US Coins

Rau Collection patterns in Heritage CSNS Auction

Showcasing the diversity of collectible pattern coins, nearly 250 pieces from the collection of Michigan's Bill Rau will be offered at Heritage’s April 25 to 29 auctions held in conjunction with the Central States Numismatic Society 79th Annual Convention in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Rau's collecting interests are diverse, but his numismatic collecting focus was U.S. pattern issues — because of both their rarity and their interesting designs.

Many issues trade infrequently and are represented by only a few examples; to bid realistically, Rau would track auction prices realized, as the series has no traditional price guide. J. Hewitt Judd’s United States Pattern, Experimental and Trial Pieces and Andrew W. Pollock’s United States Patterns and Related Issues were also among sources informing him on the series, and his collection represents the amazing diversity that patterns offers. 

Bouvet’s odd pattern

An interesting piece from the Rau Collection that is not a product of the U.S. Mint is an 1849 $10 eagle pattern in copper graded Proof 63 brown by NGC that was likely struck in France by French engraver Louis Charles Bouvet. Bouvet signed his work at the base of the neck BOUVET F. in the tradition of European engravers of the time, the F standing for the Latin term Fecit. 

Mint Director Robert M. Patterson reached out to Bouvet as a possible replacement for Longacre and it is believed that these coins were struck at the Paris Mint in 1849. The French Mint’s signature CUIVRE is reportedly stamped on the edge, which is not visible in the NGC holder.

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Gold expert Doug Winter observed in a May 1982 article in the American Numismatic Association’s publication The Numismatist that the resulting pattern was a bit sloppy in its execution. Winter wrote that the finished designs “show all the marks of an artist rushed by a bureaucrat. The eagle looks conspicuously malnourished while the portrait of Liberty is far too sedate.” The small wreath floating above the eagle’s head is a particularly odd passage. 

Of the eight Bouvet patterns reportedly struck, only three or four examples are thought to exist today. This example was once part of the famed pattern cabinet of Egypt’s King Farouk and offered at Sotheby’s 1954 sale of the Palace Collections of Egypt. It is separated in the Judd book from issues struck by the U.S. Mint and listed as Judd C-1849-1.

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