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Category: Patterns

Historic proof sets and ‘Stella’ pattern coins present momentous opportunities for collectors at FUN

1834 and 1846 proof sets from private collection released as part of Heritage’s Jan. 6 FUN Platinum Night offerings in Tampa, FL

Two rare early proof sets and a remarkable set of six pattern coins associated with the famous “Stella” coinage experiment are important collective highlights of Heritage’s Tampa FUN Platinum Night U.S. Coin Auction, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011.

“All three of these sets have remained intact from the time of issue,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage. “It’s amazing to be able to see an 1834 proof set all at once, or the three coins of an 1846 proof gold set, or a six-coin set of Stella patterns. We understand that many collectors are interested in particular coins rather than sets, so we’ve chosen to offer the pieces from these sets as individual lots. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if a single buyer were to keep one of the sets together.”

The earliest set is an 1834 eight-piece proof set, half cent through half eagle, with grades ranging from PR63 to PR65 NGC. While this proof set does not include the denominations included in diplomatic presentation sets of that year – namely the legendary 1804-dated silver dollar and gold eagle – it does include eight denominations, all extremely rare: the half cent, large cent, half dime, dime, quarter, half dollar, quarter eagle, and half eagle.

“Perhaps four or five of these non-diplomatic sets were issued,” said Rohan. “All the rest were broken up long ago. Depending on who buys these coins, this may literally be the last chance for collectors to bid on one of the non-diplomatic sets while it’s still intact.”

The second set, smaller but just as important in its own fashion, is a three-piece gold proof set from 1846. It contains the three gold denominations struck that year, the quarter eagle, half eagle, and eagle, and each coin is graded PR64 Cameo by NGC. The three-coin gold set was part of a larger 10-coin complete proof set that was last offered as part of the legendary John Jay Pittman Collection. The coins trace their origin all the way back to an 1892 sale by Ed Frossard.

“Today’s collectors have a chance to make these incredibly rare 1846 gold coins part of their collections,” said Rohan. “The half eagle, for example, is the only proof specimen not in a museum collection. We hope the winning bidders enjoy the same pride of ownership that Pittman displayed.”

Chronologically last, but of similarly momentous importance, is a set of five pattern pieces dated 1879 and 1880 and related to the famous proposed international trade coin, the four dollar or “Stella.” The first five coins, all very rare or extremely rare, were made of copper and later gilt. They grade PR62 to PR64 and include a Judd-1636 1879 Flowing Hair four dollar, a Judd-1639 1879 Coiled Hair four dollar, a Judd-1658 1880 Flowing Hair four dollar, a Judd-1661 1880 Coiled Hair four dollar, and the legendary Judd-1644 1879 quintuple stella – a trade-coin spin on the existing double eagle. (more…)

Unusual Items: Republic of Eutopia “So-Called-Dollar” BiMetallic

Bowers and Merena today auctioned an unusual item, a 1886 Eutopia Dollar. HK-1005. Rarity-8. Bimetallic (Silver and Gold). MS-62 (NGC).

Designed and struck by Nicholas Veeder of Pittsburgh, PA in 1886 as a model for co-metallic coins and medals in an effort to demonstrate the practicality of using both Gold and Silver in the production of coinage.

Veeder published a booklet in 1885 titled “Co-metallism: A Plan for Combining Gold and Silver in Coinage, for Uniting and Blending their values in Paper Money and for Establishing a Composite Single Standard Dollar of Account” Quite a title !

According to reference books, the reaction at the time, to both the idea and the pattern itself were not positive, and many likened the coin to the “Goldoid” patterns previously produced in 1878.

For an interesting history of “The Patterns for International Coinage” , go to the USPatterns.com website for a summary excerpted from Stacks October 2000, 65th Anniversary Sale pages 160-161.

This is an R-8 coin, and it has been reported that the dies used to make this broke on the third impression. That has not be confirmed, but adds a bit to the mystery and unusual character of the coin.

The obverse shows a Sun and Rays on the Gold center insert with two beaded circles housing the words “Model for Cometallic Coins and Medals” On the outside border of the Silver portion of the coin reads “Republic of Eutopia” and the date 1886.

The reverse shows the Gold insert with the words “Gold 12.9/10 Grains with a beaded circle around, and then the lettering (separated)” A R G E N T O R U M Silver 206 1/4 Grs” On the outer edges of the coins are displayed the 12 signs of the Zodiac

1879 ‘Washlady’ dollar brings $161,000 to lead $9.42 million Heritage COINFEST auction

Rare U.S. Coins continue to provide for steady, even stellar prices in a crawling national economy, as evidenced by Heritage’s $9.42 million COINFEST Signature® U.S. Coin Auction, held Oct. 27-30 at the Marriot Hotel & Spa in Stamford, CT, and by the auction’s top lot, a magnificent 1879 Washlady dollar, which brought $161,000.

“These results are 20% percent higher than our pre-sale projections,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “The market for rare coins is, simply put, very strong. The best examples continue to command top prices and the top collectors are more than happy to acquire these examples.”

More than 4,380 bidders participated in the auction, both live on the auction room floor and via Heritage LIVE!™, the company’s proprietary live internet auction platform. The auction boasts a sell-through rate of 92% by value and 97% by number of lots.

Recent Heritage coin auctions have mostly seen examples of rare gold coinage taking the top slot, but the stunning 1879 $1 Washlady Dollar, Judd-1603, Pollock-1798, High R.6, PR66+ NGC, the finest known specimen, handily took top honors, finishing at $161,000 after a fierce bidding between advanced collectors. Between 12 and 15 examples are believed known of the Washlady dollar in both copper and silver. There is also one example known in white metal.

“In the late 19th century this design was not well received by dealers and collectors, and was apparently given the nickname of ‘Washlady’ by David Proskey around April 1891 at the Doughty Sale,” said Rohan. “The name stuck, but today the Washlady design is considered one of the most beautiful ever produced by the Mint.”

The equally rare and collector-coveted 1785 COPPER Connecticut Copper, African Head VF30 NGC. M. 4.2-F.6, W-2360, R.8., from The W. Philip Keller Collection of U.S. Colonials, took the second spot on the auction podium in Stamford, realizing $115,000, while a famous 1882 $20 AU53 PCGS, one of only 571 pieces struck – a coin so rare that even the Smithsonian Institution, keeper of the National Numismatic Collection, lacks an example of the issue – piqued the interest of numerous collectors of important gold with a final price realized of $80,500.

“While there are numerous double eagle issues from the late 1870s through early 1890s that boast extraordinarily low mintages,” said Rohan, “the 1882 is the absolute lowest-mintage of them all, at 571 coins. Any representative of this issue, in any grade, is an extraordinary rarity.”

A remarkable 1904 $20 PR65 Cameo PCGS was close behind the 1882 example with a final price of $74,750, a mark that was equaled in the auction by the finest known 1879 $1 Metric Dollar, Judd-1622, Pollock-1818, Low R.7, PR68 Cameo NGC, a highly desirable coin of great beauty and peculiar metallic composition (silver, copper, aluminum, and white metal) that drew considerable enthusiasm from collectors at the auction.

Further highlights include, but are not limited to:

1896 $10 PR66 PCGS. CAC. Ex: Trompeter: Realized: $63,250.

1861-O $20 AU53 PCGS. CAC: Realized: $54,625.

1796 50C 16 Stars Fine 12 PCGS Secure. O-102, High R.5: Realized: $52,900.

1909 $5 PR67 NGC. Roman Finish. Only two graded higher: Realized: $51,750.

1907 $20 Liberty PR64 Cameo PCGS: Realized: $43,125.

Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.

Unusual Coins: Copper $10 Eagle Pattern Minted in France

Heritage’s Sunday Internet Coin Auction (bidding ends on September 26) features one of the more intriguing patterns ever offered. Lot 26512 is an extremely rare copper Eagle pattern produced at the Paris Mint by engraver Louis Charles Bouvet (1802-1865). Only two copper pieces are known–both from the King Farouk Collection–although they differ slightly in thickness and edge markings. A third, unconfirmed copper example is said to be in the holdings of the British Museum (per Stack’s 9/1998 sale). An example in gold or gold-plated is also known (per American Numismatic Rarities’ 6/2006 sale).

Let us backtrack now, for a moment, to July 23, 1844. Mint Engraver Christian Gobrecht died suddenly on that date. Largely due to his political connections with John C. Calhoun as well as his skill as an engraver, Mint outsider James B. Longacre is hired to fill the position a couple of months later. Chief Coiner Franklin Peale and Mint Director Robert M. Patterson oppose the move and despise the man but are forced to accede to it. Despite his talent as an engraver, Longacre lacked skill as a die-cutter; the many reengraved, repunched, and blundered dates in U.S. coinage from 1844 to the early 1850s are evidence. Nonetheless, from 1844 to 1848, Longacre merely needed to add dates onto mechanically made dies; there were no new pattern or circulating coinage designs launched during that time.

An article by Doug Winter from The Numismatist of May 1982, titled “What Might Have Been: The Story of the Bouvet Eagle of 1849,” picks up the tale from there:

“When the Act of March 3, 1849 became law, the long period of inactivity at the Mint ended. This Act, which authorized the coinage of gold dollars and double eagles, meant that the Mint quickly had to design and produce new coins in these denominations. Mint Director Patterson had already decided that Longacre would never be able to perform this type of work, So he surreptitiously devised a plan that would get rid of Longacre once and for all. He would have Franklin Peale, on his scheduled trip to Europe in the summer of 1849, locate a suitable replacement for Longacre. In connection with his plan, Patterson used the design of the new gold dollar as a sort of litmus test for the fledgling Longacre. If Longacre failed, as Patterson confidently expected him to, he would petition for the removal of his Chief Engraver.”

No documentation of direct contact between Patterson and Bouvet survives, but Patterson is known to have contacted Charles Cushing Wright and other talented contemporary engravers about producing master dies for U.S. coinage. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Proof 1804 Eagle, Kellogg $50 gold coin, Half Unions, and an 1854-S Quarter Eagle

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, markets, and the collecting community #11

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

After discussing the Proof 1804 Eagle that has repeatedly sold privately for startling sums, I will discuss a few famous rarities that will be offered in Boston. Indeed, I have discussed other coins in these auctions in a few past columns. There are, though, a startling array of rarities in the upcoming auctions, and I have not yet covered the offerings of a “Proof-60” Kellogg $50 gold coin, two gold-plated Half Unions, and the worst known (though still attractive) 1854-S Quarter Eagle.

I. Proof 1804 $10 Gold Coin

As I have been writing extensively about famous rarities for years, I could hardly resist writing about the Proof 1804 Eagle ($10 gold coin) that was just sold by Laura Sperber to Bob Simpson, who is the leading collector of patterns and has landmark collections in other areas as well. Although the sale price has not been disclosed, it may be fair to assume that the price is between $2.5 million and $7.5 million.

There probably exist four Proof 1804 Eagles, and this one is NGC certified ‘Proof-65 Ultra Cameo.’ Further, this coin has been approved by the CAC. John Albanese, the founder of the CAC, and earlier of the NGC, was involved in enabling Simpson to acquire this coin. In 2007, a coin firm in upstate New York arranged for one of their clients to sell this coin to another one of their clients, for a reported price of “$5 million.” Coincidentally, the owner of this firm is also named Albanese, though he is not related to John.

This same upstate New York Albanese coin firm sold this same exact Proof 1804 Eagle earlier, in 2005, for a price that they reported to be “$2,274,000.” A famous collector, who refers to himself as “TradeDollarNut,” has publicly stated that he was offered this same coin, in 2001, for “$587,500.”

The value of many gold rarities has multiplied since 2001; a five to ten times increase in value is not unprecedented. Consider, as examples, the post-2005 values of many gold rarities that were included in the auctions, in 1999 and 2000, of the Harry Bass collection. It is not unusual for a Bass rarity to be worth multiples now of the price it then realized.

It is also true that this same 1804 Eagle was NGC certified ‘Proof-64 Cameo’ in 2001, or earlier, and remained so certified in 2003 and maybe later than 2003. At some point, it was PCGS graded “Proof-64.” Certainly by 2007, the NGC upgraded it to “Proof-65” with an “Ultra Cameo” designation.

How rare are Proof 1804 Eagles? It seems that there exist four, though it has been argued that there are only three. The Bass-Dannreuther book (Whitman, 2006) states “3 known,” but also indicates that the issue is “R-7+,” which means an estimate of four to six in existence. The “3” may have been a typographical error. The tenth edition of the Judd book (Whitman, 2009), which is the leading text on patterns and related pieces, lists this issue as Rarity-“8,” which means two or three or thought to exist. This same section, however, lists an auction result for a Proof 1804 Eagle that is incorrect. Oddly, the Judd book values a gold Proof 1804 Eagle at “$1,500,000.”

If there are just three, it would have impossible, in 2009 or 2010, for someone to purchase one for $1,500,000. The Eliasberg-Bass Proof 1804 Eagle is impounded in the Harry Bass Core Collection, for at least a long time, maybe forever. The ‘King of Siam’ 1804 Eagle remains in the ‘King of Siam’ Set, as far as I know. If the current owner were to dismantle the set, then the current owner would ask millions for the ‘King of Siam’ Proof 1804 Eagle.

As I just became aware of Legend’s sale of a Proof 1804 Eagle on Tuesday morning, I have not had time to research this issue before this column was posted. I am almost certain, however, that the Baldenhofer Proof 1804 Eagle exists and is different from the Eliasberg-Bass coin.
(more…)

Legend Numismatics Adds Proof 1804 Gold and Silver $10 Eagles To Impressive List of Rare Coin Transactions

One of the three known proof 1804 Eagles made on behalf of President Andrew Jackson and a rare 1804 Eagle silver pattern have been acquired by Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey and sold to a Texas collector. Both coins will be publicly displayed together for the first time at the upcoming American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money convention in Boston, August 10 – 14, 2010.

“The 1804 proof gold Eagle is a classic American rarity and the silver pattern is an amazing companion to it. Both coins are now part of the incredible collection being assembled by Bob R. Simpson of Texas, a connoisseur of numismatic quality and rarity, and a long-time client and friend,” said Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics (www.LegendCoin.com)

The gold 1804 $10 (Judd-33), graded NGC PF65 Ultra Cameo, was obtained by Legend from a private collector with the assistance of John Albanese of Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC). The silver 1804 $10 (Judd-34), graded NGC PF64, was purchased from Steven L. Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers in Irvine, California.

Graded NGC PF65 Ultra Cameo, this 1804 proof Eagle (Judd-33) was recently acquired and sold by Legend Numismatics, and now will be displayed at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Boston, August 10 – 14, 2010. (Photo credit: Numismatic Guaranty Corporation)

The coins will be displayed at the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation booth (#704) at the ANA convention (www.WorldsFairOfMoney.com).

“It’s beyond incredible to see these two coins side-by-side. A silver proof 1804 $10 redefines ‘coolness’ in my book, and I’ve handled an awful lot of world-class rarities. The gold 1804 $10 is so sharply struck it looks like a medal, and it’s one of the most beautiful coins I have ever seen,” said Sperber.

This rare 1804 proof silver pattern Eagle, graded NGC PF64 (Judd-34), was recently acquired and sold by Legend Numismatics, and will be displayed at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Boston, August 10 – 14, 2010. (Photo credit: Rare Coin Wholesalers)

The purchase and sale prices were not disclosed for these transactions. The 1804 gold proof Eagle made national headlines in 2007 when it was sold for $5 million, a record price at the time for a certified, encapsulated U.S. gold coin.

Although dated 1804, the coins were struck in 1834 or 1835 with the gold Eagle intended for use in overseas diplomatic gift presentation sets presented on behalf of President Jackson. The pedigree of this coin includes such famous collectors as Waldo Newcomer, former U.S. Treasury Secretary William H. Woodin and Col. E.H.R. Green. It was displayed at the opening reception for the Smithsonian Legendary Coins and Currency exhibit in 2005.

“The preparation of diplomatic presentation sets of United States coins circa 1834-35 prompted the minting of this proof-only edition. As no ten-dollar pieces had been issued since 1804, the Mint Director requested and received several proof examples from dies back-dated to 1804 but prepared for this occasion using technology of the 1830s,” explained David W. Lange, NGC Research Director.
The 1804 gold Eagle and 1804 silver Eagle are listed in the standard reference book, United States Pattern Coins (10th edition) by J. Hewitt Judd, M.D. The gold coin is described on the book’s rarity scale as R8 (two to three examples known) and the silver pattern as H7 (four to six known).

“Mr. Simpson’s patterns collection is unparalleled. Over the years, we’ve helped him assemble a collection that includes such famous rarities as the Amazonian set, a marvelous example of the 1792 silver-center cent (Judd-1) and two quintuple Stellas. His gold Bickford $10 will be displayed as one of the highlights in the Museum Showcase area at the ANA convention in Boston,” said Sperber.

Unique Plain Edge 1907 $10 pattern – believed the only Saint-Gaudens coin actually seen by the artist – at Boston ANA auction

Historic pattern struck just before the artist’s death for his approval

The only known Plain Edge 1907 ten dollar coin with Wire Rim, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens – and likely the only example of his coinage that he ever saw – is among the most historically important pieces in Heritage’s upcoming U.S. Coin auction. It will be offered on Aug. 11, as part of the Official Auction of the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money in Boston, MA.

“At the turn of the 20th century, Augustus Saint-Gaudens was one of America’s most prominent artists,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage. “In 1905, during Theodore Roosevelt’s second term, Roosevelt convinced Saint-Gaudens to redesign the two largest American gold coins: the ten dollar, or eagle, and the twenty dollar, or double eagle. The results made Saint-Gaudens one of the most famous American coinage artists and secured his lasting fame.”

The coinage designs would be the artist’s final masterpieces. In July 1907, when Saint-Gaudens was going through the last stage of his terminal cancer, two early examples of the ten dollar coin were struck. The edges of these two coins were plain; later Wire Rim 1907 ten dollar coins have an edge design of 46 stars.

“The two Plain Edge coins were patterns, made to see how the coins looked,” said Rohan. “They were the coinage equivalent of an artist’s proof. After the two Plain Edge coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint, they were split up.”

One was sent to Treasury Secretary George B. Cortelyou, who forwarded it to the President, while the other was sent to Saint-Gaudens at his studio in New Hampshire. This was the only time Saint-Gaudens would see his work in coin form. He died on August 3, 1907, before further work could be done on either denomination.

Archived letters show that the coin Roosevelt saw was eventually sent back to the Mint, while the Saint-Gaudens coin disappears from the record. This coin’s history is largely unknown, and it is impossible to say with certainty whether it was sent to Roosevelt or Saint-Gaudens, but it is a coin of tremendous importance regardless of the answer. Either it was sent to President Roosevelt, whose dedication to coinage redesign had been vital to the whole project; or it went to Saint-Gaudens, the artist who had spent more than two years bringing the President’s ambition to life. (more…)

The Coin That Proves When 1838 Gobrecht Dollars Were Restruck

Our August 11-15 Boston ANA Signature Auction will feature a fascinating example of a 1838 Gobrecht dollar struck over a 1859 seated dollar. This coin was apparently first noticed by Louis Werner in the Earl Bostic Collection (Stack’s, 12/1956). Walter Breen thought it noteworthy enough to comment on it in the May 1957 Numismatist in an article entitled “Some Unpublished Gobrecht Rarities”:

“In a recent New York auction Louis Werner observed that the 1838 brilliant proof Gobrecht dollar (a typical restrike, with two minute rust spots on the obverse die which should have been mentioned in my description of restrikes on page 17 of the monograph) showed a faint but unmistakable date 1859 to the right of the real date 1838. When I first saw the coin I recognized that this could have come about only through the fact that it was actually overstruck on an 1859 silver dollar. …I will simply say that I have looked at over twenty 1838s all told-originals and restrikes alike-and have never seen any other example of the kind.”

While unprecedented among Gobrecht dollars, there are parallels to two other famous coins, the 1851 dollar overstruck on an 1859-O or 1860-O dollar, and the unique Class II 1804 dollar was overstruck on an 1857 Bern Shooting taler. It is conjecture, but certainly possible that the 1851-O dollar, the Class II 1804 dollar, and this piece were all struck within a few months of each other. It is also most likely that all three were struck by the same person, Theodore Eckfeldt.

Theodore’s family had been employed in the Mint since 1792 (when Adam was first employed to do blacksmith work). In a case of poor judgment on the Mint’s part, after firing young Theodore for theft, he was later rehired as a night watchman. Eckfeldt then proceeded to work with employees in the Coiner’s Department to strike various rarities, including 1804 dollars, which he then sold to Dr. Montroville Dickeson.

Much of the Seated dollar undertype is apparent. The 859 is clearly discernible (see closeup), and most of the 1 shows except top of serif, which was struck out by the 8. Under a microscope, all obverse stars are visible (star 9 is faintest), and several of the letters in the reverse legend can be detected. (more…)

Legend Numismatics acquires the Denali Collection of Patterns and more..

By Laura Sperber as part of the Legend Market Report

Legend has acquired the Denali Collection of Patterns. One of the most comprehensive collections of 2C, 3C, 20C pieces along with 1870 pieces. While we do know of several incredible Pattern collections out there, none are of the scope or size (this collection is OVER 350 pieces). There are many R-7/R-8’s (with the only other coin being in the Simpson Collection). We rank this multimillion dollar Collection second only to our Simpson Collection.

This collection was assembled by a long time friend and customer of Legend. Ironically, he built this collection before we ever started dabbling in Patterns!

The collector is also a true scholar. In fact, since we started working on the acquisition of this set, we have learned MANY things about certain Patterns from him we never knew (like how the Mint tested dipping one side of a coin in silver, or how it made some dies, etc).

There are some monster wicked cool coins we never knew existed even though they are in the Judd book -like 793A, a 2C piece obverse with a 25C Standard silver reverse. WOW! We could go on and on.

ALL of the coins in this incredible collection are graded by PCGS. Grades range from VG 08 to PR67! Due to time restraints, we are hoping to have the coins inventoried by the end of the month (we have another major deal incoming). Our goal is to offer some coins starting at or immediately after the ANA Show.

If you have a Pattern Want list, make sure we have it, or subscribe to our email blasts (we are NOT spammers) to find out when these coins will be available. in many cases, this will be your ONLY chance to acquire a certain Judd number.

THE SIMPSON COLLECTION DUPLICATES-THE HERITAGE SALE

As you may know, Legend is the exclusive dealer for the Simpson Collection. This collection already ranks as one of the greatest EVER assembled. So we’d like to let you know whats happening with the collection.

Legend did indeed place a multimillion dollar consignment of coins from the this incredible collection in the ANA sale. No, Mr. Simpson is not slowing down or selling (you’ll certainly see that by the next few major announcements we’ll make). He actually needed more room! He is building so many sets that his boxes become cluttered. So he allowed us to outright buy a few coins, but his desire was that his duplicates be placed in auction so other collectors have the opportunity to finish their sets. The majority of the coins are UNRESERVED. We can assure you, the quality is all there and then some. His standards are amazingly high. Legend did sell him the majority of what is in the sale. So if you have any questions, please feel free to ask us about any coin. (more…)

Coin Profile: The Farouk-Norweb 1915 No S Panama-Pacific Half Dollar in Gold

One of Only Two Known

Heritage will be offering one of only two known 1915 P50C Panama-Pacific Half Dollars struck in Gold (Judd-1960 PR64 NGC) during the Boston ANA Signature Sale in August Lot # 13007.

The design is the same as the regular-issue 1915-S Panama-Pacific commemorative half, but lacking the normal S mintmark. Struck in gold with a reeded edge. Other S-less Panama-Pacific half dollar patterns are also known in silver and copper. These extremely rare patterns were clearly clandestine strikes, produced at the Philadelphia Mint before mintmark punches were applied to the working dies. There are two known examples of the gold half dollar, both struck on cut-down, struck Saint-Gaudens double eagle coins. Similar examples are known of the 1915 Panama-Pacific gold dollar and of the round and octagonal fifty dollar pieces, all lacking the S mintmark. The website USPatterns.com comments of the pieces, “These could be die trials but it seems that they were really struck for profit.”

Pollock comments in his United States Patterns and Related Issues:

“Farran Zerbe, who was involved in the coining and distribution of the Panama-Pacific commemoratives in California, has been quoted by Walter Breen as saying that specimens ‘may have been struck as trial pieces at the Philadelphia Mint by the instructions of the Secretary of the Treasury, who was a coin collector.’ The Secretary of the Treasury at the time was W.G. McAdoo of New York, a name familiar to students of U.S. paper money.”

Anthony Swiatek, in his Commemorative Coins of the United States (2001), writes much more unequivocally concerning the 1915 Pan-Pac half dollar, “Extremely rare trial pieces, made at the Philadelphia Mint, were struck without the S Mint mark. Two were created in gold, six in silver and four in copper for Treasury Secretary William Gibbs McAdoo–a coin collector!”

Further along, Pollock records his notes on the present specimen:

“Careful examination of the Farouk-Norweb coin [the present coin, listed as No. 2 in the Census below] reveals planchet file marks and traces of an undertype, indicating that the half dollar dies were impressed on a cut-down $20 gold coin, which had been filed to remove high-relief details. This piece is remarkably thick: 2.4 mm at the edge versus 2.1 mm for a regular-issue Panama-Pacific half dollar.

“The characteristics of the coin suggest that it was made clandestinely. Since the piece is overstruck instead of being made using a new planchet of normal thickness, it can be inferred that there was a desire on the part of the manufacturer that no mention of the piece be made in the bullion account books, and thus it may have been produced secretly at the Mint in the same manner as the 1913 Liberty nickel or the Class III 1804 dollar. The only other known example of the variety [listed as No. 1 below] is reportedly also struck over a cut-down $20 gold piece.” (more…)

Simpson Collection of Bickford $10 Pattern Coins to be displayed at Boston ANA

A complete set of 1874 Bickford $10 Pattern coins will be exhibited at the American Numismatic Associations Boston Money Show August 11-14th. 

The set is part of perhaps the most complete collection of US pattern coins ever assembled and include all seven of the  variations attributed according to Judd numbers (US Pattern Coins, Experimental & Trial Pieces by J. Hewitt Judd, Edited by Q. David Bowers), include Judd-1373, one of just two known examples struck in gold.

Texan Bob Simpson is the ultimate numismatic connoisseur, desiring only those coins that meet his exacting standards. He knows what he wants, and nothing less will do. Facilitating his efforts is his longtime numismatic consultant, Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics. The old saying, “Know your coins or know your dealer” is particularly apt, as Mr. Simpson knows both, and this relationship has paid off with an epic collection of coins that compares favorably with the great named collections of the past.

Mr. Simpson’s premier passion is United States pattern and trial coins, and his collection of these is unparalleled. Comprising most of the entries found in Dr. J. Hewitt Judd’s standard reference work, United States Pattern Coins, now in its 10th edition, the Simpson Collection is the greatest assemblage of such coins since Judd’s own collection was dispersed some 50 years ago.

The coins in the collection include the following:

The Bickford pattern ten dollar gold pieces, Judd-1373, were not known to numismatists of the 19th century. The design was struck in copper, aluminum, and nickel compositions, as well as gold, with both plain and reeded edges. Examples of the design in copper appeared in various auction catalogs of the period, but even the greatest pattern collections of the era did not include an example of Judd-1373. Robert Coulton Davis published the first important work on U.S. pattern coins in the Coin Collector’s Journal in 1885, where he described both plain and reeded edge varieties of the design in copper, but he was unaware of the strikings in other metals. (more…)

Phenomenal Simpson Collection of United States Pattern Coins Helps NGC Launch Plus Designation

Many of the coins from this superb collection have received NGC’s new Plus Designation.

Followers of the numismatic scene have already learned of the fabulous Simpson Collection of United States pattern coins, but one remarkable numismatist is a connoisseur of other series, as well. He possesses superb holdings of nearly all United States coin series spanning the period from the 1830s to the 1930s, most of which have been graded and certified by NGC.

Many Simpson Collection coins have received the new Plus () Designation from NGC. Launched on May 25, 2010, the is used to identify coins at the high end of their assigned grade, approaching the quality requirements for the next grade. This new NGC service offering is heralded with the placement of the important Simpson Collection coins on the NGC Registry. Now updated to accommodate graded coins, the NGC Registry is the go-to place to find the rarest and most beautiful coins from around the world. The addition of the Simpson Collection sets only confirms this trend, and users of the NGC Registry will be able to view these remarkable coins for themselves in glorious color.

Texan Bob Simpson is the ultimate numismatic connoisseur, desiring only those coins that meet his exacting standards. He knows what he wants, and nothing less will do. Facilitating his efforts is his longtime numismatic consultant, Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics. The old saying, “Know your coins or know your dealer” is particularly apt, as Mr. Simpson knows both, and this relationship has paid off with an epic collection of coins that compares favorably with the great named collections of the past.

Mr. Simpson’s premier passion is United States pattern and trial coins, and his collection of these is unparalleled. Comprising most of the entries found in Dr. J. Hewitt Judd’s standard reference work, United States Pattern Coins, now in its 10th edition, the Simpson Collection is the greatest assemblage of such coins since Judd’s own collection was dispersed some 50 years ago.

Among its amazing highlights is a complete set of the highly coveted stellas, or four-dollar pieces, complete in all types, dates and metals. While perhaps less known to most collectors, his array of early US Mint patterns is of the greatest historic value and rarity. These coins include 1792-dated pieces such as the silver-center cent (J-1), the even more rare example of this coin without a silver center (J-2), the most popular of early federal patterns — the HALF DISME (J-7) and the exceedingly rare DISME in all three varieties (J-9,-10,-11).

Also included are both uniface impressions of Joseph Wright’s famed quarter dollar pattern (J-A1792-1,-2). These coins are seldom offered for sale, as their owners are typically devoted numismatists who cherish their immense historical importance. Such a figure is Bob Simpson. (more…)

Coin Profile: 1871 Standard Silver Pattern Proof Set to be sold in Baltimore

Bowers and Merena will be offering Lot 3410 in their Baltimore Coin and Currency Auction next week. One item, possibly unique, is a 5 coin 1871 Standard Silver Pattern Proof Set.

Five-piece pattern proof sets of this type were distributed by the Mint to contemporary collectors. The number of such sets produced is unknown, but survivors are very rare with probably no more than six examples of each denomination known to exist. The specimens we offer here could represent an original set, inasmuch as the coins all trace their pedigree to the Harold P. Newlin and Garrett collections.

What is interesting, however, is that the coins were offered individually when Bowers and Ruddy conducted its first two installments of the Garrett Collection Sales in 1979 and 1980. Whether the coins comprise an original set or have been united to form an assembled set makes little difference–this lot represents what is almost certainly the only intact set of these pattern types in numismatic hands.

The obverse design of all examples is the same and features Chief Engraver James Barton Longacre’s Indian Princess motif with no stars around the borders. Liberty is seated left wearing a Native American headdress, her left hand resting atop a globe inscribed LIBERTY and her right hand supporting a liberty pole. Two flags are behind the portrait, and the date 1871 is below.

The reverse designs are identical with the exception of the denomination, which is centered within a wreath of corn and cotton. The word STANDARD is inscribed along the upper border. Struck in silver with either a reeded or plain edge. (more…)

An introduction to Gobrecht Silver Dollars 1836-1837

By: Dennis Hengeveld – Republished with Permission from the Author

1836 Original J-60 Gobracht DollarGobrecht Dollars. They have fascinated both collectors and researchers since they were minted, first in 1836, and for the last somewhere in the 1870’s as re-strikes. And collectors love them. On the obverse, the coin design shows Miss Liberty, seated on a rock and with here right hand holding a shield. Sometimes there are stars around Miss Liberty, sometimes not. On the reverse, there is an eagle, flying onward in different positions, sometimes up and sometimes level. Here also, sometimes there are stars around the eagle, sometimes not.

The above text sounds a bit confusing, but that is also the case with the Gobrecht dollars. The originals are already confusing when you want to find out when they were minted, and how much. Because only very few were minted (always less than 1000 if you take die alignments in account) die cracks and the like are very rare, and you have to find other ways to find it out. Then there are the second originals, sometimes already designated as re-strikes. And after that the real re-strikes were made trough the early 1870’s.

Reverse of a Gobrecht DollarThe designer, Christian Gobrecht was of German ancestry, and was born in Pennsylvania in 1785, and early in his life he showed an interest and talent for artistic and engraving work. He perfected his talent when he worked for a clockmaker at the usual tender age by putting his engraving skills in ornamental designs put on watches. In 1811, he moved to Philadelphia, and after that he soon began to work for a bank-note firm. As early as 1816 his name was well known in engraving circles and he seems to have begun his die engraving work about this time, although there are no signed medals until the mid-1820s. When the mint’s engraver Robert Scot died in November 1823, Gobrecht was already well enough known to become a temporary replacement. Unfortunately for him, he was turned down in favour of William Kneass, who had better connections (which was very important at that time). The chief engraver received a salary of $1200 per annum (year) and Gobrecht thought even this amount was barely acceptable. Despite losing the top prize and turning down the assistantship, Gobrecht maintained a connection with the Mint in several ways. Not only did he make letter and figure punches for the engraving department, in 1825 he executed some fine Liberty heads (which again for him) unfortunately were not used on the coinage.

In mid June 1835, Gobrecht was hired has the second engraver of the mint. He was needed for this because during the 1834-1835 winter, Congress was debating that there were three more mints (Charlotte, Dahlonega and New Orleans) needed. In March 1835 the legislators decreed, and the president accepted it. Gobrecht would receive $1500 annually, and the first engraver William Kneass would receive an increase to the same amount.

In late August 1835 the director (Dr. Robert Maskell Patterson at that time) wrote the Treasury for emergency authority to hire Gobrecht because first engraver Kneass suffered a severe stroke, which incapacitated him for some months and after that he was never able to do detailed engraving work again and this the permission was granted in short order. (more…)

Unusual Items: 1874 Dana Bickford Ten Dollar Gold Coin

Heritage Auctions will be selling one of the two known Bickford $10 Gold Patterns at it FUN Sale this week. Below is the Catelog description of the coin and some history surrounding it.

judd_1373_bickford_gold_10The Bickford pattern ten dollar gold piece, known to pattern collectors as Judd-1373, is one of the most celebrated issues in the U.S. pattern series. Only two examples are known, placing the issue at the pinnacle of rarity. Both known examples have been meticulously preserved, and their size, attractive design, and majestic gold composition combine to make them breathtakingly beautiful numismatic patterns. The rich and mysterious history shared by these pieces adds to their irresistible appeal.

The Design

On the obverse, a fresh-faced, youthful Liberty faces left, with her hair tied back and wearing a diadem, ornamented with six stars, reading LIBERTY. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA rings the rim; the date 1874 is below. Liberty has an olive wreath tied around her neck. On the reverse a rope design forms six separate cartouches around the rim. In the center is the Latin word UBIQUE “everywhere,” with 16.72 GRAMS 900 FINE in three lines. In the cartouches are the coin’s exchange values in various international currencies: DOLLARS 10; STERLING 2.1.1; MARKEN 41.99; KRONEN 37.31; GULDEN 20.73; FRANCS 51.81. Struck in gold, with a reeded edge. The diameter is the same as a twenty dollar, but the planchet is thinner.

Bickford’s Proposal

Dana Bickford’s proposal for an international coinage captured the public’s attention in the mid-1870s. The following article explaining the situation was originally published in The Coin and Stamp Journal in Kansas City, Missouri (February 1876 issue). It has been reprinted in several sources since that time:

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Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Pattern to be Sold by Stack’s: One of Just Two Known

Stack’s is holding their 74th Anniversary Sale this year in Baltimore, MD from November 9-11, 2009. One of the impressive highlights of the sale is an Ultra High Relief Pattern, One of just two known.

stacks_20uhr_J1907From the Stacks sale of the Morrison Family and Lawrence C. Licht collections, March 2005, Lot 1538, this coin was described as follows:

“Discovered in the early 1990s, this extraordinary Ultra High Relief Double Eagle was struck inside the 3-segment collar created by Charles E. Barber for his unique 1906 Pattern Double Eagle (Judd-1773) no residing at the Smithsonian. This collar bore the nation’s Latin motto in small sans-serif letters separated by 13 stars: E*P*L*U*R*I*B*U*S*U*N*U*M*. The normal edge device used on all succeeding Ultra High Relief Double Eagles was the Roman-style serif-lettered motto, *E*PLURIBUS*UNUM**********. Comparison with Ultra High Relief specimens in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution, expedited by the late Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, revealed that 1906-style lettering was also used on the experimental extra-thick piéfort Double Eagles with the diameter of a Gold Eagle (Judd 1779 [now J-1917]), also housed in the national collection. This coin’s edge lettering is ‘inverted,’ upside down if examined while the coin is horizontal with the obverse up, more properly described as Alignment I. Alignment II with lettering right side up was the one actually adopted for the later strikes.”

There are only two known examples of J-1907. As detailed below, this piece is the discovery specimen for the J-1907 variety; it first came to light as a new type in 1992. Pollock in his United States Patterns and Related Issues provides the following historical note about the specimen: “Discovered by Paul Song of Sotheby’s while examining a ‘small estate collection,’ and was authenticated by David Tripp and J.P. Martin.” A second example turned up in 1995, which is also described as having an “inverted” edge letters arrangement. (more…)

Newly Found 1792 Washington Pattern Cent to be Offered for Sale

Throughout the 1860s and 1870s numismatics and coin collecting grew into a popular hobby for many people of means, and Washington pieces ascended to be one of the most popular areas in the American numismatic community. Tokens, medals, and other pieces bearing the portrait of Washington, some made in England and France and America, were avidly sought. A Description of the Medals of Washington, by James Ross Snowden, director of the mint, was published in 1861 and described the Mint Collection. In 1885 the monumental work, The Medallic Portraits of Washington, by W. S. Baker, was published in Philadelphia. In 1985, this volume was completely updated and revised by Russell Rulau and Dr. George Fuld.

From the mid-19th century to the present, Washington pieces have formed an important specialty in American Numismatics. Indeed, no major reference book is complete without mention of them, and no collection can be called comprehensive without containing examples of Washington coins and medals.

Thenicely detailed example shown here is going to be offered for sale by Heritage as par of their Long Beach Auction next month. It has smooth chestnut-brown surfaces that are free of porosity or corrosion. However, several scratches and scrapes occur on each side, including a number of rim imperfections. At the same time, it is more desirable than the Garrett-Roper coin that is well worn, or the Robison example that is holed and plugged. The finest known is the Norweb coin (Stack’s, 11/2006), that sold for $253,000.

The prior provenance is unknown, but it is from an old-time numismatic holding and has been off the market for decades, and is a new specimen to the current numismatic generation. Despite its obvious imperfections, the present specimen of the Hancock Washington pattern is extremely important and highly desirable.
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Three $4 Coil Hair Stella Pattern Coins to be offered by Heritage

The $4 Stella holds a special place in most coin collectors hearts, both in terms of design, its unique denomination and the allure of desirability. There are Two different types produced over two years; The Flowing Hair design of 1879 and 1880 (designed by Charles E. Barber) and the Coiled Hair design (Designed by George T. Morgan) of the same time period. All were struck as patterns and examples can be found in Gold, Aluminum, Copper and White Metal.

The 1880 Coiled Hair issue is clearly the rarest of four varieties. In past rosters, we have only been able to account for eight different examples, but have now added a ninth example from the Dallas Bank Collection.

For many years it was believed that just 10 pieces were struck, but it is more likely that 20 pieces were originally coined. A general rule for proof gold pieces from the mid- to late 1800s is that approximately half the original mintage survives.

Like the 1879 Coiled Hair and 1880 Flowing Hair coins, the 1880 Coiled Hair is a major rarity from an extremely small mintage. Only the 1879 Flowing Hair stella could be called anything close to common (with an estimated mintage of a mere 425 pieces), and that is the issue most often chosen by type collectors who want a single example of the stella.

Three examples of the Stella are going to be offered at the Heritage Sale in Los Angeles latter this month as part of the “pre ANA” auctions, offering collectors a unique opportunity to to view and bid on these beautiful coins. What makes this even more special is that the patterns are offered in Gold, Aluminum and Copper. (more…)

Gold Seminar, Superb Morgan Dollars at May 2009 Long Beach Expo

Award-winning numismatic author Scott Travers and veteran financial journalist Jim Kingsland will present a detailed, three-hour public educational forum about buying and selling gold on Saturday, May 30, 2009, during the Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo in the Long Beach, California Convention Center, 100 S. Pine Ave., May 28 to 30.

Gold River Morgan Dollar SetVisitors to the three-day show will see both the “Gold River Morgan Dollars Set,” ranked number two on the PCGS Set Registry for date set circulation strikes, and see the “Wild West Collection,” a complete set of superb-grade Carson City dollars. A free gold coin door prize will be awarded to a lucky, registered visitor each day.

The seminar, “Gold: Hoping For The Best, Preparing For The Worst,” will be presented from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, May 30, in room 102-C of the Long Beach Convention Center.

“The gold seminar will be jointly conducted by Travers, an acclaimed consumer advocate who is the author of a dozen award-winning numismatic books, and by Kingsland, a respected Fox Business Network editor and long-time Wall Street journalist,” said Ronald J. Gillio, Expo General Chairman.

“With the renewed interest in gold because of the U.S. and world economic situation, this certainly is one of the most important and timely educational seminars we’ve had in the history of the Long Beach Expo.”

“This educational program will provide pertinent and potentially valuable information about the precious metals markets from mining stocks to bullion coins – such as the American Eagle and Canadian Maple Leaf – to gold estate jewelry and ‘scrap’ gold,” explained Travers. (more…)

Unusual Items: Experimental Alluminum Alloy 1942 Cent Judd-2079

1942 1C Cent, Judd-2079, Pollock-2076, R.8, PR66 PCGS. Regular die trial issue but struck in aluminum with a plain edge. Struck on a planchet that is almost twice as thick as a regular cent, although this is not evident in the PCGS encasement.

The pattern cents from 1942 are divided into two groups, those of the regular issue design as this piece and those modeled after the Colombian two centavo. The regular design patterns are far rarer as a group but limited to only three compositions: aluminum, zinc-coated steel, and white metal. Those modeled after the two centavo are far more available as a group and seen in a wide variety of compositions, but some are equally as rare as the regular issue die trials.

The Judd book (10th edition) makes an interesting comment about these pieces: “Regular 1942 Lincoln cent dies are said to have been used to strike coins in pure zinc, copper and zinc, zinc-coated steel, aluminum, copperweld, antimony, white metal, and lead, among other materials.” If this is accurate, then there are many other experimental alloy cents that remain to be discovered, as only three alloys are known today.

An interesting story is related in Andrew Pollock’s pattern reference on page 390: “2076. Aluminum. Plain Edge. Rarity-8. Reportedly, an example was received in change by an ice dealer in the Annapolis, Maryland area, presumably in the 1940s.” We cannot say for certain if this is that particular experimental striking, but we doubt it since the surfaces of this piece are so free from problems or contact marks. (more…)

Unusual Items: 1836 Gobrecht Dollar, Judd-63 Name Below Base, Starless Obverse and Reverse

Extremely Rare, One of Only Three Known, The Farouk-Baldenhofer Specimen

1836 Gobrecht Dollar, Judd-631836 P$1 Name Below Base, Judd-63 Restrike, Pollock-63, R.8, PR62 NGC. Silver. Plain Edge. Die Alignment III (the center of Liberty’s head is opposite the right edge of the N in ONE). This extremely rare muling combines the Name Below Base, Starless Obverse dated 1836 with the Starless Reverse of 1838. Only three such pieces are known.

These rarities obviously have their story intertwined with that of the Name Below Base Judd-58 dollars. Much recent research has been conducted on those pieces, and it is now generally accepted that none were struck in 1836. No Die Alignment I pieces are known, and no records exist of these coins until the late 1850s. This would be the earliest date the Judd-63 dollars could have been struck, and it is generally believed that they were actually produced sometime between 1867 and 1878, a time period that would correspond with one of the tenures of Henry Linderman as Mint director.

An interesting recent discovery by John Dannreuther further underscores the late striking period for the Name Below Base dollars. These coins all show effacement of C. GOBRECHT F. from the base of the rock–a move that was clearly done so that it could be added again below the base.

The Judd-63 dollars were obviously produced for sale to collectors as there was no obvious need for a starless obverse and reverse combination. All known examples show the same diagnostics. The reverse shows die cracks through the tops of MERI, the base of LAR in DOLLAR, and the top of TE in UNITED. All examples also show a raised die spur on the right side of the D in UNITED. (more…)

Unique Items: 1865 50C Half Dollar, Judd-431, Pollock-504, Unique

The obverse features the familiar Liberty Seated design used for regular-issue coinage in 1865. The reverse design consists of the traditional perched eagle motif, with the addition of the scroll and motto IN GOD WE TRUST. The reverse design was not adopted for regular coinage of this denomination until 1866. Struck in aluminum with a reeded edge. Sold at the 2009 January Orlando, FL Heritage FUN Auction #1121 Lot: 1639 for $46,000

It is possible that Judd-431 was struck in 1865 as a die trial piece, but it seems unlikely. There is no discernible reason to test the transitional pattern dies in such an exotic and expensive metal in 1865. Walter Breen noted that the obverse die was different from any of the regular-issue No Motto proofs produced in that year. It is most likely that Judd-431 is a fantasy piece, created for sale to collectors at a later date.

Whatever its origin, the extreme rarity of this issue is not in doubt. Andrew Pollock, the latest Judd reference, and USPatterns.com all list this coin as unique. Robert Coulton Davis was aware of the issue and listed it as number 198 in his pioneering work on patterns in 1885. There was no example of Judd-431 in the R.C. Davis Collection (New York Coin and Stamp, 1/1890) at the time it was sold. Davis must have known about the coin from another source. The piece was also missing from the Parmelee Collection, Woodin’s consignment at the 1914 ANS Exhibition, the King Farouk Collection, and the Lohr Collection. (more…)

Queller Collection of Coin Patterns Sells for $8.36 Million (Part 3 of 3)

by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

The FUN Convention is the leading event for rare U.S. coins, and Heritage devoted an entire evening to the auction of one collection of U.S. Patterns. On Wed., Jan. 7, 2009, at the Orlando Convention Center, the Queller collection of pattern, experimental, trial, and fantasy pieces was sold without reserves.

  • Part 1 – An overview of the sale of the Queller collection and a definition of patterns in general, along with discussions of $50 gold denomination patterns and the famous Washlady patterns of 1879.
  • Part 2 Famous patterns and a few ‘not so famous’ silver dollar (or trade dollar) patterns.
  • Part 3 – Discussions of 1792 cent patterns, relatively inexpensive items in the sale, patterns of gold denominations, and my favorite piece in the Queller pattern collection.

1792 P1C One Cent, Judd-1Collectors who are interested in history may be particularly attracted to the patterns of the 1790s. Even those collectors who cannot afford them may enjoy learning about them. Besides, studying the patterns of the 1790s contributes to an understanding of the denominations and designs of U.S. coins in the 1790s and the decades that followed, with some connections to the U.S. coinage of the present. Indeed, patterns of the 1790s relate to the beginning of the U.S. Mint and the concepts that link patterns to the philosophical underpinnings of the United States.

The Birch cents of 1792 are legendary patterns. Even the motto, “LIBERTY [is the] PARENT OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY,” is fascinating and stems from the views of some of the founding fathers.

There are three varieties of Birch Cents, though, as far as I know, no one collects them by variety. Teichman suggests that “there are about a dozen known of all three varieties combined.” It would not surprise me if sixteen or seventeen exist. The Queller piece is NGC graded Fair-02. In my view, the obverse grades a high end AG-03,while the reverse does not quite grade Poor-01, maybe 0.4? Many experts would accept the overall Fair-02 grade for this Birch cent.

Saul Teichman figures that this Birch cent had a market value in the range of “$30,000 to $40,000.” My guess is that, if another considerably circulated Birch Cent had been available on the FUN Convention bourse floor, it would have traded for substantially less than $60,000. The $86,250 auction result for this piece is surprising.

Queller’s 1792 silver-center cent was much earlier in the famous collection of Joseph Mickley. The idea of a cent coin containing $0.0075 silver and $0.0025 copper is intriguing. This piece brought $253,000. It also features the motto mentioned above, “LIBERTY PARENT OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY”! Moreover, Thomas Jefferson discusses these silver-center cent patterns in a letter to George Washington. Jefferson and Washington were involved in the process of selecting coin types. Please see my article about another 1792 One Cent pattern that was auctioned at the Jan. 2008 FUN Convention. (more…)

Queller Collection of Coin Patterns Sells for $8.36 Million (Part 2 of 3)

by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

The FUN Convention is the leading event for rare U.S. coins, and Heritage devoted an entire evening to the auction of one collection of U.S. Patterns. On Wed., Jan. 7, 2009, at the Orlando Convention Center, the Queller collection of pattern, experimental, trial, and fantasy pieces was sold without reserves.

  • Part 1 – An overview of the sale of the Queller collection and a definition of patterns in general, along with discussions of $50 gold denomination patterns and the famous Washlady patterns of 1879.
  • Part 2 Famous patterns and a few ‘not so famous’ silver dollar (or trade dollar) patterns.
  • Part 3 – Discussions of 1792 cent patterns, relatively inexpensive items in the sale, patterns of gold denominations, and my favorite piece in the Queller pattern collection.

1879 Schoolgirl DollarsPattern enthusiasts become energized when some of the most famous patterns are auctioned. The Schoolgirl Silver Dollar patterns are extremely famous. This design is found only on silver dollar size pieces dated 1879; there are no Schoolgirl dimes, quarters, or halves.

Queller’s copper Schoolgirl realized $37,375. While other copper Schoolgirls have realized considerably more in past auctions, those are of much higher quality than this one. In my opinion, this price is a little high, in terms of market prices for patterns. The Queller copper Schoolgirl is at, or near, the bottom of the condition rankings. Perhaps all Schoolgirl patterns are logically undervalued, however, when the rarity and fame of the issue is considered. There are probably fewer than thirty Schoolgirl dollars in all metals. There may be more than two thousand 1893-S Morgan Dollars. (Please see my article on an 1893-S that sold for more than $1 million.) It would be both interesting and exciting to own any of the Schoolgirl patterns, regardless of metal or grade.

Queller’s silver Schoolgirl is NGC certified “Proof-65 Cameo.” According to Saul Teichman, “there are at least fourteen different Schoolgirl dollars in silver.” Though the Queller Schoolgirl is not among the top three or four known, it is colorful and flashy. It has full, strongly mirrored fields. It looks much different in actuality than it does in the catalogue pictures. It has to be seen to be interpreted.

When it was offered by B&R in the July 1981 ANA auction, this Schoolgirl did not sell. Coin markets were very weak at the time. The consignor then, William “Rudy” Sieck, would not let it go for $28,000. Sieck and Queller were friends, and Sieck sold it privately to Queller, not long after that auction, for considerably more than $28,000.

On Jan. 7, 2009, bidding opened at nearly $70,000. Laura Sperber quickly bid more than $80,000. A telephone bidder pushed the level beyond $90,000. I believe someone on the floor bid about $105,000. Steve Contursi then grabbed the Queller Schoolgirl for $115,000. (more…)

Queller Collection of Coin Patterns Sells for $8.36 Million (Part 1)

by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

The FUN Convention is the leading event for rare U.S. coins, and Heritage devoted an entire evening to the auction of one collection of U.S. Patterns. On Wed., Jan. 7, 2009, at the Orlando Convention Center, the entire Queller collection of pattern, experimental, trial, and fantasy pieces was sold without reserve.

  • Part 1 – An overview of the sale of the Queller collection and a definition of patterns in general, along with discussions of $50 gold denomination patterns and the famous Washlady patterns of 1879.
  • Part 2 Famous patterns and a few ‘not so famous’ silver dollar (or trade dollar) patterns.
  • Part 3 – Discussions of 1792 cent patterns, relatively inexpensive items in the sale, patterns of gold denominations, and my favorite piece in the Queller pattern collection.

$50 1877 Gold Bronze and Gilt PatternsThe most expensive item in the collection is a proposed $50 gold denomination piece. The primary U.S. Mint in Philadelphia never regularly issued $50 gold coins. These were considered. Patterns of $50 gold coins were made, probably for Treasury Department officials and U.S. Congressmen. It is likely that at least some Mint officials would like to have produced $50 gold coins, and many influential Americans probably wanted them to be issued. One of the purposes of such patterns is to show people what a $50 gold coin would look like and to ‘show off’ proposed designs for $50 gold coins. Only two $50 gold patterns that are actually struck in gold are known to exist, and both of these are in the Smithsonian. Several copper patterns are known, some of which were gold-plated at the Philadelphia Mint. There are two varieties that are subtly different. Queller had the first variety in gilt, meaning that it is gold-plated, and the second variety in copper. All $50 gold patterns are dated 1877.

The gilt $50 pattern sold for $207,000. Bidding for the copper one started at $115,000. A New York dealer was still involved as the bidding surpassed $240,000. As the level reached $400,000, the contest became a duel between Laura Sperber, of Legend Numismatics, and Larry Hanks. It is widely believed that both Sperber and Hanks were representing collectors. Later, Sperber stated that she expected the coin to sell for between $287,500 and $400,000. She battled Hanks until she captured the coin for a record $575,000. No $50 gold denomination pattern has ever sold, at auction, for anywhere near as much. This result is also a record for any copper pattern. Veteran dealer Chris Napolitano, who is a major player on the auction circuit, had estimated that it would “sell for around $350,000.”

The $8.36 million total is astonishing. Andy Lustig remarked that he expected the Queller collection to realize $6.9 million. Lustig has been a dealer, a collector, and a recognized expert in patterns for more than twenty years. He was the successful bidder for a small number of patterns at the sale. Andy “expected to spend three times” the amount that he did.

Lustig declares that the “sale brought solid prices across the board, with few bargains. There was none of the discounting that [he] expected to see, given the vastness of the offering and the weakness of the general market. In fact, all of the big surprises were on the upside, with many coins bringing two to three times” the prices that Lustig “expected.” (more…)

Lemus-Queller Collection of Patterns Tops $8.3 Million At FUN

The Official Auctions of the FUN 2009 Convention in Orlando began on Wednesday, Jan. 7, and spectacular results have already been posted in Heritage’s first Pattern Night session featuring The Lemus CollectionQueller Family Collection Part Two.

Containing 465 different Patterns, the collection was so extensive that it warranted a special catalog, and posted prices realized totaling $8,361,219. The Lemus Patterns were followed by a further session of patterns from the holdings of more than 600 consignors participating in Heritage’s FUN auctions, which brought in an additional $650,000. As additional sessions take place in Heritage’s $50 million, 15,000+ lot auction, results will be posted on its Web site (www.HA.com).

“We expected FUN 2009 to be amazing,” said Heritage President Greg Rohan, “and so far we’re thrilled. We’re just incredibly excited about the coins and notes we’re bringing to the eager buyers in Orlando. FUN started just days after we presented our $7 million auction of Ancient and World Coins at the New York International Numismatic Convention. FUN is the world’s largest coin show, and Heritage is the world’s largest numismatic auctioneer; these events are always exciting!”

Featured Lemus-Queller rarities at FUN included:

Lot 1500: 1792 Pattern Cent, Judd-1, Pollock-1, High R.6, VF30 NGC. Realized: $253,000.

With a design most likely by Henry Voight, the patterns of 1792 are the rarest series of patterns ever struck, and each is a classic of U.S. coinage in its own right. This exclusive series includes the silver center cent, Birch cent (two varieties), half disme, disme, and the Eagle on Globe quarter. Of these five issues, only the half disme and disme ever circulated. From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two.

Lot 1501: 1792 Birch Cent, Judd-5, Pollock-6, R.8, Fair 2 NGC. Realized: $86,250

On the obverse Liberty faces right, and the name BIRCH is seen on the truncation of her neck; most likely designed by William Russell Birch. Struck in copper with a lettered edge reading TO BE ESTEEMED BE USEFUL. From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two. (more…)

Unique Items: 1797 Die Trial $5 Five Dollar Struck in copper

1797 DT$5 Five Dollar, Judd-24, Pollock-40, Unique--Mint Defaced--PR50 NGC. 1797 DT$5 Five Dollar, Judd-24, Pollock-40, Unique–Mint Defaced–PR50 NGC.

This issue is an original die trials piece from 1797. It was defaced at the Mint to prevent possible counterfeiting (it would be a simple matter to gild the piece, and five dollars was a lot of money in 1797).

Miraculously preserved, this piece has been known to numismatists since the 1890s. The dies were used to strike an extremely rare variety of 1797 half eagle, BD-4, with only a single example known today. The BD-4 variety was unknown until Robert P. Hilt discovered a specimen in the Byron Reed Collection in 1972. Harry Bass purchased that coin at the sale of the Byron Reed Collection (Spink, 10/1996), lot 99, and it now resides in the Harry Bass Research Foundation.

Because of this unique copper pattern, the BD-4 reverse die was known to the numismatic community for almost a century before the single gold example was discovered. Unique, the only specimen known. The coin has been off the market for 20 years, and it may not be offered again for decades.

While not a thing of beauty, this coin has character and unparalleled historic charm. Heavy blows from a blunt instrument have distorted the devices on both sides, but enough detail survives to identify the design. The dark brown surfaces have been well preserved, and the romance of the early Mint enhances every detail.

Provenance. Ex: Woodside Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 4/1892), lot 7; Virgil Brand; Forty-First Catalog (New Netherlands, 9/1953), lot 419; Matt Rothert Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1973), lot 1266; Breen II (Pine Tree, 6/1975), lot 332; Everson and Faught (Bowers and Merena, 6/1988), lot 281.
Part of the The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two. (#11068) Being offered By Heritage at the FUN Signature Sale in Orlando Wednesday, January 7, 2009 as Lot 1504

Unique Items – 1889 $3 Indian Head Three Dollars In Copper

Judd-1756a, Pollock-1970, Unique, PR64 Brown NGC.

The regular issue obverse and reverse design for the three dollar gold piece. Struck in copper with a reeded edge. The first notice of this pattern appeared in Numismatic News, November 26, 1985. This is an attractive Choice proof with rich chocolate-brown and olive color, graced by pale blue toning. Both sides have reflective and partially mirrored fields.

This pattern is believed to be unique and first appeared for sale in the 1987 ANA auction. It is also the only pattern issue produced in 1889, to the best of our knowledge. It is clearly an intentional pattern and not a mint error.

The weight is 76.5 grains (per the 1987 ANA catalog), almost twice the weight of a contemporary cent planchet of that time period. The cataloger of its 1987 appearance wrote: “The proof finish of the coin, and the fact that it was carefully struck on a medal press, with properly adjusted dies so as to produce a high wire edge, precludes the possibility of its being struck in error on a bronze planchet intended for a foreign coin or for some other circulating piece.”

It is also too well made to be a die trial or test piece, thus its intent is not specifically known, but may have been made in response to a special request by a favored collector-customer of the U.S. Mint.

Ex: Bowers and Merena (8/1987), lot 1505; Superior (10/1990). From The Jones Beach Collection. (#62199)

This item sold at Heritage’s 2007 January Orlando, FL (FUN) Signature Coin Auction #422 as Lot 1627 and realized $29,900