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Category: Patterns

Unique Items: Undated (1840) P25C Quarter Dollar Master Die Impression

Judd-110, Pollock-123, Unique

Undated (1840) P25C Quarter Dollar Master Die Impression, Judd-110, Pollock-123Regarded in the past as a hub impression of the modified Gobrecht Seated Liberty design. However, a hub impression would have the design reversed. We believe this is a trial from the master die. This is the With Drapery design that is struck on an oversized planchet. This impression was struck, according to the Judd book, after Robert M. Patterson asked Robert Ball Hughes to prepare a plaster medallion of Gobrecht’s design for use as the basis for a new hub.

After closely examining this piece and even after John Dannreuther examined it, we still have more questions than answers about these two pieces. The Judd-110 appears to have been made on a lathe with fine lines on the blank areas outside the design. Also, each side shows a prominent centering dot. First, while the piece has consistently been termed as brass, it is really brass coated. Close examination shows areas of the central design that show flaking of the brass, notably on the extended arm and torso of Liberty.

Undated (1840) P25C Quarter Dollar Master Die Impression, Judd-110, Pollock-123The underlying core appears to be a base metal, darkish gray in color. Why was it brass coated if it was meant to simulate a quarter? The eagle on the reverse is notably soft around the outline of the eagle’s body. Why would a master die impression lack highpoint detail? Why are the peripheral design elements raised? It appears that a circular inner border was scored in the master die, then the letters were individually punched in–note the unevenness of QUAR. The reverse field is considerably lower and seems to have been polished away from the raised “track” for the peripheral lettering.

To help answer some of these questions, researcher extraordinaire John Dannreuther rendered an extensive opinion on these two pieces.

“When the Contamin portrait lathe was introduced in February 1837, the Mint had only hired engravers as Chief Engravers or as second or assistant engravers … Scot, Kneass, Gobrecht, Gardner, etc. were either plate engravers or other type engravers.

“In late 1839 or early 1840 (I have not pinned down the exact date), Robert Ball Hughes, a sculptor who was famous for the day, was hired to modify Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated design. Thus, we have Judd-110. (more…)

Unique Items: 1878 $5 Liberty Head Half Eagle Pattern – Judd-1570 PCGS PR-65

1878 $5 Liberty Head Half Eagle, Judd-1570, Pollock-1764, Unique, PR65 PCGSA bold, aggressive representation of Liberty shown facing left, her hair combed back and tied in a bun, with a long curl that extends well down the back of the neck. Two ornamental ribbons decorate the top of her head, including one that runs horizontally and proclaims the word LIBERTY in incused letters.

The portrait is framed by the date and by E PLURIBUS UNUM, with the words of this obverse motto separated by pellets or periods. The reverse design features a defiant heraldic eagle grasping an olive branch and three arrows in its talons. The inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN GOD WE TRUST, and FIVE DOL. encompass the eagle. Struck in gold on a thin, reeded edge planchet and a diameter very close to one inch (25.4 mm.), compared to the 21.6 mm. diameter that was standard at the time.

These broad, thin planchets were first suggested by Dr. J.T. Barclay of the U.S. Mint in the mid-1850s and an initial prototype was struck in the form of the 1860 gold half eagle pattern, Judd-271, which has an even larger diameter of 27 mm., equaling that of a ten dollar piece. They were intended as an anti-counterfeiting measure during a period when rising production of gold coins and increased availability of similarly heavy, but contemporarily less valuable platinum metal ignited concern among Mint officials over the potential use of platinum plugs for existing gold coins. This fear, referred to in Mint reports as the “platinum menace,” apparently gained at least mild support in the years following the Civil War, although it eventually proved to be unfounded as a widespread problem.

This piece is plated in the Sotheby’s February 1954 catalog of the King Farouk Collection, and Andrew Pollock noted an earlier pedigree to Waldo C. Newcomer. This is probably the same piece that has an earlier pedigree back to Harold Newlin in 1884. (more…)

Unusual Items: 1792 Birch Cent

Images courtesy of the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian InstitutionThe patterns of 1792 are among the most intriguing stories in the history of U.S. numismatics. Carl Carlson published an extensive article about them in the March 1982 Numismatist. In this lengthy and worthwhile article, he brought together findings from previous researchers who had examined the series, and led in a methodical fashion queries into when the pieces were struck, by whom, and where they were manufactured. The article leaves open several questions, some of which have yet to be resolved. One is the question of which Birch the coin refers to.

There are two varieties of Birch cents: The “regular” design has BIRCH on the bust truncation and is represented by 15-20 pieces today (including both Judd-4 and Judd-5). The other design is a unique white metal specimen with GWPt on the reverse, an abbreviation for “George Washington President.” As superficially different as these two coins appear, they are actually different engraving states of the same die. The two designs are punch-linked, indicating the same person engraved both at about the same time. The obverses are closer in treatment, but the reverses show evidence of considerably more drastic die work.

The half disme and the Birch cent are definitely related and from the same engraver. The half disme is virtually a mirror image of the Birch cent, with Liberty facing left rather than right as on the cent. Carlson’s article makes a clear case for the time frame of the striking of these coins from a December 1792 letter written by Thomas Jefferson. In this letter he implies there were no cents struck in the Mint itself before December, which leaves production of these coins to sometime before October, when the Mint presses were first operational. This leaves only one possibility for the location of the production of the Birch cents: John Harper’s coach house.

The question of just which Birch was actually responsible for these pattern cents has since proven to be not Thomas Birch, previously believed to have engraved the dies. Thomas Birch was born in England in 1779 and was only 13 years old in 1792. It is more likely that William Russell Birch, a famous Philadelphia miniaturist, visited Philadelphia in the spring and summer of 1792, although he only moved his family there in 1794. Carlson lays out the most logical origin of the Birch cent: (more…)

Unusual Items: Unique “Six Cents” Coin

1859 pattern cent. P-3188.An amazing “six-cents” coin, with the obverse of the 1859 Indian cent impressed on the obverse of an 1857 half dime with some of the star, date, and Liberty details visible beneath the Indian type; the reverse, though somewhat flattened, is of the host 1857 half dime.

Called Unique by Pollock in his reference on the series, and no other example has been rumored to exist since the publication of that volume in the 1990s.

At the website, site director Saul Teichman is of a different opinion: “Although listed as an obverse die trial in silver for the 1859 Indian head cent struck over a struck 1857 half dime planchet, it is more likely a mint error in which the struck half dime ended up on top of blank cent planchet resulting in the striking seen above [the present coin is pictured at the website]. The half dime’s date can be seen in the field to the left of the Indian’s face under the STA in STATES.”

Indeed, the PCGS holder states “Mint Error.” A known entity that has been around for some time; perhaps Judd considered this a piece to be a “Mint Error,” and thus did not list it in his seminal work the pattern series.

Anyway you slice it, the present specimen is unique. PCGS Population: 1; no others certified in any grade.

Seavey, Parmelee Collection; Superior’s February 1974, Ruby Collection Lot 1988A; Bowers & Merena, April 1986 Lot 2209.

The Coin is being offered at Auction in Stack’s sale of “The Keusch, Snow & Del Zorro Collections” to be held on November 18-19 in Baltimore, MD.

Unusual Items: Martha Washingtom Die Trials

Martha Washington Die Trial - DimeThe Stacks 73rd Anniversary Sale upcoming on October 22nd has an items in the Patterns” section that many people may never have seen before: 1759 (1965) dime-sized die trial of Martha Washington

Reeded edge. Cupro-nickel and copper “sandwich” composition. Head of Martha Custis Washington to right, VIRGINIA arcs above, name low in right field, date below. Mount Vernon at reverse center, HOME OF THE WASHINGTON FAMILY around. NGC MS-65 Finest Known

This coin is the finest of two examples certified thus far by NGC, the other called AU-58 by that firm, the PCGS population report does not show any with this Judd number. This design also saw the light of day in larger sized “denominations” which are eagerly sought by specialists in today’s pattern series and related areas. The present “dime” sized issue is seen far less often than the other “denominations.”

In May of this year Coin World had an article on Pattern and Experimental coins. Experimental coins are struck from any convenient dies to test a new metal, new alloy or new denomination; those testing a new shape; those testing a standard metal for a new denomination; and those representing changes in planchets for the purposes of combating counterfeiting.

Often the Mint tests compositions with what officials call “nonsense dies.” These dies may bear designs similar in format to designs used for circulating coinage but the designs are not being considered for regular production use, such as a pattern might be. Nonsence Dies are useful in testing things as metal flow and die wear, and the Mint has used various designs for decades. The Martha Washington Design is one of these Nonsence Dies.

Martha Washington “nonsense dies” were used to strike experimental pieces on a number of planchets including on a copper-plated zinc cent planchet; on a copper-nickel clad quarter dollar planchet; on a manganese-brass clad dollar planchet; and of course the above Cupro-nickel dime planchet. (more…)

Unusual Items: 1915 50C Pan-Pac Half Dollar in Gold

1915 50C Pan Pac in Gold1915 50C Panama-Pacific Half Dollar, Judd-1960 (previously Judd-1793), Pollock-2031, R.8, PR64 NGC. Die trial issue of the 1915 Panama-Pacific half before the S mintmark was added. Struck in gold with a reeded edge. This remarkable coin is one of only two pieces known and its illustrious pedigree goes back as far as Virgil Brand.

The story of this coin is best related in the Pollock reference. Pollock had carefully examined the #1 specimen, the Farouk-Norweb coin, but the same history and mysterious circumstances apply to this piece: “…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.

NGC InsertThis 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 if 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. 2 in our census (this piece), is reportedly also struck over a cut down $20 gold piece.”

Close examination shows fine file marks that presumably would have effaced the design of the double eagle. However, a small remnant of the undertype survives on the reverse with a faint trace of what appears to be an O and a period to its left, located between the H in HALF and U of UNITED.

Ex: Virgil Brand; B.G. Johnson; Celina Coin Co.; A. Friedman; 1979 ANA Sale (New England, 7/79), lot 1365, where it realized an amazing $27,000.
From The Sound Beach Collection. (#62267)

Sold in the Heritage 2003 November Signature Sale #334 Lot 11252 for $165,000

Unusual Items: 1903 Louisiana Purchase Cardboard Die Trial

Die Trial on Cardboard 1903 Louisiana PurchaseEditors Note: Every now and then we come across a numismatic items that we might have heard about but never seen, or in some instances had no knowledge of at all. This of course may be more of a function of our limited expertise than the fact that the item(s) is truly unique. So at the risk of being called a “dumb ass” (not the first time), we are going to create a new News category called “Unusual Items“. This will be an eclectic collection of the not-so-common items we stumble across during our daily search for worthwhile news and articles, and we hope that you will find this as informative and entertaining as we do.

These impressions in yellow cardboard measure 40 x 32 mm and show the obverse imprints of both the Jefferson and McKinley gold dollars with a slightly different pattern reverse.

Andrew Pollock assigned two numbers for this piece, apparently believing the obverses were on one card and the reverses on another. They should have received only one number.

NGC Holder with Cardboard Die TralThere are two examples known, but the second is very different from this piece. The other contains both obverses and six different reverses. That piece is permanently impounded in the Smithsonian.

This is the only cardboard impression available to collectors.

Cardboard impressions are obviously rare but they date back to 1849 for the gold dollar. Other impressions include the 1851 three cent silver, and the Isabella quarter (obverse and reverse). The reason for the Isabella strikings is evident from the writing on the back of each card: They are first strikings from the new dies. One might easily assume the gold dollar and three cent silver impressions were for the same purpose.

The purpose here is somewhat more enigmatic. With a pattern reverse included on this card, it is likely this was produced before the first day of issue, as a first day of issue would surely have included the adopted reverse.

The cardboard has a rich, deep gold color, obviously meant to suggest the gold dollars that were soon to be struck. Deeply impressed. Regarding condition, this piece is essentially as struck with no scratches or surface problems worthy of mention.

Used with Permission from CoinLink Content Partner Mike ByersMint Error News 

POST ANA-LATE AUGUST Market Report by Legend Numismatics

By Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics

J-0147 G$1 1852 NGC PR66RBAs we stated in our last Market Report, we were having trouble gauging where the market is. From our vantage point we see some very interesting happenings. It is still hard for us to see the exact direction the market is going. BUT we do NOT see it crashing or making a major overall adjustment right now.

Big money collectors are still in the game-however they are clearly shifting their goals. We have seen many cashing out “lesser” coins and reinvesting (for lack of a better word) in to rarer more quality orieinted coins. By that we mean if a player had a $1 82CC in MS66, he sold it and bought something like a GEM Bust Quarter (if one had been around). In the past 2 weeks since the ANA, we have been able to outright purchase (or recieve on consignment) at least $2 MILLION dollars worth of coins. That is something we have never experienced at this time of the year. It was weird, we’d do one deal then the next day out of the blue another would come up and we’d be flying out. Of course right after ANA is usally the worst time to sell, but people didn’t seem to care as they questioned the future or had other coins they wanted to buy now. Not one person who sold told us they needed the money to pay bills (although one person did mention taxes). Most were shifting focus or assets.

Collectors seem very skeptical about buying unless a coin is super rare, has over the top quality for the grade, and is a must buy for their specific collection. We do not see many impulse purchases happening right now from collectors. The real danger, is we do see substantial INVESTOR purchasing occuring. We can sell MILLIONS to the telemarketers who deal with them or the 2 big funds that are out there. We have had several INVESTORS call us direct and requested we build them portfolios. INVESTORS are funny, they won’t just buy anything, but when they find the “right” coin or hear the ‘right” numbers about it, the checks fly! Our sales since ANA have been incredibly strong-but then we also have a supply of fresh, truely rare, and neat coins, while many other dealers do not. We still will pay what it takes to buy certain coins because we know what is NOT available. And yes, we are still looking for that NON 1926/1932 PCGS MS65 CAC stickered $10 Indian. (more…)

Superb Gem 1879 $4 Stella – In aluminum

1879 pattern $4. J-1640, P-1840. Rarity-7+. Coiled Hair. Proof-67 CAMWhat about rarity? This is the only example ever graded by NGC—in any grade!

What about grade? Consider Proof-67 Cameo!

What about fame? The $4 Stella is one of the most heralded of American rarities, and among the two designs, the Coiled Hair, by George T. Morgan, is the rarer.

All set to cross the auction block in Stacks Baltimore sale is this rarest of the rare pattern, Judd-1640, a glittering Proof in aluminum—a rare format even more elusive that an gold impression.

Here is some background, from Dave Bowers’ Whitman book on type coins (excerpt, adapted):

The $4 Stella

The Stella or $4 gold coin is among the most famous and desired of American rarities. The vast majority were struck in gold, with just a few in other metals. The presently offered aluminum striking provides the opportunity for some historical information:

The $4 piece was the brainchild of Hon. John A. Kasson, who had served as a minister to Austria. In Europe coins of slightly less value than the American $5 piece (the British gold sovereign being but one of many examples) were popular in trade. Kasson thought that an American $4 piece would serve as an international medium of exchange. This stands as one of many such notions that reached pattern coin form, but never resulted in issues made for general circulation. Others include the international $5 of 1868 and Dana Bickford’s impressive $10 of 1874. (more…)

Lear Capital Assembles World’s Finest Known $4 Stella Gold Coin Set

4 Coin Four Dollar Stella SetLear Capital, the West Los Angeles- based precious metals company has assembled the world’s finest known $4 gold coin set that includes four of all the finest known Stella coins. A collector has commissioned the four coins to create one of the most expensive sets available. The set is valued at more than $6.5 million.

To complete the set, Lear spent three years trying to obtain an 1880 Coiled Hair Four Dollar Stella for its client, a prominent New York businessman who collects rare coins. Lear obtained the “Four Dollar Stella” in late 2007. As one-of-only-eight known, this 1880 Coiled Hair Four Dollar Stella is the finest known and valued at more than $3 million.

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the official grading service of the American Numismatic Association and a provider of third-party coin grading services, graded all four coins. The set can be viewed online at

“We relied upon the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and their expertise in grading to help assemble the finest known set and it has been an honor working side-by-side with such professionals,” says Kevin DeMeritt, president of Lear Capital. “It is a gorgeous and impressive set that contains so much American history.”

The “Four Dollar Stella” completes a set that contains an 1879 Flowing Hair (425 known), 1879 Coiled Hair (12 known), and an 1880 Flowing Hair (17 known). The set contains the finest known examples of each date.

The Four Dollar Stella (From NGC)

Stellas are four-dollar pattern coins. They are remnants of a move to recognize the Latin Monetary Union, an alliance of member nations which agreed to create an international coinage. While the US never formally joined, several efforts were made to conform US coinage to standards used more broadly. One visible step, for example, was to normalize US coinage with the metric scale by making a modest weight change on US silver coinage. The change was indicated on our silver coins by surrounding the date with arrows — creating the With Arrows type coins of 1873 and 1874. (more…)

PCGS Guidance – Sacagawea Cheerios Dollars

Cheerios Original packagingAs part of an effort in 1999 to promote the new Sacagawea Dollars, General Mills scattered 5,500 specially-packaged 2000-dated Sacagawea Dollars among 10 million boxes of Cheerios cereal. Five years later, it was discovered that the so-called “Cheerios” Dollars were actually from a different reverse die type.

Some experts consider these pattern coins; others have called them “Reverse of 1999”. PCGS has labeled them “Cheerios FS-401”, referring to the source and the reference number from the Fivaz-Stanton “Cherrypicker” guide.

Because of the perceived rarity of the Reverse of 1999 and the assumption that all “Cheerios” Dollars bore the Reverse of 1999, the demand for these coins has increased and the coins themselves have become quite valuable.

However, PCGS experts recently opened a sealed “Cheerios” package only to find out that the Dollar contained in the package was of a normal, Reverse of 2000 die type.

The package appeared to be authentic and showed no evidence of tampering. A similar experience has been reported by another grading service. Thus, one may no longer assume that the Dollars in the Cheerios packages are of the rare, Reverse of 1999.

Because the “Cheerios” Dollars are packaged obverse up, the reverse cannot be seen. An obverse die marker has been identified on some “Cheerios” Dollars and may assist in identifying Reverse of 1999 Dollars in sealed packages. The die marker consists of die polish extending into the field from Sacagawea’s wrap immediately below and to the left of the mintmark. Whether this die marker is diagnostic of the Reverse of 1999 Sacagawea Dollars remains to be seen. (more…)


Republished with Permission from

Sac Dollars Cheerios PatternA previously known, but unacknowledged, Cheerios Dollar without the “pattern” reverse was given more credibility when a second one was certified by NGC in April 2008. The first piece, in a PCI holder, was known as early as 2005. However, due to the problems that PCI was having, no one took it seriously at the time.

Fast forward to April 2008 when a collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, owned not one, but two Cheerios Dollars in their original Cheerios packaging.

The owner states, “I got one of the two coins out of a box of Cheerios and bought the other one at a flee market back in 2001-2002 and they have been sitting in my dresser drawer ever since until I found out what they might be worth.”

Cheerios Original PackagingDeciding to capitalize on them, he send both to NGC for authentication and grading.

Upon their return he was surprised to find that one was not labeled as a “Pattern” as the other one was. Checking the reverse he found that it did in fact not exhibit the detailed tail feathers as the “pattern” piece did. Concerned if a “non-pattern” Cheerios Dollar was possible or was previously known to exist, the collector contacted this web site.

We in turn contacted accomplished numismatist Tom DeLorey, who was instrumental in the original discovery of the Cheerios “Pattern” Dollar. Being as surprised as we were, Mr. DeLorey contacted NGC to verify the piece.

In response NGC said, “The report that you received is entirely factual. NGC did receive a Cheerios dollar in original packaging and the coin was not the pattern reverse. This was confirmed by Rick Montgomery and Dave Camire. Dave Camire, in fact, opened the packaging.”

WOW!!! The Sacagawea Dollar series never ceases to amaze. Years after their release, new discoveries keep popping up. How could this one have happen?

Mr. DeLorey has come up with a possible scenario. Keep in mind that this scenario is pure speculation. We’ll probably never know for sure how a “non-pattern” coin was placed in a Cheerios package. (more…)

Rare Australian Pattern Penny to Highlight May Roxbury Sale

By Kerry Rodgers, World Coin News

1937 Australian Uniface Penny PatternCollectors of pattern coins and trials need to take a long hard look at Roxbury’s catalog for the firm’s May 22 Queensland auction. It includes an Australian classic, an example of the 1937 uniface, reverse and pattern for Australia’s penny showing a bounding kangaroo (SCWC Pn24).

This was the first time this Australian icon had appeared – by itself – on any Commonwealth coin. It would remain as the reverse design for the penny and halfpenny until 1964. At the Royal Mint a series of different patterns were struck of Kruger Gray’s incisive but simple design. All are excessively rare with very few in private hands. The Standard Catalog entry for this item does not differentiate between the four possible patterns.

The uniface version comes with the word MODEL across the coin’s obverse as shown here. However, it exists with both a hole drilled in the planchet or unholed. The 2007 edition of Renniks Australian Coin and Banknote Values give the mintage of the uniface “model’ as 8 and with a value as A$110,000. However, this catalog does not distinguish holed from unholed.

Read Full Numismaster Article Here 

English Gold Pattern Coins to be Auctioned

Pattern Crown of George III: The A rare and important collection of English gold ‘pattern’ coins last seen on the market in 1904 is due to go under the hammer in Plymouth.

The 44 coins had been locked in a vault until recently when their Plymouth owner – a descendant of Evan Roberts who bought them 104 years ago – decided to sell them.

Auctioneer Paul Keen, of Plymouth Auction Rooms, said he expected the coins to sell for thousands of pounds.

“In 1904 a Mr Evan Roberts purchased various rare gold coins from the Sotheby’s major four-day auction of the collection of Mr J G Murdoch, at the time the coins were selling for between £4 and £9. They’re now worth thousands. Mr Roberts was an important collector of pocket watches at the time. In fact, his collection was given to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where curators produced a special book just for his collection.

A pattern is a coin designed and proposed for use as regular currency. Apart from genuine trial pieces there were various non-issue pattern coins produced privately which gave full rein to the engraver’s skills.

These coins were made in silver, copper, bronze and gold.

A total of 44 high-quality gold coins are on offer including a rare George III pattern twopence by William J Taylor. It was made in 1805, weighs 62 grams and its value is estimated at £3,000 to £5,000. (more…)


France. Third Republic (1871-1940). Gold 5 Francs. 1889-AIRVINE, Calif. – Bowers and Merena Auctions, America’s leading rare coin auction house, delighted World coin enthusiasts in Baltimore and across the globe on March 1 with an action-packed special session of World/Ancient Coins as part of their first of three Official Auctions of the Baltimore Coin and Currency Convention for 2008. The World session was the grand finale of the four-session auction that realized a total of $9,764,934 and saw more than 3,200 lots cross the auction block. The World/Ancient session realized $2,155,414.

“I have to say we are ecstatic with the results of this Baltimore auction, and especially the World session,” said Steve Deeds, president of Bowers and Merena. “Our worldwide marketing and advertising efforts helped draw hundreds of japan 2 Shu Gold and Silvernew international registered bidders to Bowers and Merena and really created a buzz throughout the global numismatic community. I was thrilled to see many foreign dealers and collectors who actually made the trip to Baltimore for live bidding.” Dealers and collectors were welcomed from France, Italy, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Colombia, as well as the United States.

Additionally, Deeds attributes the overwhelming success of this World session to a variety of other factors, as well. “We took full advantage of available means of bidding in order to make it as convenient as possible for our international and even domestic customers who could not be in the room with us. We had very active phone bidding, plus live online bidding through the Bowers and Merena website, eBay Live Auctions and Proxibid, which were all very successful. The convention itself was outstanding as usual thanks to the undying efforts of Mary Counts, David Crenshaw and the Whitman team, which certainly kept the auction room full and very exciting.”

The featured draw of the World session was no doubt the “Carl F. Chirico Jr. Collection of World Pattern Coins,” 741 lots of worldwide Proofs, Patterns, Essais, Provas, Pieforts, and Trial Strikes from China, Belgium, Cambodia, France, Germany, Italy, Latin America, and Europe, which realized $2,028,278.

“This was the largest collection of Patterns, Essais and Trial Strikes sold in the United States in the past 30 or 40 years,” (more…)

Unusual Items in Orlando Auctions

by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

unusual items auctioned in OrlandoOf course, in Orlando, mainstream U.S. coins received more bids and attention than unusual numismatic items. After all, the Winter FUN Convention bourse, the official Heritage auction, and the pre-convention auctions altogether amount to the premier event of the year for high quality U.S. coins. Nevertheless, it is worth noting, and curious, that very unusual items realized high prices and generated much conversation this year. These items are well outside the paths that U.S. coin collectors tend to follow.

As I just wrote an article about it, I will not here discuss the Madison Collection’s 1792 ‘fusible alloy’ cent pattern, which is certainly cool and unusual. It sold, during Heritage’s Platinum Night event of Jan. 10, for $603,750.

The Proof 1876-CC dime is also something cool and unusual that will not be explained here. It may be the only Proof Carson City Mint dime. Please see my pre-auction article about this 1876-CC dime. At the Superior Auction in Orlando, on Jan. 5, a central New Jersey dealer was the successful bidder. He later sold a half interest in this dime to Rare Coin Wholesalers. It realized an impressive $178,250. (more…)

Historically Important 1792 Cent Pattern Sells

by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

On Thursday, Jan. 10, in Orlando, an extremely rare pattern cent was auctioned. It is historically important as a central component in the series of the events that brought about the first widely circulating, official coinage of the United States. The auction of this 1792 cent pattern for $603,750 set auction records in several categories, as will be discussed below.

Photos and descriptions used with permission and courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries

Matthew Kleinsteuber, an analyst and buyer for NFC Coins, examines most American coins in almost all major auctions. Kleinsteuber declares that this 1792 pattern “is a priceless historical artifact that is worth whatever a serious collector of Americana can afford to pay.” It “relates to the beginnings of America’s coinage and the struggles of the early years of America as a new nation.”

This 1792 cent pattern is of the so-called ‘fusible alloy’ issue, though it might not be made of a ‘fusible alloy’ at all. The considered idea was to seamlessly combine (fuse) silver and copper into an alloy.

Before ‘fusible alloy’ patterns, there were minted silver-center cent patterns. A small drop of silver was placed in the center of an otherwise copper cent. The bullion value of the silver was three-fourths of one cent while the surrounding copper was worth one-fourth of a cent. Hence, each cent with a silver-center would be worth one cent, not by decree, but by metallic or bullion content. (more…)

Rare British Columbia Coins in Million-Dollar Deal

British Columbia 1862 Gold $20 pattern from the Sid and Alicia Belzberg collectionSome of Canada’s greatest numismatic rarities have remained in Canadian hands. This happened when after a staggering five British Columbia (B.C.) patterns changed hands in a million-dollar deal.

At the end of August, Ian Laing of Gatewest Coin Ltd. in Winnipeg, Man., and Sandy Campbell of Proof Positive, from Baddeck, NS, jointly bought a silver $10 and $20 coin, a gold $10 and two gold $20 patterns from Sid and Alicia Belzberg. The Belzberg Canadian collection was noted for having one of everything, patterns included, but excluded the modern era.

The private treaty sale was brokered by Heritage Galleries, who conducted the Belzberg sale in New York City in 2003. With the exception of one of the $20 gold patterns, the B.C. coins were included in that sale, but did not make the reserve. All the patterns are dated 1862.

In mid-September, Tony Mah, of Vancouver Coin and Stamp Ltd., purchased the silver coins, and one of the gold $20 items by private treaty for about $500,000. Read Full Story By Bret Evans

Learning from the Simpson Collection

1874 Ten Dollar Pattern from The Simpson CollectionLessons Gleaned from the Most Valuable Collection of US Pattern Coinage

When first reported, last month’s $30+ million sale of pattern coins was certainly newsworthy. It is the largest single private treaty rare coin transaction to date. For many collectors, pattern coins typically fall outside the mainstream of US numismatics. They are, however, always lauded for their beauty and rarity. But this sale is even more special because of how long it has been since there was a similar transaction of pattern coins to which it can be compared.

In fact, one must go back nearly 100 years to uncover a similar sale of pattern coins, which, as it turns out, is one of numismatics’ most storied transactions. In 1909, prominent collector William H. Woodin purchased two $50 Half Union patterns struck in gold for a then unprecedented sum of $20,000. The seller was the former coiner and superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint, Col. A Loudon Snowden. Some controversy surrounded the private ownership of these coins, which were unique and now the world’s most valuable. Mint Director A. Piatt Andrew wanted the coins returned to the Mint’s collection. Read Full Story

Bowers and Merena to Auction Thousands of World Coins in Baltimore Next February

Centerpiece of World Auction is “Carl F. Chirico Jr. Collection of World Pattern Coins”

French pattern IRVINE, Calif. – Bowers and Merena Auctions, America’s leading rare coin auction house, continues as Official Auctioneer of the Baltimore Coin and Currency Convention in 2008, with the next auction scheduled for February 27 to March 2, 2008. For their first of three Baltimore auctions in 2008, Bowers and Merena will host a very special session of World coins, highlighted by the “Carl F. Chirico Jr. Collection of World Pattern Coins.”

The Chirico Collection will be offered in multiple lots and features more than 2,500 worldwide Proofs, Patterns, Essais, Provas, Pieforts, and Trial Strikes, including:

China. Over 40 Chinese Republic Dollars including all six Sun Yat-sen Pattern “Junk” Dollars; a Mausoleum
Dollar; a General Chu Yu-pu Dollar; 2 Dollars signed “L. Giorgi;” as well as off metal strikes and minor patterns. (more…)

Inside Look at a $30 Million Dollar Coin Deal

Editors Note: Below is a glimpse into the $30 Million dollar Legend Numismatics Pattern Deal posted on the “Hot Topics” section of the Legend Numismatics Web Site. Congratulations to both George and Laura, as well as both the Buyer and Seller. A remarkable collection.

1872 $20 Barber's Amazonian Head Double Eagle” First I’d like thank our customer who has the resources, love of coins, and vision for allowing us to work with him and build his already great collection into one of the greatest collections ever formed. We view his legacy as our legacy as well and have always worked hard to make his collection the best it can be while letting him enjoy the thrill of building it. He has been a good friend to Legend and it has been a dream to work with him. We are proud to have worked with him on this recent acquisition of a major Pattern collection that is valued well in excess of $30,000,000.00!

Our friend began collecting Patterns about 4 years ago. A Stacks Rothschild Collection catalog with some Amazonian silver patterns caught his eye. So he directed me to attend, evaluate, and buy them (the sale was all raw coins). We did very well and got the grades we calculated. I think his favorite coin purchased was a silver Amazonian Half in GEM. The Bickford $10 Gold Pattern (which he now owns) was one of the highlights of the sale, but he was not focused at the time on Gold Patterns.

Between then and now, when really rare and pretty Patterns came up, we’d be instructed to view them and buy them if we liked them. The majority of Patterns we bought were copper. We would “cherry pick” through major Pattern auctions (like the Millennium Sale and this years FUN Sale) to get the best pieces. We’d figure our numbers, but in the end, we’d always stretch to buy the really special pieces. Before we bought this huge collection of 1000 pieces, we had already built a collection with 400 coins. (more…)

Legend Numismatics Arranges $30+ Million Sale of Pattern Coins

Unique 1872 Amazonian set in goldThe world’s largest private transaction involving a rare coin collection has been brokered by Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey on behalf of a Western states collector who purchased an extensive collection of United States pattern coins.

“The collection contains more than 1,000 pattern coins including the unique 1872 Amazonian gold set. The total purchase price for the collection was in excess of $30 million. That shatters the record for the largest private sale of one person’s collection ever reported in numismatic history,” said Laura Sperber, a partner in Legend.

The seller wants to remain anonymous. The buyer, who is only identified as “Mr. Simpson,” will merge his current pattern collection with the new purchase and rename it the “Simpson Pattern Collection.”

“Mr. Simpson has been quietly building collections of the finest and prettiest coins through Legend for the past five years. He’s a connoisseur for coins with eye-appeal, and he’s become one of the greatest collectors of our generation,” said Sperber.

No specific venues or dates have been selected yet, but Simpson and Legend Numismatics plan to publicly exhibit some of the pattern pieces at various coin shows around the country.

Simpson now has the only complete collection of Amazonian pattern coins in all metals: gold, copper, aluminum and gilt. The impressive pedigree of the six gold coins includes former U.S. Treasury Secretary William Woodin; news media executive F.C.C. Boyd; Egyptian King Farouk; numismatic researcher and patterns reference book author Dr. J. Hewitt Judd; noted patterns collector Dr. John E. Wilkison; and industrialist Ed Trompeter. The denominations of the unique gold coins are $1; $2.50 (Quarter Eagle); $3; $5 (Half Eagle); $10 (Eagle); and $20 (Double Eagle). (more…)

All-Time Finest Collection of Private & Territorial Gold Patterns

by Greg Reynolds, a CoinLink exclusive report

1849 Cincinnati Mining & Trading Company Pattern $20 The Robert Bass collection of Private & Territorial gold patterns, die trials and related pieces is the all-time finest in this field. Bass started buying territorial gold coins and patterns in the 1960s. He sold his collection of territorial gold in 1999. He was too emotionally attached to his territorial patterns, however, to part with them, until 2006 when he had to deal with personal and health problems.

Don Kagin reports that he purchased this collection from Robert Bass “more than one year ago.” It has taken a long time to inventory, weigh, research and prepare a catalogue of the items. Kagin emphasizes that a featured trio are “three unique Humbert $50 pieces” that were previously in the legendary Bushnell and Garrett family collections.

Items from more than thirty private mints or prospective mints are in the Bass collection. Eleven of these may never have minted gold coins.

This Bass collection contains 179 pieces. For about eighty-three of these, fewer than five pieces are known. Even more startling is that, of these eighty-three or so, more than fifty of them are unique, meaning just one piece is known to exist today. (more…)