Nearly 250 pieces from the collection of Michigan's Bill Rau will be
offered in Heritage’s April 25 to 29 auctions, held in conjunction
with the Central States Numismatic Society Convention in Schaumburg, Illinois.
Rau's numismatic collecting focus, U.S. pattern issues, showcases
the rarity and diversity of interesting designs in this area of
Once part of the famed pattern cabinet of
Egypt’s King Farouk, Rau's example of William Barber’s popular “Sailor
Head” design, struck in copper, is the unique plain edge variant
listed as Judd 1463a (as cataloged in J. Hewitt Judd’s United
States Pattern, Experimental and Trial Pieces). The coin is
graded Proof 62 red and brown by Professional Coin Grading Service.
Barber’s design was likely intended for a Trade dollar, but was
never adopted, and examples are also known in silver and copper with
Isn’t there more to talk about at a show than
grades? Brad Karoleff laments the changing nature of
conversations at shows, which have veered toward incessant
discussions of grade. Also this week, some points to consider before bidding.
Heritage writes, “The design elements are razor-sharp throughout
and the reflective fields show only minor hairlines and contact marks,
with a mix of original red and light brown patina. A patch of dark
amber carbon appears on Liberty’s cheek, possibly the result of King
Farouk’s efforts to improve his copper coins many years ago.”
Farouk was fond of cleaning his coins, and many of his patterns,
especially his copper issues, show evidence of his efforts.
After exiting Farouk's collection in Sotheby’s 1954 sale of the
Palace Collections of Egypt, it was later offered at Bowers and
Merena’s 1999 offering of the Harry W. Bass Jr. Collection where it
was purchased by Rau.
Vermeule calls Liberty’s diademed head “very Victorian in its pretty
interpretation of Roman classicism,” observing “rough, moplike hair
and the combing of heavy strands into a bun at the back.”
The classicism observed by Vermeule is seen throughout American art
of the mid-19th century. American sculptor Hiram Powers’ marble
sculpture of a personification of “America” was conceived about 1850
to 1854, and an example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, carved
after 1854, shows the influence that this classical revival had on
contemporary engravers, as on Barber.
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The subject of a beautiful, classical woman representing America was
well-received by contemporary audiences, and the Powers sculpture’s
label adds, “ ‘America’ was among the most popular of Powers’s
idealized busts, and he reaped a steady profit from it, replicating it
at least twenty-eight times.”