The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection - Part I



Patterns - Lots 1001-1025


 

United States

Pattern Coins

The Bass Collection Patterns

Pattern coins formed a special area of interest for Harry W. Bass, Jr. He enjoyed studying the pieces under magnification, comparing specimens with each other, and relating them to descriptions and plates in the many auction catalogues in his library. In 1993-4 he hosted Andrew W. Pollock III and Cathy Dumont of our staff during a memorable visit to Dallas in which many of his patterns were discussed, viewed, and photographed as a part of the volume, United States Patterns and Related Issues, published in the latter year.

To Harry, the more complex a subject, the more interesting. Thus, among patterns I (QDB) recall that he found the issues of the 1870s to be fascinating inasmuch as there were certain die varieties among limited-production pieces of which just a handful were struck. He never quite figured out-nor has anyone else before or since-why certain 1878 Morgan dollar obverse dies differ from each other in truly minute differences, or why among William Barber's pattern dollars of the same date, there should be multiple dies such as those described by Pollock as P-1733 through P-1746. Certainly, the dies did not shatter, so as to require new ones to be made. Certainly, the differences among the dies are so small that today it takes a knowledgeable numismatist to discern them; thus, a congressman or someone else studying the basic design in 1878 would have noticed no difference at all.

Of course, the quintessential aspects of pattern coins-the secrets they still keep regarding their origins, purposes, and, in many instances, their engravers-are what contribute largely to the excitement that such coins provide to numismatists today. Despite several excellent book-length studies of patterns and many fine auction catalogue descriptions, there is much remaining to contemplate, to be discovered. Here and there among the following descriptions, notes are made of such possibilities.

Harry Bass had a connoisseur's eye for quality. He also had a keen sense of opportunity. Thus, by studying the pattern series he knew full well whether to reach to acquire a piece because it might never be offered again, even though it might not be a gem (an instance is provided by the copper striking of the curious Bailly trade dollar pattern, P-1427, a cleaned coin, but one that is believed to be the only extant piece in private hands). And, he knew that if other opportunities might occur, he could bide his time until a gem came within his reach, then his grasp (as in the magnificent quality Coiled Hair pattern dollars by George T. Morgan, 1879-1880).

The following presentation of pattern coins consigned by the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Research Foundation is memorable and is the result of over three decades of connoisseurship. In addition, representative examples of pattern issues have been retained by the Foundation and will be described by us in the sylloge or catalogue raisonné to be published in the year 2000.

In nearly every instance, the Bass Collection coins represent either great rarity or great quality, and often a combination of both. In addition to the basic numismatic descriptions and commentaries, some historical vignettes have been included, which may be read or skipped over by the reader, as desired.

An Appreciation of the Pattern Series

Patterns represent the minted story of what might have been, but wasn't, in American coinage. Coins with holes at the center in the Oriental style (the 1850 annular or ring cent is an example), suggested but never adopted series (the lightweight Standard Silver issues of 1869-1870), special purpose coins (the Postage Currency redemption 10-cent pieces of 1863), and others are fascinating to study and own today.

Still other issues were made to test designs or motifs, such as the William Barber Sailor Head 20-cent pattern of 1875 which, in actuality is not much different from one of his 1873 trade dollar pattern motifs; George T. Morgan's elegant Schoolgirl silver dollar of 1879 (said by some to be the most beautiful coin in the American series, tentatively called by us a petition dollar in our description), Longacre's Indian Princess designs which were struck after he died and which were later improved (not really) by his successor, William Barber, and others each have their own stories.

Among American coins of the 19th century, there were two standard mottos: E PLURIBUS UNUM and IN GOD WE TRUST. Even though few people ever knew the meaning of E PLURIBUS UNUM, it was thought to be absolutely necessary on any coin with a diameter large enough to include it. Similarly, the word LIBERTY was a must use on a given die. Regarding the Deity, although IN GOD WE TRUST was adopted in 1864 (first used that year on the circulating two-cent piece) and has not been changed since, there were a lot of other ideas that fell by the wayside, including GOD AND OUR COUNTRY, UNION & LIBERTY, and GOD OUR TRUST being three examples. On the other hand, a curious and exceedingly rare pattern trade dollar of 1876 (P-1624) gives the viewer a choice of mottos expressing faith in the Supreme Being: IN GOD WE TRUST on the obverse and GOD OUR TRUST on the reverse!

Sometimes, pattern coins had the same motto expressed twice, as on the 1885 dollar patterns with E PLURIBUS UNUM on the obverse die and, for good measure, on the reverse as well. Thus, anyone not knowing the meaning of this motto had two opportunities to think about it!

Further patterns were made to test metals and alloys. Prominent are the various five-cent issues of 1883 with different proportions of nickel and silver and a few early aluminum issues when that metal was semiprecious (before electrolytic refining became a reality) and was considered as a silver substitute. Of course, the rule is often the exception when it comes to patterns, and the present commentary would not be complete unless we mentioned that the series includes many Standard Silver coins that are struck in copper or aluminum, etc. If Robert Ripley had wanted to make a Believe It Or Not Museum of Numismatics, he could have saved a lot of time by simply acquiring patterns!

Some patterns are mulings -combinations of dies that would never have served for coinage purposes, such as the obverse of a silver dollar with the reverse of a trade dollar-or in one dramatic instance in the Bass Collection, the obverse of a $20 gold motif and the reverse of a trade dollar (P-1431, at once a great rarity and a coin that defies all logic).

New monetary standards and ideas saw fruition among patterns, sometimes later reaching the circulating series, but sometimes not. The goloid metric alloy and related dollars were a bright idea circa 1878-1880, and many patterns were produced, but no such coins were ever made for circulation. Ditto for the ideas of Dana Bickford and others regarding coins that could be traded internationally, instead of just within the borders of our nation.

Rounding out the general category of patterns are special pieces that were struck for sale to numismatists, often unofficially and as a way to provide a few extra dollars in the pockets of Mint insiders. We can mention the numismatically enlightened James Ross Snowden, who served as director of the Mint 1853-1861, and who did much to advance a fine relationship between collectors and the Mint. We can also mention Henry Richard Linderman, M.D., who served as director at a later time, who was a brilliant man and a numismatist, but who had a devious twist to his character-as public officials in positions of authority sometimes have-and who commissioned his minions to strike rarities for his personal collection, while disseminating much misleading and false information to numismatic scholars, collectors, and dealers who asked what the heck was going on.

In the "Who? Me? I would never do such a thing!" department falls a letter written on December 14, 1871, by Chief Coiner Archibald Loudon Snowden to rare coin dealer Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., stating, in part: "There are no regular coinage or pattern dies in the Mint, of any denomination whatsoever, except those dated 1871." Snowden reported that shortly after becoming chief coiner, he had found a group of coins that had been labeled years earlier by Franklin Peale. "It was not a complete series of dies, but it embraced either as hubs or dies all the rare pattern pieces executed by Mr. Gobrecht and others. Among the number were several from which no pieces are known to have been struck. Many of the devices were beautiful in design and exquisite in execution. This was particularly the case with a dollar and a half dollar hub by Gobrecht." Snowden said that in the spring of 1869 he consulted with Director Linderman, and "I had them all defaced by heating the forge and use of the sledge; of this large number of dies and hubs, not a single one was ever used to strike a single impression since I have held the office of chief coiner." However, as is well known to any reader of the Adams-Woodin, Judd, or Pollock texts on patterns, earlier dies somehow survived this commendable housecleaning, and, for example, dies used to coin silver dollar reverses in the 1840-1865 era somehow were on hand as late as 1876!

Today, by careful study of die states and characteristics, it is sometimes possible to sort out the intent and purpose of a given pattern. Sometimes-but not too often-the production of such pieces is documented by surviving Mint correspondence preserved in the National Archives. In recent decades, scholars such as Walter H. Breen, Don Taxay, and R.W. Julian have made extensive use of this research. In still fewer instances, congressional documents relate to patterns, the goloid metric dollars of 1878-1880 being an example.

Studying the die characteristics of pattern coins is a fascinating pursuit. It does not strain credulity to state that while the present catalogue took a lot of time and effort to prepare, an additional year could have been spent, and not all available knowledge would have been gained. This reflects that today the field is rich with interesting dies, coins, and history inviting discovery and study.

Only in relatively recent times has a sharp focus been given to how dies were made, including the use of hubs, working dies, master dies, galvanos, plasters, punch elements, etc. In the pattern series very little has reached print concerning such seemingly arcane, but numismatically important characteristics as the styles of lettering, the condition and deterioration of various element punches, the preparation of dies (the unaware often confuse raised die lines present during the coining process with recessed hair lines acquired by a coin years later), etc.

As a general rule, patterns made specifically for numismatists were struck from carefully polished Proof dies and are deeply mirrorlike. Patterns struck for true pattern purposes-to test various concepts-were often made from hastily finished dies showing many raised parallel striae or die lines, crisscrossed raised lines, etc. There is no line of demarcation, as, of course, a true pattern die used later to strike numismatic delicacies would still show characteristics of being hastily made.

Collecting Patterns

A few comments about collecting patterns may be of interest, although related notes are inserted among our descriptions of the Bass coins.

Patterns have been actively collected for many decades. Although Robert Coulton Davis, a Philadelphia druggist, published a check list of pattern varieties in 1885 and 1886, it was not until 1913 that a master work on the series appeared, that being United States Pattern, Trial, and Experimental Pieces, with photographs by Edgar H. Adams and text by William H. Woodin, the book appearing under the imprint of the American Numismatic Society.

The Adams-Woodin volume remained the standard for many years and was reprinted several times, including by Ohio dealer James F. Kelly. Meanwhile, Lee F. Hewitt, publisher of the Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, took a strong interest in the series and published much information including a guide to prices by Col. James Curtis.

In the 1940s Abe Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg, trading as the Numismatic Gallery, acquired privately the pattern collection of F.C.C. Boyd and sold most of it to King Farouk of Egypt (the Farouk coins were later auctioned by the Egyptian government in Cairo in 1954). Kosoff came to appreciate and study patterns and to make a specialty of them. During the 1950s he encouraged his friend and pattern-buying client, Dr. J. Hewitt Judd of Omaha, to assemble data about patterns, particularly regarding information notgiven in Adam-Woodin. Meanwhile, in partnership with Sol Kaplan, a Cincinnati dealer, Kosoff acquired a vast private stock of patterns from the Farouk auction and from undistributed quantities from the estate of Woodin.

In 1959 Dr. Judd's new book on patterns was copyrighted, and distribution took place over the next several years. Somewhat parroting the Adams-Woodin title, it bore United States Pattern, Experimental and Trial Pieces, and went through seven editions, the last several of which were distributed by our firm. The Judd book gave much information about die varieties, date positions, etc., enlarging considerably upon the old Adams-Woodin text, although most of the pictures remained the same. Harry Bass, Walter Breen, Tom DeLorey, Rogers M. Fred, Jr., Andrew W. Pollock III, Don Taxay, Sol Teichman, the present writer (QDB), and others did and in some instances are still doing extensive research on patterns, much of which has reached print in articles, in books about general U.S. coins (apart from those specifically about patterns), in auction catalogues, and in price lists.

The most recent book-length addition to the fund of knowledge is Andrew W. Pollock III's United States Patterns and Related Issues, published in 1994. Mr. Pollock (at the time a staff numismatist for Bowers and Merena Galleries), utilized the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Research Foundation coins extensively in his studies, which occupied several years before the volume reached print.

As an addition to the appreciation of pattern coins, biographical notes are given concerning engravers whose dies are included in the present listing.

Credits: The editor (QDB) catalogued many of the pieces as did Mark Borckardt. Saul Teichman provided pedigree information for certain issues. Photography was by Douglas Plasencia. The entire Bowers and Merena organization helped with research and facilitation.

Engravers of Pattern Dies

The following biographies represent engravers and designers, mostly employed at the Philadelphia Mint, whose work is known to have appeared on pattern coins in our presentation of the Bass Collection. Notes emphasize the patterns created, but in most instances the artists made dies for medals and other works of art as well.

JOSEPH ALEXIS BAILLY

Bailly, Joseph Alexis. Bailly, who has been chronicled but lightly in the annals of American numismatics, is the putative designer of certain 1873 pattern trade dollar dies and 1874 twenty-cent patterns, following a commission by Mint Director James Pollock, although such dies are not signed by him. An examination of such dies suggests that if Bailly did the work, it only related to the obverse motifs of Miss Liberty, not to the creation of the complete die elements.

Bailly was born in Paris on January 21, 1823, the son of Joseph Philider Bailly, maker of fine furniture. In 1848, parlous times in French history, Joseph A. Bailly was a member of the Garde Mobile unit, but shot his captain, and was forced to flee the country, eventually reaching New Orleans, where there was a large French Quarter, still famous today. He did work there and in Buenos Aires and New York City before settling in Philadelphia with his wife, Louisa, a French lady whom he married in 1850. For the next 30 or so years he created many plaques, portraits, statues, and, it is said, medals, although information concerning the latter is sparse at best. Francis Pessolano-Filos cites the belief that among the designs he made was the obverse of the A. Loudon Snowden dateless medal struck in 1883, although this does not seem to be confirmed by R.W. Julian's magisterial text on the subject, Medals of the United States Mint; the First Century, 1792-1892, published in 1977.

Bailly sculpted statues of several famous Americans including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and U.S. Grant. At the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, his equestrian statue of President Guzman Blanco on Venezuela was on view, after which it was removed to Caracas, the location of another Bailly statue of the same man. Bailly's death occurred in Philadelphia on June 15, 1883.

CHARLES EDWARD BARBER

Barber, Charles Edward. Barber, who became the sixth engraver at the Philadelphia Mint in 1879, following the death of his father, Chief Engraver William Barber, remained in the post until his death on February 18, 1917. Apart from the pattern series, Charles Barber is best known today for his 1883 Liberty Head nickel and the 1892 dime, quarter, and half dollar. He also designed certain commemorative coins and medals. In the present arena of pattern discussion, certain dies of 1879 are sometimes ascribed to his hand, but they are not signed, and at present there is no complete delineation of who did what among the various dies of this year as well as others through 1880, although the Flowing Hair $4 Stella and the various Washlady dies are attributed to him. With some exceptions, it is evident that Charles Barber's work was second in artistic rank to that of his assistant, George T. Morgan. Some commentary concerning this will be found among the following Bass Collection pattern descriptions.

Charles Barber was born in London in 1840, and in 1852 came to America with his family. His father, an engraver, gained a position with the Philadelphia Mint and in January 1869, following the death on New Year's day of James B. Longacre, became chief engraver. In the best Mint tradition of nepotism, Chief Engraver Barber signed Charles as an assistant, although it seems likely that the younger Barber's talents in this area were modest at best. In 1877 his wages were $4 per day.

In March 1875, Charles Barber married Martha E. Jones. The union produced one child, daughter Edith. Martha died in 1898, and on December 3, 1902, widower Barber married Caroline Gaston.

After his father's death on August 31, 1879, there was an interregnum in which George T. Morgan was being considered for the chief engravership. However, the position passed from father to son, and a few months later Charles E. Barber was named to the post. During his tenure he designed the 1883 Hawaiian silver coinage and certain coins for Cuba and Venezuela. Among commemorative coin dies from his hand are the obverse of the 1892 Columbian half dollar (from models prepared by Olin Levi Warner), both dies for the 1893 Isabella quarter (from sketches by Kenyon Cox, of Brownies fame), the 1900 Lafayette dollar (numismatic historian Arlie Slabaugh has observed that Barber's work is virtually certainly a plagiarism of the obverse of the Yorktown Centennial medal of 1881, engraved by Peter L. Krider), and others. The complexity of sorting out who did what with certain dies is illustrated by the obverse for the 1903 Louisiana Purchase Exposition commemorative gold dollar; Charles Barber is given as the author of the die, but George T. Morgan assisted, and the portrait was copied from an early 19th-century die by Chief Engraver John Reich, who in turn modeled it from a bust by Houdon.

Not even a brief biography of Barber-such as this is-would be complete without mentioning his position as the "enemy" in the "private war" President Theodore Roosevelt had with the Mint in 1905-1907, when the chief executive sought to have a non-Mint employee, famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, prepare new designs for all American coins from the cent to the $20 gold piece, as he felt that, in particular, Barber's current designs for the silver coins were insipid. The observation was hardly new, and in 1895 a contributor to The Numismatist commented: "All the sculptors and artists in the United States have severely criticized the existing coinage. The designs of European coins, they declare, are infinitely superior." The story of Roosevelt's interest, which has been told at length many times in our catalogues and elsewhere, resulted in the creation of the memorable MCMVII High Relief $20, over Barber's strong objections.

His obituary in The Numismatist, April 1917, noted that "the latest coins designed by the younger Mr. Barber were the Panama-Pacific $2.50 gold and the 50-cent silver pieces. Mr. Barber cut the dies for a number of the pattern series, and is said to have possessed a splendid collection of these pieces."

WILLIAM BARBER

Barber, William. Barber became chief engraver at the Philadelphia Mint following the death on January 1, 1869, of James B. Longacre, who had held the post since 1844. He produced many dies for pattern coins during the decade of the 1870s, most notably a large oeuvre of 20-cent pieces 1874-1875, commercial dollars and trade dollars 1873-1876, and silver dollars 1878-1879, among numerous others. His work varies from the ordinary to the inspired, perhaps his 1872 Amazonian silver coins representing his most acclaimed accomplishment in the latter category. For several years after Longacre's death, Barber used Longacre hubs and models to create new varieties of Liberty Seated motifs, later making his own version (which seemed to fall short of Longacre's work). Important to the study of patterns, William Barber was front row center during the most pivotal era of pattern issuance in American history, during the regime of Henry Linderman, during the making and/or distribution of restrikes, irrelevant mulings, etc. No doubt, if he had written his numismatic biography, many secrets would have been revealed. Today, the pattern field is richly endowed with his work.

William Barber was born in London on May 2, 1807, the son of engraver John Barber. He learned the engraving trade at a young age, and in London he worked with the engraving of silver plate table ware and the making of dies for printing cards and labels, the latter for Messrs. De La Rue & Co. In September 1852 he emigrated to the United States.

For the ensuing decade he practiced the engraving trade in Boston. In an 1860 directory of that city we find him located as a die sinker and letter cutter at 8 Congress Square. No doubt he knew Joseph Merriam, James A. Bolen, and other engraving luminaries of the Bay State. Concerning that period in his life, a contributor to the American Journal of Numismatics, October 1879, sniffed: "He was employed in Boston, but could not find much to do in the way of high-quality coins and medals, although there was work making "the inferior class of tradesmen's tokens, political medalets, and the like." That holier-than-thou connoisseur of high quality and coins and medals might be distressed to learn that in 1999, such inferior trade tokens and political medals are more avidly sought after and generally bring far greater prices than to typical medals of the 1860s! During the Civil War he worked for Gorham & Co., maker of silver and gold goods, a competitor to Tiffany & Co.

In 1865 he was hired as an assistant engraver at the Philadelphia Mint, where he worked under Longacre. In January 1869, William Barber was named chief engraver, and following timeworn tradition, immediately hired his untrained son Charles as an assistant. In 1877 Barber's compensation as chief engraver was $3,000 per year.

In August 1879, Barber vacationed at Atlantic City on the New Jersey coast, then as now a popular seaside spa. He ventured into the surf (probably dressed from head to foot, as was the custom in those days), but became chilled. Soon he was wracked by chills and fever. He hoped the illness would be transitory, but it worsened, he was forced to cut his vacation short and return home. On August 31 he died.

A few years later, in the American Journal of Numismatics, July 1883, Patterson DuBois, made the following comment, which was subsequently given wide circulation when reprinted by George G. Evans (he of "gift book" and encased postage stamp fame), in Illustrated History of the United States Mint: "Besides much original work on pattern coins, he also produced over 40 medals, public and private. The work on all of them was creditable, but we may specify those of Agassiz, Rittenhouse, and Henry, as very superior specimens of art. Mr. Barber was assisted by Mr. William H. Key. Charles E. Barber, and Mr. George T. Morgan."

CHRISTIAN GOBRECHT

Gobrecht, Christian. The name of Gobrecht, the third person to occupy the post of chief engraver at the Philadelphia Mint, is well known to collectors today and is reflected in such popular terms as Gobrecht dollar and The Gobrecht Journal, the latter being the publication of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club. Among pattern coins his contributions are at once important, beautiful, and extensive. Most familiar are his Liberty Seated coins, first made in pattern form in 1836, and continued across the denominations of half dime, dime, quarter dollar, half dollar, and silver dollar for years thereafter. Throughout the middle range of the last century, the Liberty Seated obverse as well as Gobrecht's perched eagle reverse were used as obverse and reverse dies for hundreds of different pattern varieties, often with the other die being the work of James B. Longacre or one of the Barbers.

Separately, Gobrecht's flying eagle is an American numismatic icon. First used on the 1836 pattern dollar, it later appeared on many other patterns as well as regular issue 1857-1858 cents. Years later, on June 28, 1906, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the famous sculptor who had been commissioned to redesign the entire American coinage spectrum, wrote to President Theodore Roosevelt, stating that for the reverse of the $20 coin he was going to use: "a flying eagle, a modification of the device which was used on the cent of 1857. I had not seen that coin for many years, and was so impressed by it that I thought if carried out with some modifications, nothing better could be done. It is by all odds the best design on any American coin."

Not only did Gobrecht's designs stand on their own, but they spawned many later versions by others, including Liberty Seated figures created by Longacre, William Barber, and possibly even by J.A. Bailly.

Christian Gobrecht was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, on December 23, 1785, the son of the Reverend John C. Gobrecht who had come to America in 1755 from Germany. Gobrecht's mother, Elizabeth Sands, traced her lineage to Plymouth colony as far back as 1642. He married Mary Hamilton Hewes on May 31, 1818. After serving an apprenticeship in Manheim, Pennsylvania, he became an engraver of ornamental clock works in Baltimore, later moving to Philadelphia in 1811, joining the banknote engraving firm of Murray, Draper, Fairman, and Company, circa 1816. In 1817, Gobrecht made improvements to his 1810 invention of a medal-ruling machine by which a three-dimensional medal or bas-relief object could be converted to a two-dimensional illustration for use in a publication using a linear process. In 1824, he prepared dies for the Franklin Institute medal of the same date, signed GOBRECHT F. below the bust of Franklin.

He furnished dies to the United States Mint as early as 1826 and in September 1835 was accepted as an assistant engraver to William Kneass. Shortly before, on August 27, Kneass had a debilitating stroke, and all pattern and die work from that time onward was done by Gobrecht, including the creation of the 1836 Gobrecht dollars and, most probably, certain 1838 pattern half dollars (that have been called Kneass heads for many years). From December 21, 1840 until his death on July 23, 1844, he served as chief engraver. He is most famous for his silver dollar design of 1836, featuring the Liberty Seated obverse which would soon become a staple in American numismatic history. This coinage design was based on sketches prepared by Thomas Sully and Titian Peale. The obverse design remained on all silver coins for many years, including the half dime (to 1873), dime (1891), quarter (1891), half dollar (1891), and silver dollar (1873). He also created the Liberty Head (or Coronet or Braided Hair) motif that was first used on the $10 gold coin of 1838, and soon thereafter on the half cent, cent, and gold $2.50 and $5.

Much more could be said about Gobrecht, but as within the year we featured his biography in a special article, we refer the reader to Rare Coin Review #126, November/December 1998, "Christian Gobrecht: American coin die engraver extraordinaire," by Q. David Bowers.

WILLIAM KNEASS

Kneass, William. In terms of pattern coinage, Kneass, who was appointed to the chief engravership at the Mint on January 29, 1824, was a nonentity, an also-ran. In fact, we are of the opinion that there is not a single United States pattern coin design that can be attributed to Kneass.

There is a fiction (in the opinion of the present writer) that William Kneass designed certain pattern half dollars of 1838, but this is probably based upon a biography in the American Journal of Numismatics, July 1883, by Patterson DuBois, a Mint employee, who probably was not aware that Kneass had suffered an incapacitating stroke on August 27, 1835, after which Christian Gobrecht did virtually all new work on patterns, dies, etc. The DuBois commentary is given herewith, excerpted, as it also relates life dates, etc.:

"WILLIAM KNEASS, second of the line, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, September 1781, and was appointed engraver, January 29, 1824. Mr. Kneass had been chiefly a plate engraver for bookwork. There were some changes in the coinage during his term, notably in 1834 and [QDB note: here comes the authority for later work] 1838 for gold, and 1836, 1837, 1838, and 1840 for silver. But some [italics added; should be all] of this work was done by Gobrecht as assistant. Kneass appears upon a pattern half dollar of 1838; but the silver dollar of 1836 as well as a pattern half of 1838 were the work of his assistant. Mr. Kneass is well remembered as an affable, genial 'gentleman of the old-school, who had the rare quality of engaging and winning the esteem and affection of children and youth, in whose companionship he found rich delight. Prior to his appointment he had an engraving office on Fourth above Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, which was a well-known rendezvous for the leading wits and men of culture, for which Philadelphia was then eminent. Mr. Kneass died in office, August 27, 1840. A good engraving of him hangs in the Assayer's Office, inscribed 'to his friend Adam Eckfeldt, Chief Coiner,' who had been chiefly instrumental in securing his appointment.…"

In The Numismatist, July 1940, well-known collector and student F.C.C. Boyd perpetuated the fiction of Kneass and the 1838 half dollars, probably inadvertently, as Kneass most certainly did not sign any half dollars of this date (or of any other date): "Preserved in the Assayer's Office of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia is an engraved portrait of Mr. Kneass as engraver and diesinker at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, on January 29, 1824, succeeding Robert Scot. Kneass was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, September, 1781, and his first training as an engraver is unknown, but he became famous in Philadelphia in 1815 and remained working at his profession there from then till his death on August 27, 1840. Most of his work is in line, but he gained considerable attention for some good aquatint views. Two different firms bore his name, Kneass & Dellaker (Delleker) and Young & Kneass & Co., general engravers. He served in the War of 1812 as Volunteer Associate of the Field Engineers, who constructed fortifications on the western front of Philadelphia. In commemoration of this he engraved, in 1815, a plan of this work after the drawing of Strickland, a famous artist of the day and one of Kneass' best friends, for whom he named one of his sons. Of his six children two became famous. Samuel Honeyman Kneass, as architect and engineer, and Strickland Kneass as an engineer. He is credited with engraving many of the dies of the gold coinage in 1834 and 1838, the silver coinage in 1836, 1837, and 1838. Also, his name appears on a pattern half dollar of 1838, but the silver dollar of 1836 and another pattern half dollar of 1838 were the work of his then assistant at the Mint, Christian Gobrecht, who succeeded him as chief engraver on December 21, 1840."

JAMES BARTON LONGACRE

Longacre, James Barton. Longacre was appointed chief engraver of the United States Mint on September 16, 1844, after the death of Christian Gobrecht. He served in the post until his death on January 1, 1869. Although he was assisted by others from time to time (most notably, Anthony C. Paquet), most new pattern designs made during his tenure were from his hand. He leaned heavily on certain work of his predecessor, as in his use in 1854-1855 of the flying eagle design Gobrecht had used on 1838 half dollars and his use in 1856-1858 of the flying eagle design first employed on Gobrecht's 1836 silver dollar. Also, Gobrecht's Liberty Seated motif furnished an inspiration for certain Longacre seated figures.

However, much of Longacre's work was strictly his own, such as the Liberty Head used on the 1848 gold $1 and $20, the Indian Princess gold $1 and $3 of 1854, the lovely Indian Princess pattern silver coins of the late 1860s (also used by William Barber after Longacre's death), the two-cent piece, the Shield nickel and the vast array of pattern five-cent pieces of the 1860s, and, most famous of all, the Indian Head cent. This is but a short list, and many other items could be added. In total, Longacre's dies were used on hundreds of different pattern coins and trial pieces.

Much of his work is of a high order of excellence, and he seems to have had an excellent sense of proportion. Walter Breen has condemned Longacre for ineptitude, including the creation of many blundered dies, but more likely these date-punching and other errors were done by workmen supervised by Chief Coiner Franklin Peale, not by Longacre.

James B. Longacre was born in Delaware County, Pennsylvania on August 11, 1794. Young Longacre served as an apprentice to bookseller James F. Watson of Philadelphia for a short time, then continued his apprenticeship with George Murray, prolific banknote engraver of the same city who at one time also employed Christian Gobrecht. Longacre set out on his own in 1819 and engraved metal plates for bank notes and book illustrations, including for a work on signers of the Declaration of Independence and another on stage personalities. S.F. Bradford's Encyclopedia, 1820, contains his work. In 1830, Longacre and James Herring laid plans for a series of biographies of famous men in the military, political, and other fields. This took form in the National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, of which the first of four volumes was published in 1834. This last work was published in multiple large print runs, was widely circulated, and brought great fame to Longacre and others whose work was included. Today in 1999, while these volumes are hardly common, a modest amount of time spent in inquiries with sellers of antiquarian books will probably turn up a set.

Through the influence of John C. Calhoun, Longacre was appointed as chief engraver at the Mint on September 16, 1844, to succeed the late Christian Gobrecht. While Gobrecht had been a medalist and coin engraver of high repute, Longacre's experience in the medium of struck pieces was limited or nonexistent. However, he was a talented artist, seems to have learned quickly, and by 1849 created his first major new coinage design, the Liberty Head for the gold dollar and double eagle, this project being quite complex and bringing criticism to the engraver when problems were found with the high relief of the portrait. However, adjustments were made, and the design endured on the double eagle until well into the following century, to 1907.

At the Mint during his tenure, particularly in the late 1850s and through the 1860s, various local engravers assisted him, these including William Barber and Anthony C. Paquet-both of whom became well known-and, less well known, P.F. Cross and William H. Key. The latter had an active business in Philadelphia and produced many store cards, tokens (including many connected with the Civil War series), and medals. Neither Cross nor Key are remembered or cited in the annals of pattern coinage, although no doubt they did some of the work on dies we associate with Longacre.

The chief engraver seems to have had little patience with certain of his associates and superiors in the Mint and thus became involved in several notable disputes. In particular, for a long time he was opposed by Chief Coiner Franklin Peale, who ran his own private business using Mint facilities and who was involved in many shenanigans, until he was fired by President Franklin Pearce in December 1854, after which point Longacre had an easier time.

In 1867, Longacre and Anthony C. Paquet (who worked as an assistant engraver at the Mint, but who was now back in the private sector, but doing contract work for the Mint) redesigned and/or modified certain coins for the government of Chile. None of these motifs bear any resemblance to contemporary American coinage, however. Longacre did other commission work from time to time, quite possibly including certain dies for private California coiners (Dubosq is a strong possibility; the principals of that firm left Philadelphia to seek their fortunes in the Land of Gold).

Longacre remained chief engraver until his death on January 1, 1869. On January 4, at the Mint at noon all the officers, clerks, and workers gathered to pay tribute to the late engraver. Dr. Henry R. Linderman delivered an address, William Barber eulogized, and William E. Dubois presented resolutions. On January 21, 1870, coins from Longacre's estate were auctioned by Thomas & Sons, 139 and 141 South Street, Philadelphia. Included were patterns, Chilean coins, regular issues, etc. Longacre's books, art objects, etc., were scheduled to be sold at a later date.

In 1928 the New York Public Library mounted an exhibit of the work of 100 notable American engravers, including works by Longacre. In October 1985 in The Numismatist, in "Longacre, Unsung Engraver of the U.S. Mint," an article by Tom DeLorey, sketched the biography of this important 19th-century man, an engraver who was misunderstood in his time, but who later became a household word in the numismatic community. The DeLorey text was illustrated by sketches and photographs of patterns, a number of which had not been published earlier.

GEORGE T. MORGAN

Morgan, George T. Born in Birmingham, England, in 1845, Morgan, came to the United States from England in 1876 and was hired as an assistant engraver at the Mint in October of that year. He figured very prominently in the production of pattern coins from 1877 onward. To his hand can be ascribed some of the most beautiful of all patterns of the 1877-1882 era, including several varieties of 1877 half dollars, the 1879 "Schoolgirl" dollar, and the 1882 "Shield Earring" coins.

As in the descriptions of the Bass Collection patterns, several references are made regarding Morgan's ability vs. that of William and Charles Barber, the following article by Ted Schwarz, "The Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars," in The Numismatist, November 1975, gives another numismatic view of the situation while imparting the history of Morgan's employment:

"Mint Director H.R. Linderman was just as concerned about [the designs of] the Gobrecht coinage and other designs in circulation as were the people opposed to the [designs of the] current specie. He felt that change was needed, but he also felt that Chief Engraver William Barber, and his assistant, his son Charles, were overworked and perhaps underqualified. He turned for a solution to the London Mint and wrote to the director, 'Could you find us a first class diesinker who would be willing to take the position of Assistant Engraver at the Mint at Philadelphia? We would like a man who could produce a finished hub, and if he understood modeling and also bronzing it would make him more valuable to us. We could pay about $8 per day to a person of proper qualifications. If you know of such a one who would be likely to answer our purpose, I will be glad if you will place me in communication with him.' The reason for turning to the British Mint was explained at the end of the letter: 'The engraving of coinage and medal dies has not been brought to much perfection in this country. In England it appears to have reached a standard equal if not superior to that of any other country.'

"The director of the London Mint, Charles W. Fremantle, replied in part, 'My enquiries as to an Assistant Engraver lead me very strongly to recommend for the post Mr. George Morgan, aged 30, who has made himself a considerable name, but for whom there is not much opening at present in this country. I send a letter from him, to which you will of course reply as you may think best, but I may perhaps just say that looking to Mr. Morgan's real talent, I do not think that he wishes to make conditions which are in any way unreasonable, and that I am convinced you would not find in him any inclination to take undue advantage of such privilege in regard to private work & as you may see fit to concede to him. I may add that he is personally agreeable & gentleman-like, & particularly modest and quiet in manner, so that he would be likely to make an agreeable colleague. You will judge of his qualifications by the work he is sending you, & I can only say that I shall be sorry if we lose him from this country, while I make no doubt he will be a valuable acquisition to yours, both officially and as an artist. It has of course occurred to me that you may think Mr. Morgan too good for the place you have to offer, but I have a strong opinion that he ought not to be lost to you on that account, & that you will do well to secure his services.'

"Morgan's letter described his training and experience: 'I am familiar with the engraving of coin dies, having for several years, assisted Messrs. J.S. & A.B. Wyon." I think I may say that I have a good knowledge of Design & Modeling. I served an apprenticeship to the Die Sinking at Birmingham. From Birmingham School of Art I successfully competed for a Scholarship at South Kensington… during my Studentship I obtained Medals & Prizes for Models of Heads from Life. Figures from Life & Antique Heads from Photographs and Flowers from nature. I believe it is not usual for an Engraver to have a practical knowledge of Bronzing. Fortunately I have a knowledge of this art and could in a short time so instruct an apt scholar that he would be able to successfully bronze a medal.'

"Morgan was indeed hired by the Philadelphia Mint, with the understanding that William Barber would soon be retired so there would be space for the British engraver to use for work. The two Barbers shared an office in the Mint from which they conducted not only government business but also operated their own private engraving firm. With the Mint's knowledge they often used business hours for their private enterprise, wasting the taxpayers' money. The retirement of the senior Barber would enable him to devote full time to his private engraving firm, while also freeing half the office space for Morgan.

"In 1878, George Morgan had a chance to demonstrate his experience and talents. His coin, a variation of the adopted dollar introduced in 1878, had Liberty's head sculpted in a classic style. The only complaint against the design was that Liberty appeared somewhat obese. Charles Barber also submitted a possible design. However, his version showed Liberty fat, rather dumpy looking and appearing to have thyroid trouble. It was far from his best effort. It is interesting to study the reverses of the early designs of both Morgan and Barber. The Morgan eagle, supposedly created in imitation of real life, actually seemed more heraldic in nature while the Barber eagle seemed stately and real. However, that opinion was not shared by everyone. Morgan used Anna Williams, a Philadelphia school teacher, for his model of Liberty. He apparently was enchanted with the woman and called her profile the most nearly perfect one he had ever encountered. The first of the Morgan dollars was ironically presented to President Hayes, the man who had vetoed the act authorizing the coins. The rest began entering circulation rather fitfully. The coins were generally ignored in the northern and eastern portions of the United States, but they were popular in the West and in the South, primarily because the recently freed slaves felt more secure with such 'hard' money than they did with the paper dollars commonly used for eastern business transactions."

Additional information concerning Morgan's coming to America and his relationship with the Barber family is provided by R.W. Julian in a commentary he contributed to Bowers, Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia:

"The Englishman embarked from Liverpool on board the Illinois on September 27, 1876, arriving at the port of Philadelphia 12 days later. The new engraver went directly to the Mint where he received a friendly welcome from the superintendent, James Pollock. The Barbers, father and son, were less than pleased to see Morgan and the reception was correct, but chilly. In the meantime, Fremantle had sent Linderman a number of non-Morgan English eagle designs for contemplation. Morgan then traveled to Washington where he spent a day discussing possible designs for the silver coins with the director. Linderman favored a return to the female head of Liberty as seen on the coinage prior to 1836 and also a strong eagle on the reverse. Morgan well understood that Dr. Linderman would be looking over his shoulder at every step, controlling the exact form the new designs were to take.

"Upon his return to Philadelphia, Morgan was curtly informed by Chief Engraver William Barber that there was no room in the Mint for him to work, and the modeling would have to be done elsewhere. It is true that the Mint was cramped for space in 1876, but Barber could have found room for the new engraver had it been necessary. (Linderman eventually ordered that this be done.) In the meantime Morgan did much of the work at 3727 Chestnut Street, a rooming house that was one of several places where he stayed after his arrival in America. Morgan enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts to enrich his knowledge of American art as well as to meet others in his field. It was at about this time that he was introduced by Thomas Eakins, Philadelphia artist, to Anna Willess Williams, a local teacher. Morgan persuaded her, with some difficulty, to pose for the Liberty head that Linderman wanted for his silver coinage. According to an article in The Numismatist of May 1896, there were five sittings in November 1876. The original designs were intended for use on the half dollar. At the time, no coinage of silver dollars was contemplated."

Following Chief Engraver William Barber's death in 1879, Morgan hoped that he would be named to the post. However, the nod went to Barber's son Charles, a man of relatively few talents in the engraving field. Charles Barber remained in the position for many years, until his death on February 18, 1917. Subsequently, Morgan became chief engraver, but this was late in his life, and his "glory years" had already been spent in a secondary position. He remained chief engraver until his death on January 4, 1925.

The Numismatist, February 1925, carried his obituary:

"George T. Morgan, chief engraver for the Philadelphia Mint, died suddenly on January 4 at his home, 6230 McCallum Street, Germantown. He was 79 years old. Despite his advanced years Mr. Morgan had been active until a few days before his death, when he became ill. Prior to that he had been engaged in modeling a series of medals in commemoration of the secretaries of the Treasury of the United States from Alexander Hamilton down. Mr. Morgan had made the models for and engraved medals commemorating the administration of every president since Rutherford B. Hayes. He collaborated with the country's noted sculptors in designing the country's coinage and, to a considerable extent, in adapting such models to use on postage stamps of all denominations. His work made him personally known to all the presidents of recent times. His employment by the United States government in the Philadelphia Mint covered a period of 48 years. The famous Bland silver dollar was one of his coin engravings. His initials appeared on a large proportion of all the coins issued in the last quarter of a century or more by the Mint. Born in Birmingham, England, in 1845, he studied at art schools in that country, and came to Philadelphia to enter the Engraving Department of the Mint. He brought with him the Englishman's love of cricket as a sport and was one of the founders of the old Belmont Cricket Club in West Philadelphia. He retained his interest in the game to the last and was an active member of the Germantown Cricket Club. He was a man of striking physique and his years sat lightly on him. He was a life member of the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts and a member of the Sketch Club. He was for many years a vestryman of Christ Protestant Episcopal Church, Germantown, and superintendent of its Sunday school. He is survived by his widow and three children-Miss Phyllis Morgan, Leonard P. Morgan, who is an electrolytic chemist in the United States Assay Office at New York, and Mrs. C.M. Graham."

In addition to his many pattern coins, Morgan is particularly remembered for his famous "Morgan dollar" which was struck for circulation from 1878 to 1921 and several commemorative coins, plus a vast production of medals.

ANTHONY C. PAQUET

Paquet, Anthony C. The engraver is one of relatively few assistants at the Mint who never achieved the chief engravership position, but whose name is a numismatic byword today. Although he signed many medals at the Philadelphia Mint, including the particularly important Washington Cabinet Medal for presentation on February 22, 1860, his patterns are unsigned. Among patterns attributed to Paquet are certain cent dies circa 1858, pattern half dollars and $20 coins of 1859, several issues of the 1860s, and at least one 1877 half dollar, among others. Dies employing tall letters with thick uprights are often attributed to him, and in the case of certain 1859 half dollars and of the 1861 Paquet Reverse $20 this is correct. Others may have been from punches that Paquet made, but which were employed by different artists.

Anthony C. Paquet was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1814, probably the son of Touissaint François Paquet, a bronze worker in that city. He came to America in 1848, and in the mid-1850s had an engraving shop in New York City. Unfortunately, there seems to be virtually nothing in present numismatic literature to identify tokens, medals, or any other metallic items he may have created prior to coming to the Mint, save for a John C. Fremont campaign medal; reverse inscription: "THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS ECHO BACK FREMONT," etc. No doubt, careful study of the letter punches on this medal would help to identify other Paquet dies of the era. During this era he had a shop in New York City, but may have worked elsewhere as well.

Paquet did contract work for the Mint in early 1857, and on October 20 of that year joined the Mint staff as an assistant engraver. He remained in that post through early 1864, after which he returned to the private sector, but continued to do important commissions for the government, including two designs for Indian Peace medals. Paquet furnished the letter punches for certain patterns and possibly regular coins as well, one recorded shipment arriving in late May, 1857, although he could have done earlier work as well. Apparently, the same engraver made up punches for various denominations including the dime, quarter, and half dollar. However, these fonts were not used at the time for circulating coinage.

Paquet died in 1882, leaving a great legacy of pattern coins, some regular issues, and an illustrious group of medals including the Congressional Medal of Honor (authorized by President Lincoln on July 12, 1861). His portrait of George Washington, based upon Jean Antoine Houdon's bust of 1785, was used on the 1860 Washington Cabinet medal, on a popular cent-sized Mint medalet, and elsewhere. Although these coins are not signed, the pattern Washington five-cent pieces of 1866 may be his work, at least in part.


 

1850 Annular Cent Pattern

P-138, Copper-Nickel

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1001     1850 pattern cent. Pollock-138, Judd-123 Restrike. Rarity-7. Annular (ring-form) planchet. Proof-64 (PCGS). Copper-nickel. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: USA above a central perforation, ONE TENTH SILVER below.

Reverse Design: CENT above a central perforation, 1850 below, rosettes to left and right.

Surfaces: Pale gray with slightly reflective fields. A wisp of gold toning is visible with faint blue on the reverse. Minor hairlines are present consistent with the grade.

Narrative: This is one of few instances in which the official composition (in this case 10% silver and 90% copper) was stated as part of the design. The central perforation, or hole, served two purposes. First, the diameter could be increased without a reduction in thickness. Second, the cents would become easily distinguished from higher denomination coins. By the 1840s, the large copper cents in circulation had come to be regarded as burdensome and inconvenient. On January 9, 1849, Congressman Samuel F. Vinton wrote to Mint Director Patterson to inform him that the Committee of Ways and Means had resolved to "take into consideration the propriety of reporting a bill for reducing the size of the one-cent piece." In 1850 the Mint responded by preparing some annular cent patterns struck in billon (see information concerning billon in our notes under Pollock-149). Additional billon patterns were issued in 1851.

The present coin is struck in a copper-nickel composition, presumably of the general alloy as first used in 1856 for pattern Flying Eagle cents. Most probably, this coin was made after that time, with circa 1858-1860 being a strong probability. During that era there was a strong demand from numismatists for patterns, including those of early dates, and Director James Ross Snowden obligingly restruck them on request, until the entire situation went "underground" in spring 1859, after which tangled webs of information were woven by Mint officials.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 25.9 grains. Diameter: 17.7 mm. Die alignment: 360°. Die notes: The obverse has extensive die cracks.

Harry X Boosel was for many years a very active figure on the numismatic scene. He was very proud of his middle initial, X, which was complete in itself and not an abbreviation for some name beginning with the letter, much as the S in Harry S Truman was stand-alone. If, perchance, a proofreader at Bowers and Merena did not know this and, heaven forbid, changed his name to read Harry X. Boosel, a letter was always forthcoming.

Following extensive study of coins dated 1873, and an evaluation of the Closed 3 (made earlier in the year) and Open 3 varieties, Boosel published his findings including in The Numismatist and The Numismatic Scrapbook. However, widespread collector interest was a long time coming, and it has not been until the past decade or two that such varieties have been widely represented on "want lists."

From RARCOA's sale of Harry X Boosel "1873" Collection, April 1972, Lot 979.

 

Superb Gem 1850 Ring Cent

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1002     1850 pattern cent. P-141, J-152a. Rarity-8. Proof-66 (PCGS). Copper-nickel or nickel. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: Same as the reverse of the preceding, except there is no central perforation in the planchet.

Reverse Design: A laurel wreath contains the denomination, ONE CENT.

Surfaces: Very sharply struck with full leaf details on the reverse. Attractive light gray surfaces. Satiny lustre.

Narrative: Dr. Judd listed this among issues of 1853, despite the date included as part of the design. Andrew Pollock noted: "This is the same [reverse] die used to coin the 1853 German silver cent patterns. All pieces from this die combination were probably coined no earlier than 1853, and possibly later." Unfortunately, there are very few offerings of patterns in auctions prior to 1860, and thus these are of little help in determining early market appearances.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 44.4 grains. Diameter: 17.8 mm. Die alignment: 360°. Die notes: A thin die crack joins the tops of CENT with the border at 1:00.

From Abner Kreisberg's "Quality" Sales Corp., November 30, 1970, Lot 1251. Illustrated in United States Patterns and Related Issues, by Andrew W. Pollock III, as figure 56.

 

Gem 1851 Ring Cent

P-149, Billon

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1003     1851 pattern cent. P-149, J-127. Rarity-6. Annular (ring-form) planchet. Proof-65 (PCGS). Billon. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: The denomination, CENT, is above a central perforation, with the composition, ONE TENTH SILVER, around. A raised band encircles the perforation.

Reverse Design: A laurel wreath encompasses the central perforation with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, around.

Surfaces: Reflective bright gray with a trace of gold toning. Generally sharp strike with slight weakness on the highest edges of the leaf details.

Narrative: The annular cent proposal was ultimately rejected due to several significant problems, including the ease of counterfeiting. Further, as the coins were redeemed, the expense of extracting the small silver content would have been excessive. Finally, the process of striking the coins and ejecting them from the dies was extremely difficult.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 30.2 grains. Diameter: 18.1 mm. Die alignment: 350°.

Billon, a term used in the study of American pattern coins as well as certain areas of world coinage, refers in the present case to an alloy used for certain pattern coins at the Philadelphia Mint, 1850s-1860s, consisting of copper with silver to add value, thus permitting a lightweight coin of small diameter to have the same metallic value as a larger one. In the context of pattern cent coinage, billon was an alloy consisting of 90% copper and 10% silver (which is just the reverse of the standard silver alloy of the time for half dimes to dollars, which consisted of 90% silver and 10% copper).

Purchased from Lee Hewitt, April 17, 1972. Illustrated in United States Patterns and Related Issues, by Andrew W. Pollock III, as figure 61.

 

Superb Gem 1851 Ring Cent

P-153, Copper

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1004     1851 pattern cent. P-153, J-129 Original. Rarity-7. Annular (ring-form) planchet. Proof-66 BN (PCGS). Copper. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding.

Reverse Design: As preceding.

Surfaces: A delightful example with light olive-brown highlighted by pale blue, light yellowish green, and lilac. Traces of mint red remain around a few letters on both obverse and reverse. Lightly reflective fields add to the aesthetics.

Narrative: This particular example, struck in copper with a central perforation, is most likely an "original" issue produced in 1851. In addition to the various annual cent patterns, some other patterns dated 1851 are known, these being the restrikes of the 1851 center-date Liberty Seated silver dollar in copper and nickel alloy, no doubt dating from the early 1860s.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 28.4 grains. Diameter: 18.2 mm. Die alignment: 350°.

Purchased from Julian Leidman, August 14, 1971.

 

1853 "Quarter Eagle Cent"

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1005     1853 pattern cent. P-178, J-151. Rarity-5. Liberty quarter eagle obverse, cent reverse. Proof-65 (PCGS). German silver. Reeded edge.

Obverse Design: The adopted dies for the 1853 quarter eagle.

Reverse Design: A laurel wreath containing the denomination, ONE CENT.

Surfaces: Deep gray with a few very minor spots. Very sharply struck with all details fully defined. The surfaces exhibit an attractive blend of reflective satiny lustre.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 39.9 grains. Diameter: 18.1 mm. Die alignment: 190°.

Notes: German silver was just one of several experimental alloys considered by the Mint in the mid and late 1800s. This alloy included various amounts of nickel, copper, and zinc, but, contained no actual silver. Dr. Judd assigned different catalogue numbers to the various compositions of German Silver, however, the distinction between these must rely on elemental analysis, a procedure not practical for everyday numismatics. The Judd numbers are as follows: Judd-149 resembles copper-nickel such as Flying Eagle cents - 40% nickel, 40% copper, 20% zinc; Judd-150 has the appearance of bronze - 30% nickel, 60% copper, 10% zinc; Judd-151 is white or grayish white in color - 40% nickel, 60% copper. Based on these guidelines, we have tentatively attributed this as Judd-151, however, we make no guarantees.

Relative to German silver, no discussion of this alloy would be complete without mentioning Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger, a New York City chemist and metallurgist who devised Feuchtwanger's Composition, a variety of German silver, in 1837 and spent many later years in efforts to popularize its use. Alloys which are similar, but contain little if any actual silver, include argentan, Britannia metal, and packfong.

Purchased from Brinton T. Schorer, May 3, 1973.

 

Gilt 1853 Pattern Cent

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1006     1853 pattern cent. P-178 gilt, Type of J-149 to J-151. Rarity-5. Liberty quarter eagle obverse, cent reverse. MS-63. German silver, gilt. Reeded edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding.

Reverse Design: As preceding.

Surfaces: Bright yellow surfaces without toning or spots. A few microscopic lint marks are visible, as made. A very sharply struck example. Light die striae are visible on both surfaces.

Narrative: Attributed as Judd-150, however, as a practical matter, those patterns catalogued as Judd-149, Judd-150, and Judd-151 are indistinguishable in the absence of elemental analysis, as noted in the previous lot. Of course, the gilding on this example tends to further complicate matters, and raises an interesting question: why would a one-cent piece be gilded in the first place? Perhaps someone included it in a collection of quarter eagles.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 40.6 grains. Diameter: 18.1 mm. Die alignment: 180°.

From New Netherlands Coin Co.'s. 61st Sale, June 30, 1970, Lot 4. Previously from J.C. Morgenthau & Co., June 1942, Lot 30.

 

Fascinating 1854 Cent

"Silver Dollar" Obverse

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1007     1854 pattern cent. P-185, J-158. Rarity-6+. Liberty Seated obverse. Proof-64 (PCGS). German silver. Reeded edge.

Obverse Design: Christian Gobrecht's Liberty Seated design, employed for regular-issue silver dollars.

Reverse Design: A wreath of oak leaves and acorns encloses the denomination 1 CENT.

Surfaces: Very light gray with a few minor spots. Sharply struck reverse with only slight weakness noted on the ribbon bow. Due to the nature of the die work, justice would not be done if an attempt were made to describe the obverse strike.

Narrative: Throughout the 1850s, Congress and the Mint experimented with a vast array of different patterns for the one-cent piece, realizing that the large copper cent was expensive to produce and difficult to use. These patterns include various compositions and sizes, even including the perforated patterns (as offered above). Some of these patterns were very well designed while others were hastily produced (such as that offered here) which was simply a reduction of the obverse from an 1854 silver dollar.

By any account this is one of the most curious productions of the Philadelphia Mint in the decade of the 1850s. To create this piece, the Engraving Department at the Mint took an already struck 1854 Liberty Seated silver dollar (not a model, not a hub, but an actual coin, and not of the cent denomination) and used a reducing lathe to transfer its design to a cent die slightly less than the diameter of a quarter dollar.

The transfer was made in extreme haste, with the result that the tracing point on the dollar and the rapidly rotating cutting head on the other end, recorded just the basic details of the dollar obverse. The stars appear as stretched-out blobs, and in the date the 4 is indistinct, causing it to read as "1851." Under low magnification the spiral path of the cutting head is seen on the obverse of the finished pattern coins.

The reverse consists simply of a wreath enclosing 1 CENT, again without any mention of the United States of America. Most were struck in a bright white nickel-content alloy in the German silver style.

As if this were not enough to say about this strange dollar-cent pattern, it is further curious to note that at the Mint a number of additional pieces seem to have been made in copper by the electrotyping process, rather than striking from dies! (See following lot.)

Technical Aspects: Weight: 53.2 grains. Diameter: 21.7 mm. Die alignment: 180°.

Purchased from Julian Leidman, May 2, 1973. Illustrated in United States Patterns and Related Issues, by Andrew W. Pollock III, as figure 70.

 


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1008     1854 pattern cent. P-186, J-159. Rarity-6+. Liberty Seated obverse. Proof-64 BN (PCGS). Copper. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding.

Reverse Design: As preceding.

Surfaces: Slightly reflective light brown with blue, amber, and lilac toning. A most attractive example.

Narrative: This is an electrotype with a single seam on the edge to indicate the method of manufacture. This example has a clear ring, unlike most electrotypes which simply emit a dull thud when subjected to the ring test. Believed to be of Mint origin, and numismatically accepted as such. The specific gravity of 8.82 is slightly below the standard value of 8.96 for copper.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 73.1 grains. Diameter: 21.3 mm. Die alignment: 180°. Specific gravity: 8.82.

From RARCOA's Central States sale, April 30, 1975, Lot 347.

 


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1009     1854 pattern cent. P-187, J-160 or 161. Rarity-4. Braided Hair. Proof-65 BN (PCGS). Copper. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: Bust of Liberty, facing left, as on contemporary large copper cents. The date is below the bust and the field is plain, without stars.

Reverse Design: A continuous laurel wreath surrounds the denomination, ONE CENT; the legend, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, around. Similar to the large copper cent, however, the wreath and lettering are smaller.

Surfaces: Brightly reflective medium brown Proof surfaces with traces of blue, lilac, and amber toning. Very sharply struck.

Narrative: Attribution by Judd number is impossible in the absence of elemental analysis. Dr. Judd reported copper strikings with a weight of 100 grains and bronze strikings which weigh 96 grains. In a survey of examples for his reference, Andrew Pollock noted a range of recorded weights from 90.9 grains to 100.0 grains with the majority between 94.2 and 96.2 grains.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 95.8 grains. Diameter: 25.5 mm. Die alignment: 180°. Die notes: Clash marks are visible on both obverse and reverse.

Stanley Kesselman, whose main occupation has been in the securities business, has been a familiar face on the numismatic scene for many years, particularly at activities held in the New York City area. His specialty has been gold coins, although many other items are handled as well, including this pattern sold in 1971.

Purchased from Stanley Kesselman, August 30, 1971.

 

1855 Flying Eagle Cent

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1010     1855 pattern cent. P-193, J-167 or 168. Rarity-4. Large Flying Eagle. Proof-64 BN (PCGS). Copper. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: A large flying eagle faces left with 13 stars around, and the date, 1855, below.

Reverse Design: Similar to the preceding with a larger wreath.

Surfaces: Deep brown with bright blue toning over reflective Proof surfaces. Quite sharply struck with slight weakness noted at the very tips of the eagle's tail feathers and on the highest points of the wreath.

Narrative: One of many pattern cents featuring the Flying Eagle design. An interesting collection, for the very patient collector, would be a set of Flying Eagle cent patterns, one example with each different design from 1854 to 1858. Over 20 coins would be included with all the minor obverse and reverse design variations. Add in the different compositions and a long-term project will be encountered. Good luck!

Technical Aspects: Weight: 95.9 grains. Diameter: 25.5 mm. Die alignment: 180°.

Gobrecht's Eagle: The obverse is an adaptation of Christian Gobrecht's flying eagle design conceived in 1836, and in the present form (with somewhat ruffed neck feathers) was first employed in coinage on the reverse of 1838 pattern half dollars.

The story of the eagle is as follows: In the summer of 1835 Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson contacted Philadelphia artists Thomas Sully and Titian Peale, each of considerable repute, to help with his plan of improving the artistry on coinage. Peale was to create an eagle motif, Sully a new figure of Miss Liberty. On August 1, Patterson wrote to describe the reverse motif:

"I propose an eagle flying, and rising in its flight, amidst the constellation irregularly dispersed of 24 stars and carrying in its claws a scroll with the words E PLURIBUS UNUM.…" He further requested a "lifelike" bird rather than the "artificial" bird that had been on the silver and gold coinage since 1807, the design of John Reich. A "recently killed" bird was propped up in a flying position and used as a model. How this reconciles with the popular belief that Peter, the Mint mascot, was the eagle is not known. Perhaps Peter had recently died, coincidentally with the need for him as a model (more on this subsequently).

After reviewing sketches and making various changes, including having the eagle fly without anything in its talons, the final design was finished by Chief Engraver Christian Gobrecht by autumn 1836. Meanwhile, the obverse had been finessed first. Dies were ready in November 1836. Silver dollars with the eagle motif were struck soon thereafter. The present motif, that used on P-193, was not used at the time, and as noted above, was first employed on pattern half dollars two years later.

In Mint lore, the eagle in question is said to have been drawn from life from "Peter," a pet which lived at the Mint for six years and was free to come and go as he pleased, until he met his death one day by perching on a rotating flywheel. Peter, stuffed and mounted, was sent to the World's Columbian Exposition in 1892-3, and placed high above the Treasury Department exhibit. Currently (1999) Peter is exhibited in a plastic case in the lobby of the Philadelphia Mint. In his present form, Peter bears scant resemblance to the eagle on the 1836 silver dollar, the following account notwithstanding:

The following appeared in the early 1890s in Harper's Young People:

"On the dollars of 1836, 1838, and 1839, and the nickel cent coins in 1856 is the portrait of an American eagle which was for many years a familiar sight in the streets of Philadelphia. "Peter," one of the finest eagles ever captured alive, was the pet of the Philadelphia Mint, and was generally known as the 'Mint bird.' Not only did he have free access to every part of the Mint, going without hindrance into the Treasury vaults where even the treasurer of the United States would not go alone, but he used his own pleasure in going about the city, flying over the houses, sometimes perching upon lamp posts in the streets. Everybody knew him, and even the street boys treated him with respect. The government provided his daily fare, and he was as much a part of the Mint establishment as the superintendent or the chief coiner. He was kindly treated and had no fear of anybody or anything, and he might be in the Mint yet if he had not sat down to rest upon one of the great flywheels. The wheel started without warning, and Peter was caught in the machinery. One of his wings was broken, and he died a few days later. The superintendent had his body beautifully mounted, with his wings spread to their fullest extent; and to this day Peter stands in a glass case in the Mint cabinet. A portrait of him as he stands in the case was put upon the coins named."

Purchased from Stanley Kesselman, August 30, 1971.

 

Double Struck 1855 Pattern Cent

Flying Eagle Motif

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1011     1855 pattern cent. P-193, J-167 or 168. Rarity-4. Large Flying Eagle. Proof-64 BN (PCGS). Copper. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding.

Reverse Design: As preceding.

Surfaces: Light brown with slightly mirrored Proof surfaces. Very faint traces of blue toning are evident. A few very minor impairments are visible, however, none of these are distracting.

Narrative: Sharply double struck with approximately 5° rotation between strikes. We have handled a few double struck examples of the large Flying Eagle patterns, most recently an example in our March 1999 offering of the Voigt and Lee Collections, Lot 6; in that instance an example of Pollock-189, dated 1854.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 95.5 grains. Diameter: 25.5 mm. Die alignment: 180°.

Purchased from Lee Hewitt, April 17, 1972.

 

1855 P-198 Flying Eagle Cent

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1012     1855 pattern cent. P-198, J-172 or 173. Rarity-7. Large Flying Eagle. Proof-65 BN (PCGS). Copper or bronze. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding.

Reverse Design: Similar to the preceding, with a smaller wreath. This is the same reverse as found on P-187, offered above.

Surfaces: Lightly reflective medium brown surfaces with sharp design details. Very slight weakness is noted on the first two stars and a few leaves in the wreath.

Narrative: The pattern Flying Eagle cents of 1854 and 1855 are fairly scarce, with any one of the varieties being much more elusive than the famous copper-nickel pattern cent of 1856. However, the earlier pieces are not as well known, and the demand for them has not been as high. The Bass Collection offers several outstanding pieces.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 92.2 grains. Diameter: 25.4 mm. Die alignment: 180°. Die notes: Very faint die polishing lines are noted on the obverse.

Purchased from Phil G. Chew, April 23, 1972.

 

Second High-Grade 1855 P-198 Cent

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1013     1855 pattern cent. P-198, J-172 or 173. Rarity-7. Large Flying Eagle. Proof-64 BN (PCGS). Copper or bronze. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding.

Reverse Design: As preceding.

Surfaces: Sharply struck with light orange-brown surfaces, in this case the result of light cleaning at some time. Traces of blue and lilac toning are visible. Another attractive example of this popular issue.

Narrative: Further confusion is noted regarding the distinction between alloys. As we have mentioned previously, it is virtually impossible to distinguish between copper (J-172) and bronze (J-173).

Technical Aspects: Weight: 93.5 grains. Diameter: 25.4 mm. Die alignment: 180°.

Purchased from R.W. Coram; Goliad, August 11, 1972.

 

1868 P-673 Pattern Cent

Die Variety I

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1014     1868 pattern cent. P-673 variety I, J-608. Rarity-5. Coronet Head. Proof-64 (PCGS). Nickel. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: A bust of Liberty faces left with legend, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, around and date, 1868, below. Miss Liberty is wearing a coronet inscribed LIBERTY. Her hair is tied back with a ribbon. The date is centered in the space between the bust and the border.

Reverse Design: A large Roman numeral "I" is enclosed in a laurel wreath with separate left and right branches, almost touching at the top of the wreath.

Surfaces: Reflective light gray with cameo devices. Minor hairlines and a few reverse spots are noted.

Narrative: The different date placements are believed to have been discovered by Harry W. Bass, Jr.

Three different denominations, the one-cent, three-cent, and five-cent pieces, all share this common design, with the reverse altered only with the change in face value. These were produced to serve as coinage examples in conjunction with a bill submitted to Congress by Representative Kelley for the creation of a series of low-denomination coins as legal tender for any amount up to one dollar.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 22.2 grains. Diameter: 15.8 mm. Die alignment: 180°. Die notes: A thin die crack from the base of ES passes through the coronet point and top of the hair bun to AMER.

From Stack's ANA Sale, August 11, 1971, Lot 311. Previously from J.M. Wade.

 

1868 P-673 Pattern Cent

Die Variety II

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1015     1868 pattern cent. P-673 variety II, J-608. Rarity-5. Coronet Head. Proof-66 (PCGS). Nickel. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding, except the date is centered, slightly more distant from the bust.

Reverse Design: As preceding.

Surfaces: Sharply struck with attractive cameo devices over mirrored Proof surfaces. Just a hint of amber toning is visible along with a few very minor reverse spots.

Narrative: This centered-date variety appears to be slightly more common than the high date. This obverse is a miniature version of the nickel three-cent piece introduced in 1865.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 23.5 grains. Diameter: 15.7 mm. Die alignment: 180°.

Purchased from Julian Leidman, November 17, 1970.

 

1868 Pattern Cent

Die Variety III

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1016     1868 pattern cent. P-674, J-609. Rarity-7. Coronet Head. Proof-64 RB (PCGS). Copper. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding with the date high in the field, but from a different die.

Reverse Design: As preceding.

Surfaces: Deep orange with iridescent toning, an aesthetic treat. The obverse and reverse devices display cameo contrast with olive toning.

Narrative: This is a variation of the high date variety which, in this instance, has a sharply doubled base and serif to the digit 1. This is from a different obverse die than either P-673 variety offered above. We have designated it as Die Variety III.

This and the two preceding lots represent a numismatic mystery. Why was it necessary to have three different obverse dies? Perhaps this indicates that strikings were accomplished at three different times: an initial striking period, and then to satisfy later demand, subsequent striking periods. Perhaps the two later periods were after 1869 when a wholesale destruction of current and earlier-dated dies was said to have taken place (see introduction to the pattern section).

The existence of multiple die varieties among certain pattern coins-and the Indian Head cents of 1858 are another example-would seem to indicate that such pieces were a "stock in trade" for Mint officials for a long time. Not noted on Mint record books, such pieces were probably made for private profit, an early day equivalent of Lesney "lunch box specials," or other delicacies made for collectors at off-times. Walter Breen, acting on a suggestion by Richard Snow, devised the term "Midnight Minters" to describe coiners who worked in secret.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 21.1 grains. Diameter: 15.7 mm. Die alignment: 180°.

Purchased from Lee Hewitt, April 17, 1972.

 

Superb Gem 1869 P-741 Cent

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1017     1869 pattern cent. P-741, J-666. Rarity-6. Coronet Head. Proof-66 (PCGS). Nickel. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding, except the date is 1869. The digit 9 is closer to the hair curl than the border, and is approximately centered below this curl.

Reverse Design: As preceding.

Surfaces: A sharply struck, lovely cameo Proof. Some slight planchet rifts are noted at the center of the reverse. The obverse has a few very small lint marks, as made.

Narrative: This pattern issue continues a series of small denomination patterns with artistically uniform designs, consisting of one-cent, three-cent, and five-cent denominations. Sets of these three were reportedly sold by the Mint for $9.00, according to Dr. Judd. The unanswered question: did the Mint intend these as patterns to suggest a new coinage concept, or was this solely a money making venture by various Mint employees?

Technical Aspects: Weight: 22.7 grains. Diameter: 15.3 mm. Die alignment: 180°. Die notes: Numerous raised die lines are noted on the obverse.

Purchased from Julian Leidman, September 16, 1971.

 

Superb Gem 1869 P-742 Cent

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1018     1869 pattern cent. P-742, J-666. Rarity-6. Coronet Head. Proof-67 (PCGS). Nickel. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding, except the digit 9 is closer to the border and is below the left side of the curl.

Reverse Design: Similar to the preceding, however, using a different die. The ribbon ends do not line up in the same position in relation to the dentils.

Surfaces: A delightful example with sharp design details and deeply reflective fields. The upper obverse displays a bulge, indicating a sunken area in the die.

Narrative: At least three different obverse dies were used for the coinage of these pattern cents, as described by Andrew Pollock for his varieties 741, 742, and 743. Again, a numismatic mystery is presented.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 23.2 grains. Diameter: 15.8 mm. Die alignment: 180°. Die notes: Light die lines are visible on both the obverse and the reverse.

From Stack's ANA Sale, August 11, 1971, Lot 312. Previously from Stack's sale of October 1950, Lot 77.

 

1884 P-1929 "Holey" Cent

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1019     1884 pattern cent. P-1929, J-1721. Rarity-6. Eastman Johnson's "holey" design. Proof-67 (PCGS). Nickel. Plain edge. Thick planchet.

Obverse Design: Irregular central perforation with legend, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, around and date, 1884, below.

Reverse Design: The denomination, ONE CENT, is at the top with an inverted shield below. Left and right of the shield are laurel sprigs.

Surfaces: Lustrous light gray and pale gold with mildly reflective fields. A superb, gem-quality example of this intriguing pattern issue.

Narrative: This pattern was proposed and designed by American painter Eastman Johnson, who prepared the designs as early as 1879. Johnson was born in Lowell, Maine, in 1824 and died in New York City, 82 years later. The description given above, Eastman Johnson's "holey" design, is taken directly from the New York Coin & Stamp Co. catalogue of the Lorin G. Parmelee Collection, June 1890, Lot 253. In that sale, a two-piece lot including one-cent and five-cent examples of this design, realized $1.25!

The pattern cents dated 1884 and 1885 are the third to last and next to last collectible years of such issues, with the swan song occurring in 1896 following a leap of 11 years with no issues. Eastman Johnson seems to have suggested these issues at a significantly earlier date, as sketches were available by the late 1870s. Rogers M. Fred, Jr., a consummate student of the pattern series, reported that Johnson's most famous painting was titled Negro Life in the South, more familiarly known as Old Kentucky Home, no doubt after Stephen Foster's earlier song of the same name.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 44.8 grains. Diameter: 18.0 mm. Die alignment: 180°.

From New Netherlands Coin Co's. 61st Sale, June 30, 1970, Lot 97. Earlier from B. Max Mehl's sale of the Col. Porter Collection, June 1942, Lot 1259. Previously from William H. Woodin, Waldo C. Newcomer.

 

1884 P-1930 Pattern Cent

Eastman Johnson's Design

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1020     1884 pattern cent. P-1930, J-1722. Rarity-7. Eastman Johnson's "holey" design. Proof-65 (PCGS). Aluminum. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding.

Reverse Design: As preceding.

Surfaces: Reflective light gray with cameo devices. The reverse fields are more deeply mirrored close to the devices. A superb example.

Narrative: The exact purpose of these annular patterns is unknown, however, it has been suggested that the design was to aid the blind in distinguishing these from higher denomination coins of similar size. For more information, see Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, "The Eastman Johnson 'Holey Design' Patterns," June 1963, p. 1644.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 12.0 grains. Diameter: 17.9 mm. Die alignment: 180°.

From our sale of the Armand Champa Collection, May 20, 1972, Lot 969. Illustrated in United States Patterns and Related Issues, by Andrew W. Pollock III, as figure 550.

 

1885/3 P-1950 "Holey Cent" in Silver

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1021     1885 pattern cent. P-1950, J-1740. Rarity-6. Annular (ring-form) Planchet. Proof-64 (PCGS). Silver. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: Similar to the preceding. The central perforation is more evenly formed and has a circle of dentils as ornamentation. The legend and date, 1885/3, are centered in the space between the inner and outer rims.

Reverse Design: Similar to the preceding. The shield is upright and the laurel sprigs have more leaves. There is an inner rim of dentils and the denomination, above, is in larger letters.

Surfaces: Deep mirrored fields and light gold toning highlight this sharply struck gem.

Narrative: The digit 5 is over a 3, one of the few overdates among pattern coinage. The overdate feature is especially prominent, with a flat-top digit 3 below the final 5, giving a flat appearance to the normally curved top of the 5. This may suggest that dies for Johnson's proposal were prepared in 1883.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 53.8 grains. Diameter: 18.0 mm. Die alignment: 180°. Die notes: Numerous die lines are visible on the obverse. The reverse has a crack from the outer border to the inner border, through the right side of N in ONE.

From Abner Kreisberg's "Quality" Sales Corp, November 30, 1970, Lot 1258.

 

Memorable Quality 1896 P-1982 Cent

1022     1896 pattern cent. P-1982, J-1767. Rarity-6+. Shield obverse. Proof-64 (PCGS). Nickel. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: A shield with LIBERTY on a scroll passing over the shield. The motto, E PLURIBUS UNUM, is above, and the date below. Thirteen stars are arranged with seven left and six right. Two poles cross behind the shield with a Liberty cap at the top of the pole to the viewer's left and an eagle on the pole to the right. The eagle's head is centered under S.

Reverse Design: A wreath with stem at 7:00, encircles the denomination, 1 CENT, in a counterclockwise turn. The legend, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, is outside the wreath.

Surfaces: A superb cameo Proof with light gold toning and sharp design details. Far superior to the typical example of this pattern variety, usually quite dull with numerous spots.

Narrative: These patterns, including one-cent and five-cent denominations, were prepared to test various alloys to find one more suitable than the current bronze alloy in use for the one-cent coinage, and the nickel alloy for the five-cent pieces.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 47.2 grains. Diameter: 19.3 mm. Die alignment: 180°. Die notes: Numerous vertical striae are noted on both the obverse and reverse.

Purchased from Stanley Kesselman, August 30, 1971.

 

1896 P-1983 Pattern Cent

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1023     1896 pattern cent. P-1983, J-1768a. Rarity-6. Shield obverse. Proof-64 (PCGS). Bronze. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: As preceding.

Reverse Design: As preceding.

Surfaces: Nearly full mint red, actually a blend of light and deep orange. Faint traces of lilac are visible on both surfaces. This has the appearance that most would describe as full red. Sharply struck with a few very tiny spots, primarily on the reverse. Moderately reflective fields. Possibly brass composition, listed by Andrew Pollock as P-1984.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 47.6 grains. Diameter: 19.3 mm. Die alignment: 180°.

Notes: The Annual Report by the director of the Mint discussed these patterns under the heading "Material for Minor Coins." This report talked about the suitability of various alloys from the artistic and practical point of view. Further, the director reported on a resolution passed on the recommendation of the Committee of Coinage, Weights, and Measures:

"Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be requested to communicate to the House at the commencement of the next session such information as he may have, or may be able to obtain meantime, as to the comparative merits and advantages of pure nickel, nickel alloy, aluminum combined or alloyed with other metals, and of copper bronze as material for our minor coins; and for the purpose of making such information as full and complete as possible the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to have struck such experimental minor coins of the metals above mentioned, pure and in combination with other metals, as he may deem necessary and proper, and is requested to communicate to the House the results and conclusions derived from such experimental coinage."

A Cache of 1896 Patterns

Dave Bowers informed the cataloguer of this lot (Mark Borckardt) that he had bought a very extensive group consisting of dozens of pattern 1896 cents and five-cent pieces in the 1950s from Robert K. Botsford, of Nescopeck, Pennsylvania. These were obtained from the William H. Woodin estate through channels other than the distribution made by a Woodin heir to Abe Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg in the 1940s, and other Woodin distributions. The cache of 1896 patterns had been stored in Berwick, Pennsylvania, for many years, and probably had been acquired by Woodin circa 1908 when he exchanged two 1877 gold $50 patterns back to J.W. Haseltine and Stephen K. Nagy, and received "several crates" of patterns that had been stored for a long time at the Mint. The group of 1896 coins had not been kept well in the meantime, and most were in grades that might be designated as Proof-60 today. There were no choice or gem specimens.

Purchased from Julian Leidman, September 16, 1971.

 

1896 P-1985a Pattern Cent Variety

Discovered by Harry Bass, Unknown to Judd

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1024     1896 pattern cent. P-1985a, J-1768a. Rarity-7. Shield obverse. Proof-65 (PCGS). Bronze. Plain edge. The discovery specimen.

Obverse Design: General style as preceding, but from a different die with minor variations. The eagle's head is under the right side of S. Shown in a 2x enlargement to illustrate the differences.

Reverse Design: As preceding, however, from a different die with minor variations.

Surfaces: An incredible gem Proof with deeply reflective pinkish orange and bright blue surfaces. The devices have considerable lustre although this feature is subdued by the toning. An aesthetically superb example.

Narrative: As noted below, this specific die variety was discovered by Harry Bass among patterns in his collection. As such, it is of special importance in the present sale.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 48.4 grains. Diameter: 19.2 mm. Die alignment: 180°.

Harry W. Bass, Jr. notes: Different obverse and reverse dies from those of J-1768, unlisted.

Purchased from Julian Leidman, September 16, 1971. Illustrated in United States Patterns and Related Issues, by Andrew W. Pollock III, as figure 563.

 

1025     1942 pattern cent. P-2073. Rarity-8. Liberty and Justice. MS-64 BN. Bronze. Plain edge.

Obverse Design: A bust of Miss Liberty faces right, wearing a cap with a ribbon falling to her shoulder. An olive branch is displayed on the cap, behind her ear. Inscribed LIBERTY to the left and JUSTICE to the right, with the date, 1942, below.

Reverse Design: A laurel wreath encloses the legend UNITED STATES MINT, in three lines.

Surfaces: Satiny light olive with traces of mint red around a few letters.

Narrative: The denomination is not stated on this coin, however, it is the size of a one-cent piece, made of bronze, and certainly created during the Mint's attempt to find a suitable copper substitute, which they accomplished, producing the steel cent in 1943. This variety is listed as Rarity-8 by Andrew Pollock, with the presently offered example being the only one listed by him in his census. Others certainly exist, although we do not know the exact number. In any event, this is definitely a rarity, a good companion piece for the specialist in Lincoln cents.

For additional information about this pattern issue, refer to William G. Anderson, "The United States Experimental Cents of 1942," The Numismatist, December 1975, pp. 2643-2648.

Technical Aspects: Weight: 47.1 grains. Diameter: 18.9 mm. Die alignment: 360°.

From Superior's sale of the Dr. Charles Ruby Collection, Part 3, February 10-12, 1975, Lot 879.