cent

Origin: England, Birmingham
Diameter: 30 mm
Gift of the Lasser family
Acc. No. 2003-22,9
Label:Traditionally, a newly formed nation produces its own money as a proclamation of sovereignty. Since there was a lag of ten years between the end of the Revolution and the opening of the first United States Mint, there was an opportunity for private "for profit" coin producers on both sides of the Atlantic. One way to ensure the success and profitability of a coinage for the new republic was to put George Washington on it.

Washington in uniform appeared on a number of coins struck in Birmingham, England, by privately owned mints. Amongst a sea of other contenders, this attractive piece was exported to America in hopes of winning a lucrative contract to produce coins for the United States. Though this coin was unsuccessful in winning a contract, it did circulate extensively here.