US Coins

Simpson and Partrick auctions continue in April

Heritage will continue its offerings of the Bob R. Simpson and Donald G. Partrick collections at its April 22 to 26 auctions, originally set for the Central States Numismatic Society convention and now scheduled for its Dallas headquarters.

The Simpson offerings will build on the $45 million that Heritage’s first three Simpson sales have realized, and consistent with the previous sales, pattern coins are among the top lots.

In contrast to the proliferation of pattern coins seen in the second part of the 19th century, 20th century pattern coins are much rarer. A pattern for James Earle Fraser’s 1913 Indian Head 5-cent coin, listed as Judd 1950 and Pollock 2025 in the pattern references, is one of just four examples traced. It resembles a regular issue, but Fraser’s initial F, which is seen below the date on regular issues, is missing, and the pattern has a slightly wider border.

The catalog entry explains how technological advances rendered patterns unnecessary in the early 20th century writing, “The Janvier reducing lathe purchased by the Mint in 1906 made it possible for authorities to approve coinage designs simply by examining plaster models, casts, and galvanos,” and designs were largely approved based on plaster models.

Fraser took particular interest in making sure that his Native American design worked on a coin, and he had his own electrotype patterns produced, privately, by the Medallic Art Company.

The offered pattern was part of a group struck in early 1913 to test both its adequacy for production and its use in vending machines. Research by Roger Burdette on the Judd 1950 patterns, which he calls “the best version of the pre-production buffalo nickel to survive,” shows that 17 were struck on Jan. 13, 1913, of which six were destroyed. The offered example is graded Proof 66 by Professional Coin Grading Service, has a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker, and was previously offered at a 2013 Legend/Morphy auction, where — then graded Proof 65 — it sold for $195,500 according to PCGS CoinFacts.

Another rare pattern from the Simpson Collection is a 1916 Walking Liberty half dollar, Judd 1995 and Pollock 2057, graded Proof 65, that is the sole example of the variety in private hands. The design is similar to Adolph A. Weinman’s regular issue half dollars that were struck between 1916 and 1947, but features numerous subtle differences. Heritage explains, “The letters in LIBERTY are thinner with the E directly over Liberty’s head. IN GOD WE TRUST is right-aligned, and the date digits are noticeably larger. On the reverse, all legends are further away from the rim and the designer’s monogram is missing. The rock and elements of the eagle are modelled slightly differently than on the regular-issue coins.”

Burdette’s research shows that this pattern was part of a sequence struck between May and November 1916, with this example struck between Oct. 1 and 21.

It was previously offered in 2008 at a Stack’s auction and was offered at Sotheby’s 1954 sale of the Palace Collections of Egypt’s King Farouk. The Simpson example is the finest of just two known, with another circulated example in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, donated in 1963.

Two Continental dollars

Heritage began its offering of the Partrick Collection in 2015 with a nearly $26 million auction. In January 2021, Partrick’s gold 1787 Brasher doubloon brought a hefty $9,360,000.

The upcoming Partrick selections include two 1776 Continental dollars, both representing the Newman 1-B variety, struck in pewter and in brass. The variety was unknown to Eric P. Newman when he published his work on the series in 1952, and Partrick’s pewter example offered, graded Mint State 63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. is considered the discovery coin for the issue.

The word “currency” is misspelled CURENCY and the Newman 1-B variety was struck from the same obverse die as the Newman 1-A and Newman 1-C varieties, with the three variants being different states of the same die.

The issue is increasingly controversial. Traditionally they were thought to have been issued by the Continental Congress in the later part of 1776, replacing the $1 paper note, and that they were issued to circulate in early America. More recent research suggests that they were struck as souvenir medals in England around 1783.

Heritage’s roster lists seven pewter examples of the Newman 1-B, with the finest example graded MS-64 by NGC that last sold for nearly $200,000 in 2015. Partrick’s example was purchased privately from Richard Picker in 1971 for $3,000 and has been off the market since.

Heritage calls it “an impressive and iconic item, with sharply detailed design elements and lightly marked, lustrous surfaces,” concluding, “This coin possesses a combination of high technical quality, strong eye appeal, and intense historic interest.”

Partrick’s brass Continental dollar is one of about dozen known of the Newman 1-B variety. Examples are known on both thin and thick planchets and the offered one — graded Very Fine 25 by NGC and holding a green CAC sticker — is on a thin planchet. Walter Breen has theorized that the brass examples were struck as patterns, but more recent research by Michael Hodder concludes that the brass and pewter issues were struck simultaneously.

Heritage notes “moderate, even wear on the pleasing steel and olive-brown surfaces, with no large or distracting abrasions on either side,” noting its eye appeal despite it being the 12th finest of 12 included on Heritage’s condition census of the brass examples of the variety.

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