Have you ever considered just how many coins honor George Washington, our first President?
Actually, he was on the first coin to include a US President’s image in the design. The coin produced in 1900 also happened to be the first commemorative one dollar coin. Known as the Lafayette dollar, the profile behind President Washington is that of the marquis de Lafayette.
The gentleman’s real name was Marie Jean Paul Joseph Roche Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. As a young Frenchman, he was interested in America’s Declaration of Independence. He came to America in 1777 to volunteer his aid in America’s revolutionary efforts against Great Britain. On August 1, 1777, the young marquis met George Washington and began a life-long friendship.
In 1824, “in consideration of his services in the Revolutionary war, Congress voted him a grant of $200,000, besides a township of 24,000 acres, to be assigned somewhere among the unappropriated public lands.”
The obverse of the Lafayette dollar with Washington and Lafayette’s profiles:
In 1926 to celebrate the nation’s sesquicentennial (150 years) of the Declaration of Independence, another coin with a profile of Washington was minted. In addition to Washington, President Calvin Coolidge’s profile was included in the design. This coin’s design included the first instance of a living President’s likeness. The coin’s proceeds helped raise funds for the celebratory fair held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The 1926 commemorative half dollar:
Going in date sequence, the quarter in 1932 became the next coin to use Washington’s image. The quarter includes Washington in the circulating coinage from the silver in the earlier years to the clad coins we know today. The quarter with the Washington obverse started with a standard reverse with the heraldic eagle, then included the bicentennial reverse in 1975-76, the state quarters from 1999-2008, the District of Columbia and Territory quarters in 2009 and the latest national park quarters from 2010 to 2021.
But he was also honored on other commemorative coins. In 1982, the first of the Modern Commemorative coins recognized the 250th anniversary of Washington’s birth year. This coin, instead of focusing on Washington’s face and head, includes him riding a horse. Of all the Washington designs, this one provides more insight into his life and the time he lived.
The next commemorative to recognize Washington occurred in 1999. The Mint produced a $5 gold coin as the 200th anniversary of Washington’s death in 1799. This coin showed another profile portrait of the late President.
Again, continuing in date order, the next coin to show Washington’s likeness is the $1 Presidential coins in circulation today. As the first President, the introduction of this series in 2007 began with the golden dollar coin showing Washington in a three quarters view.
Of course, in addition to coins – both circulating and commemorative, we see George Washington every time we use a dollar bill to pay for something.
These coins recognize and remember a man who was instrumental to the founding of our country.
(Note: Images courtesy of the US Mint)