Sign In or Create Account

Knowledge Center

Washington – Ugly Head Satirical Token – 1784

Learn About the 1784 Washington Ugly Head Satirical Token

When you consider all of the Washington Token and Medals that are part of colonial coin collecting, the Washington Ugly Head Satirical Token is one of the rarest. The very few specimens that exist are, generally, always encountered in Poor to Fair condition. A Poor-1 example sold for $10,000 back in 2010. The coin pictured below is the highest-graded example, by far, at Very Fine-25.

Struck in copper the few specimens that exist are all of a chocolate brown color and terribly weakly struck. This very rare token is actually named the “Washington the Great” token, but it is called the “Ugly Head” because the designer had no idea of what Washington looked like, and if he had a reference image, he obviously lacked the skillset to capture his image accurately. Some experts thought that instead, this might have been a satirical piece rather than one to honor Washington.

On the few examples where this is discernible, the strike may be doubled and the head may only be outlined, with little to none of the legend being present. The strike is always soft and mushy.

The obverse has an unusual portrait, facing right, with somewhat distorted features. Around the periphery is the legend “WASHINGTON THE GREAT D. G.” This is an imitation of the legend on British coins with the “D. G.” representing “DEI GRATIA” (translates to by the Grace of God).

The reverse has 13 linked (joined) rings, representing the 13 original colonies. The rings are labeled with the first letter of each colony’s name (M for Massachusetts, C for Connecticut, etc.). On the center of the reverse is the date, in two lines, “17 | 84”.

(The Finest-Known Washington Ugly Head Token, Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

It is believed that this item, unlike most Washington Pieces, was created in America, rather than in England, due to the crude nature of the engraving and design. And the joined rings on the reverse are distinctly American style.

There are four verified examples in copper and one in white metal, all of which are extremely well circulated and worn. This pictured example, grading Very Fine-25 is the Finest Known example by many grades. There is also known a silver example, but it is believed to be an electrotype copy and not an original.

The Washington Ugly Head is an extremely rare and important piece of colonial Americana, whether it was intended to be a satirical token or one that was just poorly designed.

DateTypeMintagePoor ValueVF Value
UndatedUgly Head in Copper5 Known$25,000To be sold in 2021
UndatedUgly Head in White Metal1 KnownPricelessPriceless

Expand your collection and shop our assortment of rare U.S. coins today.

Explore More On APMEX



Rare Coins