Legend Rare Coin Auctions will offer 85 Standard Silver patterns
consigned by Texas businessman Bob Simpson, in what Legend is calling
the most complete set of Standard Silver patterns ever assembled, on
Jan. 26 as part of its Regency Auction XX in Las Vegas, Nev.
Simpson is well-known for his pattern collection, which — prior to
the current offering — contained nearly 1,800 of the 2,000 patterns
listed in the most recent edition of United States Pattern Coins
by J. Hewitt Judd, edited by Q. David Bowers.
To build his holdings, Simpson purchased several key pattern
collections in bulk, including the Southern Collection of patterns
that he purchased for $36 million in 2008.
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In her Nov. 18, 2016, Market Report, Legend principal Laura Sperber
stressed that these are not mere duplicates, but rather are part of
the core Simpson collection of patterns.
She explained, “Our good friend and long-time exclusive customer Bob
Simpson is cleaning house again. Before anyone gasps, he is NOT out of
the market and is NOT a net seller. He had been a crazy strong buyer
of anything neat for well over a decade.”
She added that the sale was the result of Simpson refining his
collections. “He bought so many collections and groups of coins year
after year, he never really stopped to look at his holdings. He was
having too much fun. So if he sells a group of coins worth $1-$2
million, that is not even 2% of his holdings. Yes, folks, he is in a
very rarefied orbit,” Sperber wrote.
On Simpson’s involvement with the Standard Silver series, Sperber
explained, “For a while he was adding to the set, but he struggled to
maintain his interest. In the end, he just was not a fan.” She added,
“Apparently, he finally found the time to go through them and do what
he likes to do when a coin has worn out its stay: ‘fire it.’ We assure
you, this is his entire Standard Pattern Collection, he kept NONE.”
Rare, yet affordable
Despite Simpson’s lack of excitement for the series, Legend observes
in the catalog introduction that the Standard Silver issues are ripe
for discovery, writing, “There are some extremely rare, yet affordable
coins in that series. We think that in the manner in which we have
presented the collection, it will inspire some of you to become
pattern collectors yourself.”
The auction house concluded, “Compared to so many other series, the
value of these coins are still in their infancy.”
The Standard Silver patterns were part of a proposal to support the
redemption of fractional currency notes by producing coins with less
silver than contemporary circulating coins. The net result would be
coins that would be worth less than their face value. More than 280
patterns were produced in the Standard Silver series, primarily in
silver, copper and aluminum, and many of these were made available to
contemporary collectors to purchase directly from the U.S. Mint.
Legend points out that the vast number of issues in the series
provides collectors with many different collecting challenges, noting,
“While not every collector can be as ambitious as Mr. Simpson, and try
to collect every issue, there are various subsets that can be fun and
challenging to complete, and will not cost a fortune for great looking coins.”
Variations of Barber’s design
The Simpson consignment focuses on the dimes, quarter dollars and
half dollars designed by Charles Barber and dated 1869 and 1870.
On each coin Liberty’s face fights with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
around the bust and IN GOD WE TRUST in a ribbon below.
Within this primary design type are five major subtypes.
➤ Liberty with a cap and three stars, LIBERTY on ribbon.
➤ Liberty with a cap and three stars, LIBERTY not on ribbon.
➤ Liberty with a cap and two stars.
➤ Liberty with a coronet or tiara and no stars.
➤ Liberty with a headband and one star.
Even though Barber’s various designs were intended to be used on
silver coins, many examples were struck in copper.
One of the most attractive is a copper 1869 Standard Silver pattern
half dollar, Judd 744, graded Proof 67 brown by Professional Coin
Grading Service that carries an estimate of $5,500 to $6,500.
In its description Legend exclaims, “WOW and WILD,” adding, “The
mirrors are also crystal clear, are exceedingly clean, and are ‘in
your face’ intensely reflective. When you twirl this coin all you see
are GEM brown/blue/violet colors [that] explode like neon lights
against the killer mirrors.”
Barber signed the die with a small B that can be seen directly above
the L in LIBERTY on the obverse — a design attribute unique to the
half dollars since the smaller denominations did not have sufficient
space. As is typical, the stars are weakly struck.
On a silver 1870 Standard Silver dime, Judd 855, Legend writes,
“COWABUNGA! This coin has AMAZING toning! First, the mirrors are deep
and do beam from all over,” further articulating, “The highlight of
this coin is monster totally original royal
blue/gold/lime/tangerine/violet colors that circle the obverse.” The
colorful and well-struck silver dime carries an estimate of $3,000 to $3,500.
An 1870 Standard Silver pattern half dollar struck in copper, Judd
959, offers a different take on Liberty, and the example in the
Simpson collection is graded PCGS Proof 66+ brown. Like with other
copper coins in the collection, the color description “brown” does not
accurately reflect the electric green, purple, magenta shades seen on
this half dollar with an estimate of $8,000 to $9,000.
While aluminum was an expensive medal in the mid-19th century,
patterns of many types including the Standard Silver series were
struck in the sturdy metal. An 1870 Standard Silver quarter dollar,
Judd 898, graded PCGS Proof 67 Cameo, serves as a handsome
representative of an aluminum Standard Silver pattern.
Legend reports that Simpson acquired this coin as part of the
record-setting 2008 purchase of the Southern Collection and estimates
it at $15,000 to $17,500, revealing, “At the time, this coin was
figured at $16,500. With quality and rarity like it has, you’d think
it would be worth closer to $25,000!”
The auction will be held at The Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino as
part of the PCGS Member’s Only show.