NGC Certifies Three Rare Gold Patterns

Posted on 10/28/2003

Three extremely rare gold pattern coins from the recently auctioned Randolph S. Rothschild Collection have been graded and encapsulated by NGC.

The top prizes of the late Mr. Rothschild's collection, these coins are each known by just two specimens each in gold, though a few additional specimens are known in lesser metals. The coins were purchased from the Stack's auction by Jay Parrino's The Mint of Kansas City on behalf of an unnamed collector.

Perhaps the most unusual of the three is a pattern eagle coined in 1874, Judd-1373, Pollock-1518. Struck with a larger than normal diameter, this feature was intended to deter the once common practice of hollowing out gold coins and then filling them with less valuable metals of similar weight. This pattern was designed by William Barber for a proposed international coinage. This concept was the brainchild of American inventor Dana Bickford, who persuaded Mint Director Henry Linderman to test his idea. This amazing pattern coin features its value expressed in several currencies of the time, though Bickford's proposal was never adopted for a circulating coin. A beautifully preserved gem, this coin was certified by NGC as PF 65 Ultra Cameo.

The other two pattern coins are equally rare, the only other examples known being the former Byron Reed specimens now impounded in Omaha's Western Heritage Museum. Of matching design, the half eagle and eagle from 1878 again feature the work of U. S. Mint Chief Engraver William Barber. Part of a proposed general revision in the United States coinage during the late 1870s, this project was never seen through to completion. Only these lovely patterns remain.

The half eagle, J-1575/P-1768, is a superb gem and was graded PF-66 Ultra Cameo by NGC. Its companion eagle, J-1579/P-1772, is likewise a gem, grading PF 65 Ultra Cameo. All three rarities served as the plate coins for David W. Akers'important 1975 on United States gold pattern coins.

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