US Coins

1872 Amazonian quarter dollar crazy patterns

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 latest print issue:

The Lot:

1872 Amazonian quarter dollar pattern, copper, Judd 1196, Proof 66 red and brown

The Price:


The Story:

William Barber’s design known as the Amazonian was used for the quarter dollar, half dollar and dollar denominations in 1872. It received its famous moniker in 1890 at the sale of the Lorin G. Parmelee Collection.

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The Amazonian name references the seated figure of Liberty’s bare-breasted pose — along with her long sword — though she contrasts her boldness with a tender moment as she touches the head of an eagle.

The reverse’s eagle is particularly hearty and this collector favorite is a pattern that shows the senior Barber at his best and most creative. This same reverse was used in a set of 1872 gold patterns that also bear the Amazonian name, though they depict a different, non-Amazonian obverse bust of Liberty with a distinctive cap and long ponytail.

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Heritage offered a gorgeous quarter pattern, listed as Judd 1196 in United States Pattern Coins by J. Hewitt Judd, graded Proof 66 red and brown by Professional Coin Grading Service, which sold for $70,500. The auctioneer noted that it may have been in the famous collection of Egypt’s King Farouk, though the absence of a plated catalog for that collection or a more extensive provenance for the subject coin means that that connection may be lost to history.

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