Rediscovery of Unique US Coin with a Royal Past Surprises Submitter
Posted on 5/11/2021
In US numismatics, there are only a small number of truly unique coins. Being highly prized, their whereabouts are almost always well-known. A curious exception is the 1871 Standard Silver Half Dime pattern struck in copper-nickel, commonly referred to by its catalog number, Judd-1067a.
Only one example of this Standard Silver pattern coin was struck in copper-nickel. According to uspatterns.com, it was owned by Judson Brenner and displayed at the 1914 ANS exhibition. In 1919, it was sold to Virgil Brand, and after his death, it was consigned by his son Armin Brand to dealer B.G. Johnson. The coin last appeared in 1954, in the auction of the collection of King Farouk of Egypt. Then... it disappeared.
|1871 J-1067a Half Dime graded NGC PF 60 and pedigreed to the Farouk CollectionClick images to enlarge|
Early in 2021, the coin was submitted to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) by well-known dealer Nick Grovich, owner of American Federal Coin & Bullion in Carefree, Arizona. His longtime client had inherited the coin from his father, whom he described as an avid pattern collector active in the early 1980s. According to his son, he was never a buyer of expensive items or great rarities. The inclusion of a long-lost unique rarity was not expected. The coin was sent to NGC unattributed.
Visual inspection and an uncharacteristically soft strike immediately suggested to NGC graders that the coin might not be the more common silver alloy. Metallurgical analysis was performed by NGC to confirm the composition: 70% copper and 30% nickel. A thick haze on the coin was removed by conservators at Numismatic Conservation Services™ (NCS®), allowing the coin to be easily matched to a 1911 photograph of the unique coin taken by Edgar Adams.
After conservation, the coin graded NGC PF 60, and it is now being offered by GreatCollections in a sale that concludes June 20, 2021.
Standard Silver patterns comprise an extensive subcategory of US pattern coinage. Issued between 1869 and 1871, there are diverse designs, numerous denominations and a variety of metal compositions (mostly silver, bronze and aluminum). Ostensibly, they were part of a proposal for smaller, lighter coinage struck in 90% silver with intrinsic value below their face value — a scheme aimed at halting the hoarding of silver coinage. Initially, they were issued in sets.
The variety and number of Standard Silver coins suggests that many were made to appeal to collectors, and perhaps this is most especially the case with the unique Judd-1067a. The coin features Chief Mint Engraver James Longacre’s popular seated Indian princess design. Longacre had died at the start of 1869, and pattern coins were created in the years after his death recasting some of his previously unused designs.
Further, it is a half dime. While this denomination continued to be struck until 1873, it was being replaced in circulation by the nickel five-cent piece, and there were no serious plans to introduce a new design of this coin as late as 1871. Last, it is struck in copper-nickel. As with other Standard Silver patterns struck in this metal, it’s a one-off. All signs suggest that this coin was made to be an object of desire for collectors.
Indeed, unique coins have a special allure all unto their own. To possess one is to have the entire mintage. They make a collection special — different from every other. The rediscovery of this coin after its 67-year long disappearance was a source of great delight to NGC as well as its unsuspecting submitter. Now, a new owner will add his or her name to its illustrious pedigree.
Related Link: NGC Coin Explorer: 1871 J-1067a Half Dime
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