1792 Washington Gold Eagle Realizes $1.74 Million in Heritage Philadelphia Sale


A one-of-a-kind 1792 gold coin believed by its previous owner to have once been a cherished memento of U.S. President George Washington sold for $1,740,000 Thursday, Aug. 16, in Philadelphia by Heritage Auctions.

1792 Washington President Gold Eagle,a
1792 Washington President Gold Eagle

This is the first time the 1792 $10 Washington President gold eagle pattern coin appeared at public auction since 1890; 100 percent of the net proceeds will benefit charitable causes.

It also holds the historic distinction as the earliest gold pattern coin submitted for consideration as a United States coin. "Numismatic researchers widely agree it is one of the most important coins in American history," said Jim Halperin, Co-Founder of Heritage Auctions.

Since 1792, the coin has been owned by just eight elite numismatists, who traded it privately for 128 years. Prominent collector and author Eric P. Newman acquired the coin in 1942, and it has not changed hands since.

Newman, a numismatic scholar, died in 2017 at the age of 106 and is credited for creating one of the nation’s most significant coin collections. Since 2013, more than 19,000 lots from Newman’s collection have sold for over $72.9 million at auctions conducted by Heritage, with all net proceeds benefiting various charities.

Despite his vast collection, Newman considered the 1792 Washington gold eagle, graded NGC XF 45★, his favorite coin of all for a special reason. Newman believed the Washington gold eagle was not produced because legend stated it defied the president’s own edict that his likeness not appear on any U.S. currency to avoid appearing as a monarch to the new democracy.

"To my father, George Washington was a personal heroes," son Andy Newman said. "He considered Washington’s refusal that our country’s first coinage depict his own image on it to be an emblematic example of Washington’s profound humility and willingness to put country before self."

Heritage Auctions (HA.com) is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. In addition to its headquarters in Dallas, Heritage has offices in New York, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago and Palm Beach, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

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The article linked here is interesting, because there were a lot of Washington tokens issued in Britain around this time (see “The Red Book” for a whole section). Whether it was an actual pattern from the US Mint may be debatable, but it certainly is an interesting piece. Washington apparently did refuse to be on the coinage–no actual person appeared until the commemorative Columbian half of 1892–so who knows?