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Image of Copper Pattern Dollar, 1794
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Materials: Copper
Measurement: Dia. 40.0 mm; Wt. 23.683 g
Note: Judd 19, Breen 5360, unique

Copper Pattern Dollar, 1794

Once a new national government had been established under a new Constitution, attention naturally turned to ways of proclaiming national identity. A new, national coinage was one way of doing so, especially if it featured patriotic new images, rather than the endless sequence of crowned monarchs and coats of arms adorning the coinage of Old Europe.

A U. S Mint Act was passed in 1792, and work was quickly underway. Designs were chosen — a depiction of Liberty for obverses, an eagle, or the value within a wreath, for reverses. The first of the new coins, copper cents and half cents, appeared early the following year. By 1794, mint designers were working to create a silver dollar, the flagship of the new denominations. But they first made a trial piece, in copper.

Robert Scot created the dies for this design, a Liberty head with flowing hair for the dollar’s obverse; an eagle within a simple wreath for the reverse. The new dies to be used in producing silver dollars were tested with a striking in copper. Copper would take a good impression, and would allow Scot and his associates to see whether the dies were cut deeply enough and would therefore be capable of producing the detail wanted on the final silver product.

Only one piece, this coin, was struck in copper, and it is a unique national treasure.
Related Events
1789: The United States Constitution is adopted, creating a strong federal government.
1792: The U.S. Mint is established in Philadelphia, with David Rittenhouse as its first director.
1793: George Washington begins his second term as President of the United States.
1794: The Whiskey Rebellion breaks out in Pennsylvania over excise taxes on liquor.
1799: George Washington dies at his home, Mount Vernon.
Legendary Firsts The following objects are in this section.
Massachusetts Pine Tree Shilling, "1652" (struck 1667-1674)First United States Silver Dollar, 1794Great Britain, Sovereign, 1838
Massachusetts, "twenty shillings," 1690Brasher Doubloon, 1787United States, 5 Dollars, 1838
Pewter Continental Dollar, 1776United States, 20 Dollars, 1854United States, 10 Dollars, 1838
Copper Pattern Dollar, 1794Portrait Medal of James Smithson, 1817 
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