US Coins

Nifty price on 1875 Commercial dollar pattern

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:

The Lot:

1875 Commercial Trade dollar pattern, aluminum, Judd 1425, Proof 66 Cameo

The Price:


The Story:

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.

An unusual example of “machine doubling”We examine an unusual example of ‘machine doubling’: 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.

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