US Coins

Rarely seen 1916 pattern dime in Bonhams June 2 auction

A pattern 1916 Winged Liberty Head dime is one of the highlights of Bonhams’ June 2 auction in Los Angeles. 

At first glance the design reveals few differences from the circulation strikes. Indeed, it’s this similarity of the pattern piece to regular issue 1916 Winged Liberty Head dimes (or Mercury dimes, as the design is frequently called) that likely allowed this example to circulate for years before being spotted by a sharp-eyed collector. 

It is graded Proof 25 by Professional Coin Grading Service and carries a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker indicating quality within the grade. 

The piece is certified as Proof since patterns of this era were originally struck as Proofs, distinguished from business strikes intended for circulation. A pattern coin might lose its original Proof surfaces, but does not lose its Proof designation even when well-worn, as is the case here. 

The pattern is numbered Judd 1983 in United States Pattern Coins, Experimental & Trial Pieces by J. Hewitt Judd, edited by Q. David Bowers. 

Comparison between the pattern and the regular issue shows multiple differences. Most obvious are pellets between the words IN GOD and WE TRUST on the obverse of the pattern and the absence of designer Adolph A. Weinman’s initials to the right of Liberty’s neck. 

Bonhams notes, “For future identification, a tiny lateral mark is near the midpoint of Liberty’s neck, a thin vertical scratch is near the top of the torch.” 

The firm characterizes the coin as “exceedingly rare” and provides an estimate of $42,000 to $45,000.

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