Pattern coins represent many things. They are traditionally seen as
experiments for new compositions, denominations or designs, but many
were struck directly for marketing to collectors. This was especially
pronounced in the 1870s as the Philadelphia Mint went into overdrive
producing hundreds of pattern types. Some are gorgeous, other are more
modest in accomplishment, but all are collectible. Heritage’s recent
June 8 to 11 Long Beach Expo auction realized $10.7 million and
included a strong group of pattern pieces from this busy decade.
Here’s one of three patterns from the Expo auction that Steve Roach
explores in our July 17 print issue:
1875 Commercial Trade dollar pattern, aluminum,
Judd 1425, Proof 66 Cameo
Though the Trade dollar began production in 1873, that did not stop
the U.S. Mint from creating patterns for the issue in subsequent
years. The Judd 1425 1875 pattern at first glance resembles the
contemporary circulating Trade dollar: both feature a seated
Liberty facing left, the sea at her feet, and she holds an olive
branch in her extended hand.
We examine an unusual example of ‘machine
Another column in the July 24 Coin World examines a VAM marriage
that deserves better.
The pattern makes things busier, with Liberty sitting upon a globe,
flags at her side, and a ship, popularly called the Illogical ship
since the auxiliary sails billow forward while the smoke stack’s smoke
drifts behind the ship.
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Liberty wears short sleeves, making her arms appear more sturdy
(some might say bulky) than on the circulating Trade dollar, and the
reverse of the pattern trades an eagle for a kind of wimpy wreath and
COMMERCIAL DOLLAR spelled out. One of just two pieces known in
aluminum, this one features bright fields and is graded PCGS Proof 66
Cameo. It sold for $64,625.