The direction of the Philadelphia Mint was entrusted to two engineers : David Rittenhouse was the first Director while Henry Voigt was Superintendent and Chief Coiner.
Washington and Jefferson, wanting a pretty artistic coinage, pushed the involvement of the young Wright, aged 36, who was appointed to the less formal position of First Draughtsman and Diesinker. The position of Engraver also defined under the Coinage Act was vacant but certainly already reserved for Wright.
The eagle on globe is a pattern coin with a limited text and no face value. The debate to classify it as a cent or as a quarter dollar is still open. It is undoubtedly an artist's piece, with on one side a dynamic and domineering eagle and on the other side a Liberty with bun more pleasant than the official versions of that time with floating hair.
William Dunlap, who was one of the first commentators of the US crafts, had certainly met Wright since both artists had been portraitists of General Washington in the early 1780s. His testimony on a sketch dated 1792 by Wright for the coin project of an eagle on globe seems indisputable. The description, however, differs slightly from the surviving variant.
Wright died on September 13, 1793 in the yellow fever epidemic after demanding his account on some projects including two trials of a quarter dollar made on order for Rittenhouse. The clerk who received his request observed that the pieces were broken.
According to the Coinage Act, the quarter dollar is a silver coin. The copper specimens of the eagle on globe weigh between 175 and 180 grains and are thus much lighter than a cent even after the copper devaluation of 1793. The diameter, 29 mm, is almost consistent with the future quarters.
It was not uncommon to test the dies with various materials. The two surviving coins could be the product of a satisfactory test in copper before a failed trial in silver of which no evidence is available.
The best of the two coins, graded MS63 by NGC, is for sale with no reserve price by Heritage in Orlando on January 8, lot 5511. Its bidding is at $ 1.5M before fees one week before the sale. The second specimen, graded AU50, is preserved at the Smithsonian.