Featured The rare and controversial Washington Success Token

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by non_cents, Nov 21, 2016.

  1. non_cents

    non_cents The Frisco Kid

    Hi all, it's been a while since I've posted around here. College has been my primary focus these past 3 years, so much of my collecting has been on-hold. That being said, I was able to acquire an exceedingly rare numismatic item recently, the Washington Success Token (small size). Honestly, not much is known about this coin. On the front it depicts a portrait of George Washington along with his name, and on the reverse it depicts the all-seeing eye, surrounded by the phrase "Success to the United States".

    Numismatic historians disagree on the origin if this coin. Some say it was made to celebrate the 2nd inauguration of George Washington and was produced sometime in the mid 1790s. Others believe the item to be a gambling token from the late 1800s. From my (nowhere near professional) research on the item, I believe the former theory is more accurate, and for a few reasons.

    1) The all-seeing eye motif was present on other US colonial coins around this time, such as the Nova Constellatio and Vermont "Stella Quarta Decima" copper pieces, which were produced in the mid to late 1780s. (Photos from https://www.whitman.com/RedBook/images/strike/300/300-Nova_1783_SmUS_W1865_o.jpg, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/ab/Stella14.jpg/250px-Stella14.jpg)
    300-Nova_1783_SmUS_W1865_o.jpg 250px-Stella14.jpg
    2) The reverse depicts 15 stars, likely to represent 15 states. At the time of George Washington's 2nd inauguration in 1793, 15 states were officially part of the Union (the 15th, Kentucky, was admitted in 1792).

    3) The coin is listed in the book "Coins, Medals, and Seals, Ancient and Modern" which was published in 1861. This puts into question that the coin is a "late 1800s" gambling token, though maybe it is still a gambling token but was minted in the early or mid 1800s. Book source: https://books.google.com/books?id=730LAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA247&lpg=PA247&dq=washington success medal small&source=bl&ots=gQsexybVWG&sig=orCCPd0-I25l-kj4f3X7sP7bQ78&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjNrp6PubHQAhUH9mMKHWdADZk4ChDoAQgyMAY#v=onepage&q&f=false)

    4) A metal detectorist, whose location is listed as Southern Connecticut, recovered a Large Size Washington Success Token on a dig. If the coin were minted in mid 1800s, I would suspect a few to be recovered in more western states as well. Obviously this isn't a particularly strong point, but it is interesting that the one I've seen recovered from the ground was found in an area that was DEFINITELY occupied as a state during the year where it is hypothesized to have been produced. (Thread found here: http://www.americandetectorist.com/...finds-to-date-George-Washington-Success-Token!)

    5) According to the Notre Dame webpage on the coin, Michael Hodder states this about the coin: "The dating of these has recently been questioned. We note that in the McCoy sale (1864), the piece in lot 2360 was said to have been made for Washington's Second Inaugural and was "long known in Mr. Colburn's Collection." This suggests to the present cataloguer that the traditional dating of the Success Tokens, 1792-1795, is probably fairly accurate." (http://www.coins.nd.edu/ColCoin/ColCoinIntros/WashSUCCESS.intro.html)

    So information about it certainly exists, though it rarely goes beyond physical description of the coin. Still, I find the prospect of it being from the 1790s exceptionally cool, and it is a very intriguing and coveted piece regardless of its origin. I'd grade it high F to low VF, based on wear and light oxidation.
    washington success 2.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
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  3. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Supporter! Supporter

    Well...I can't see your token. The photo is too dark. Sorry. I am pleased to see you posting here again.
  4. non_cents

    non_cents The Frisco Kid

    weird, it shows up for me. I will try to repost it.

    Edit: brightened photo a little bit and reuploaded
    Jwt708 likes this.
  5. swish513

    swish513 Penny & Cent Collector

    The Official Red Book Guide of United States Tokens and Medals by Kathering Jaeger has the note, "not an inaugural medal per se, but celebrating Washington's presidency."
    non_cents likes this.
  6. non_cents

    non_cents The Frisco Kid

    Great info. Seems that almost every source differs in key facts, haha.
  7. non_cents

    non_cents The Frisco Kid

    If anyone has other sources or info on this coin, please don't hesitate to share!
  8. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Supporter! Supporter

    I love stuff on the exonumia side of things. Much like ancients, rarities are the norm and there is always more to discover. I think it's a cool medal!
    non_cents likes this.
  9. swish513

    swish513 Penny & Cent Collector

    To add, it says the token/medal was minted circa 1793.
    non_cents likes this.
  10. non_cents

    non_cents The Frisco Kid

    Very interesting! So its not an inaugural medal even though his 2nd inauguration was that year? (According to the Red Book)
  11. swish513

    swish513 Penny & Cent Collector

    According to one source, it is a medalet (P. 196 of the Red Book Guide). I'm not saying it's right, I'm just stating what one resource says it is. It seems to help your cause of it being valid.
    non_cents likes this.
  12. non_cents

    non_cents The Frisco Kid

    Thank you to whoever featured the article!! :)
    Paul M. likes this.
  13. Eaglefawn

    Eaglefawn Active Member

    Wow...much research went into this post...Frisco keep on keepin' on.
    non_cents likes this.
  14. non_cents

    non_cents The Frisco Kid

    It's too interesting of a coin NOT to do a nice writeup about!
  15. kaosleeroy108

    kaosleeroy108 The Mahayana Tea Shop & hobby center

    You know I have always wanted one of these just could not afford them now I'm trying to find them or at least a few Colonial type coins and the F-35 2 AU 55. I just got a few more Colonial coins I want to get and then I'll continue with my modern stuff
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