Rare 1916 Walking Liberty half dollar pattern sale
- Published: Aug 1, 2013, 8 PM
The Judd 1993 variety of 1916 Walking Liberty half dollar pattern is the only variety struck from the regular reverse die design used for general circulation.
One of only two examples known of a 1916 Walking Liberty half dollar pattern will cross the auction block Aug. 9 in Rosemont, Ill.
The pattern is cataloged as Judd 1993 in United States Pattern Coins, Experimental & Trial Pieces by J. Hewitt Judd, edited by Q. David Bowers. It is one of 2,975 lots of coins and other materials to be offered Aug. 8 and 9 in five floor sessions by Heritage Auctions at the Hyatt Rosemont, 6350 N. River Road.
Cataloged as Lot 5975 in the sale, the pattern is one of 474 numismatic rarities to be offered during Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night Aug. 9.
A 17.5 percent buyer’s fee will be added to the final closing hammer price of each lot won.
When the Judd 1993 pattern is offered Aug. 9, it will be in a Professional Coin Grading Service holder, with the coin certified Proof 30 and the holder bearing a green sticker from Certified Acceptance Corp.
The same example of Judd 1993 was last offered at public auction by Heritage Auctions in August 2004, when the piece was graded by NGC as Very Fine 30.
Six different variations of 1916 Walking Liberty half dollar patterns have been identified, with approximately 20 examples extant combined, across all classifications.
Five of the known examples are held in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History, leaving approximately 15 examples available to collectors.
Only one of the six known varieties, Judd 1993, was struck from a distinctive obverse die and the regular reverse die design used for general circulation.
Two examples are believed known to exist of Judd 1993, formerly misdescribed as Judd 1797a, according to Saul Teichman from USPatterns.com.
The two examples are the PCGS Proof 30 piece to be offered Aug. 9 by Heritage Auctions and an example once owned by King Farouk I of Egypt. The pattern pedigreed to Farouk was last sold at public auction by Stack’s in July 2008. The pattern offered in the Stack’s auction was graded Proof 61 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.
Judd 1993 is distinguishable by the inscription LIBERTY appearing with larger letters than used on the adopted design and in the right obverse field. The legend is even more distinctive with the crossbar of the T appearing above the top right of the R and top left of the Y.
According to the auction lot description, it is believed that the Judd 1993 patterns were struck sometime between Aug. 21 and Sept. 20, 1916.
“The Judd 1993 variety was not listed in previous editions of the Judd reference,” according to the auction lot description, but it “is similar to the older Judd 1797a listing, except for the addition of Adolph A. Weinman’s AW monogram on the reverse.”
Sculptor Weinman’s overlapping designer’s initials appear in the field on the reverse to the right of the R in DOLLAR.
Inclusion of the designer’s initials was approved by Treasury Secretary William G. McAdoo on Aug. 10, 1916, according to the Judd pattern book.
A seven-figure rarity
Heritage’s Platinum Night boasts a significant number of major numismatic rarities.
Among the rarities offered is the Mickley-Hawn-Queller specimen of the original Class I 1804 Draped Bust dollar, Lot 5699, PCGS Proof 62. Heritage devotes 33 pages of the auction catalog to this lot. Heritage offered the exact same coin in April 2008, where it sold for $3,737,500. In the April 2008 auction, it was offered in an NGC holder where it was graded Proof 62.
Fifteen examples of the 1804 Draped Bust dollar are known — eight Class I examples, called “originals”; one Class II restrike; and six Class III restrikes. Nine of the 15 known in all classes are in private hands.
According to the lot description:
“It is widely believed that the [Class I] 1804 $1 was not minted until about 1834, when the State Department ordered special sets of the coins struck specifically for diplomatic purposes.
“Records indicated that several of the Class II and Class III 1804 silver dollars were minted after that. In fact, Mint records from 1804 indicated a delivery figure of 19,570 silver dollars, though it is commonly held in numismatic circles that these were all leftover coins dated 1803.”
The lone extant Class II restrike was struck over an 1857, Bern, Switzerland, shooting taler. It is held in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History.
The auction also offers a 1794 Flowing Hair dollar, the Bowers-Borckardt 1 variety (Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States, A Complete Encyclopedia by Q. David Bowers, with Mark Borckardt). The coin, lot 5683 in the auction, is graded PCGS Fine 12 and is credited as coming from a “midwest naval officer’s collection of early dollars.”
The silver bullion used to coin the 1794 dollars was provided by the first director of the U.S. Mint, David Rittenhouse, who received the entire mintage of this date and distributed the coins through private channels. Prominent collector and researcher Martin Logies has identified 134 distinct survivors from the small mintage in his exhaustive census in The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794, according to the lot description.
San Francisco treasures
The auction also offers an 1855-S Seated Liberty, With Arrows quarter dollar, the Briggs 1a variety as cataloged in The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of United States Liberty Seated Quarters by Larry Briggs.
The coin, Lot 5593, is unique by the variety. It is graded NGC Proof 64 and has a green CAC sticker. This Branch Mint Proof coin was struck at the San Francisco Mint and is pedigreed to the facility’s first superintendent, Lewis Aiken Birdsall.
Of more modern vintage is a Zerbe Specimen 1921-S Morgan dollar graded Specimen 65 by PCGS. It is one of just 24 struck, and only four or five are known today. They were struck at the request of Farran Zerbe, and, as a July 1955 article in the ANA’s publication The Numismatist stated, he purchased the small production of Proof San Francisco Mint dollars and later handed them out to his coin collecting friends.
The description notes that the only area of strike softness is the eagle’s breast, “which is always a bit flat, suggesting that the detail may have been incomplete on the die.”
One of the most beautiful coins in the auction is an 1850 Seated Liberty quarter dollar graded Proof 68 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. It is the finest of two or three known examples and was formerly in the collection of John Jay Pittman where David Akers characterized it as one of the most beautiful coins in Pittman’s entire collection.
When Akers offered this coin as part of his auctions of the Pittman Collection in 1998, he wrote: “The quality and beauty of this coin are so extraordinary that no written description can possibly do it justice. The strike is absolutely full and there is a high wire rim, especially prominent on the obverse in the upper right quadrant. The fields are deep mirrors and there is great proof luster under the superb toning which is a fiery reddish-gold, violet, blue, and gold.”
At its last trip to auction in 2008 it brought $460,000.
The auction also features an 1845 Seated Liberty quarter dollar graded Proof 66 by NGC, again formerly in the Pittman Collection. This example also features deep toning, with an obverse in reddish-gold with blue and violet at the periphery. It is one of five or six known and was sold in 2008 as part of Heritage’s offering of the Phil Kaufman Collection where it realized $195,500. Heritage offered it a year later at auction where it sold for $149,500.
Another highlight in the auction is an 1851 Schultz & Co. pioneer gold $5 piece, cataloged as Kagin 1 in Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States by Donald Kagin. The coin, listed as lot 5957, is graded PCGS About Uncirculated 53, in a holder bearing a green CAC sticker.
Schultz & Co., began in September or October 1850 as, not an assaying firm, but a brass foundry. Judge G.W. Schultz provided the reputation and financial backing for metalworker William T. Garratt who had the production skills.
According to the lot description: “An assay by Augustus Humbert showed that the Schultz & Co. five dollar coins, far from being ‘Pure California Gold’ as the reverse legend proclaimed, were alloyed with copper (Garratt gave the figure at 10%, ‘just enough to make the coin hard enough to wear’), and further, underweight; when word spread, the coins’ reputation went to tatters, and a more favorable assessment made at the Philadelphia Mint by William E. DuBois in 1851 came too late.
“Many of the Schultz & Co. coins were destroyed, and Schultz’s coining operation was halted by the California Legislature’s prohibition on the striking of private gold coinage on April 21, 1851.”
For more information about the Aug. 8 and 9 sale, visit Heritage Auctions online at www.ha.com; write the firm at 3500 Maple Ave., 17th Floor, Dallas, TX 75219-3941; or telephone Heritage at 800-872-6467.
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