US Coins

Specialized patterns sets in auction

Two of collector and numismatic author David Cassel’s collections will be offered by Heritage Auctions in conjunction with the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Ill., in August.

Cassel is the author of the 2000 reference United States Pattern Postage Currency Coins, and the auction offerings will include his U.S. patterns struck in aluminum and his U.S. postage currency patterns.

Patterns are experimental pieces produced to test new designs, compositions, denominations and coinage concepts. Some patterns become approved coins while other patterns are never adopted. Both of Cassel’s specialities fall into the latter category.

Postage currency patterns were produced following the hoarding of regular issue circulating coinage during the Civil War. 

The proposed metallic postage currency was intended to redeem the small-denomination postal currency paper notes that Congress had authorized as emergency monetary issues to stand in for hoarded regular coinage. The notes themselves turned out to be a more practical solution than any new form of coinage would be.

Among Cassel’s postage currency pattern coins are several varieties known by only one or two examples.

Cassel’s collection includes an 1863 dime pattern, Judd 326b, graded Professional Coin Grading Service Proof 64 red and brown; 1863 dime pattern, Judd 331A, PCGS Proof 64 brown, unique in copper; and an 1868 dime pattern, Judd 645, PCGS Proof 64 red and brown. (The pieces in Cassel’s collections are attributed by Judd number as cataloged in United States Pattern Coins by J. Hewitt Judd, edited by Q. David Bowers.)

??The Judd 326b pattern is one of just two examples known struck in copper with a plain edge.

The composition was originally believed to be billon — an alloy predominantly made of copper with a small amount of silver — but confirmation of the pure copper composition was made through Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis.

The only other example known is graded Proof 65 red and brown by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. It was offered twice in 2012, in January and April, by Heritage, but did not sell in either auction.

The Judd 326b obverse features a shield with crossed arrows and a wreath with EXCHANGED FOR / U.S. NOTES around. The reverse is inscribed POSTAGE CURRENCY / ACT JULY 1862 around with 10 / CENTS / 1863 at center. 

??Before being acquired by Cassel at auction in 1997, the Judd 331A pattern was previously owned by such prominent collectors as R. Coulton Davis, Virgil Brand, King Farouk of Egypt, Lester Merkin, and Milton R. Friedberg.

The unique pattern in copper with reeded edge features the regular issue Seated Liberty dime obverse design paired with a reverse inscribed POSTAGE CURRENCY / ACT JULY 1862 around with 10 / CENTS / 1863 at center. 

??Cassel believes the 1868-dated postage currency dime pattern, Judd 645, is actually the result of a Mint error caused by a small 8 punch inadvertently employed when punching into the die where a 3 should be.

Cassel’s example was once in the famed Garrett Collection.

Aluminum patterns

In addition to collecting postage currency patterns, Cassel also collected patterns of various designs and periods whose shared connection is that they are made of aluminum, which was considered an exotic metal in the 19th century.

Cassel’s aluminum patterns include an 1880 Goloid Metric dollar pattern, Judd 1653, graded Proof 66 Cameo by Professional Coin Grading Service; a PCGS Proof 66 Cameo 1885 Snowden dollar pattern, Judd 1749; and a PCGS Proof 66 1885 Coronet double eagle pattern, Judd 1756.

??The Judd 1653 1880 Goloid Metric dollar pattern is one of at least four known examples struck in aluminum. The Judd 1653 piece was designed by U.S. Mint Engraver William Barber and bears an obverse portrait of Liberty based on Mint Engraver George T. Morgan’s head of Liberty with Phrygian cap as used on the J-1563 dollar pattern from 1878.

In an effort to quell the rivalry between gold and silver as monetary metals, eccentric Philadelphia inventor Dr. William Wheeler Hubbell filed a patent application in May 1876 for his “dream” coinage composition that he named “goloid” and hoped to see one day employed in the production of the nation’s coinage. 

The suggested composition of gold, silver and copper for the regular goloid alloy was in such proportions that the silver would bear to the gold a ratio of 24 to 1. Ten percent copper would be added for strength. 

The goloid composition factored to be 3.6 percent gold, 86.4 percent silver and 10 percent copper, according to Andrew W. Pollock III.  

There was also a variation of the regular goloid alloy having a silver-gold ratio of 16.1 to 1. Patterns eventually struck at the Philadelphia Mint in the goloid variant are called “goloid metric dollars.” 

Regular goloid dollar pattern coins have their weights expressed in grains, while goloid metric dollars coins show their weights in grams. Examples of the goloid and goloid metric pattern dollars were struck dated 1878, 1879, and 1880.

??Approximately eight to 10 are known of the 1885 Snowden dollar pattern in aluminum.

To thwart counterfeiting, Philadelphia Mint Supt. Col. A. Loudon Snowden initiated experimentation using a tripartite edge collar to impart a raised edge design featuring E PLURIBUS UNUM and stars. The patterns otherwise feature the standard Morgan dollar designs. Success was reached on June 12, 1885, with production reaching 80 to 100 coins per minute.

Snowden transmitted the results by letter to Mint Director Horatio Burchard.

Snowden’s edge collar experimentation was never put into practice during the 19th century. Burchard departed the Mint in mid-1885 and Snowden left the Mint’s employ the same year.

A tripartite edge collar wouldn’t be resurrected for production until 1907 with the execution of the Saint-Gaudens Roman Numerals $20 gold double eagles.

??Cassel’s 1885 Coronet design double eagle pattern in aluminum is the finer of two known examples. The other is graded PCGS Proof 64. 

According to, “Although listed as a regular die trial piece, these were more likely deliberately struck for sale to collectors as part of complete aluminum sets.”

For more information, visit the Heritage Auctions website at

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