Ugly United States coins that should have never been made. The coins two things in common; they’re rare and valuable and all of them are poorly rendered designs.
The pattern coin above is dated 1838 and the design is attributed to William Kneass and Christian Gobrecht. The coin’s obverse bust has more of a manly appearance then the female but it is supposed to be, it’s also rather large and overbearing, not to mention the ill-placed and too small coronet plastered onto the forehead.
The reverse has an eagle that’s not centered correctly and looks too stiff, and is basically a more detailed version of the scrawny “small eagles” on earlier coin types of the late 18 century.
So many things that just don’t work with this design, the obverse bust is too large, with a manly-woman appearance and with scrawny numbers and letters. The hair bands don’t seem to fit into the tight locks of the hair. The Eagle on the reverse is a little rigid but acceptable if we could just get past the obverse bust design.
I am not sure what makes this coin design desirable but I can think of a lot of reasons why it’s not pleasing and was rejected by the U.S. Mint. The bust obverse is too small and the portrait has weak jaws and the neck is too thin or just too short. Furthermore the date is too small and the hair design appears to tight and conservative. The reverse shows several different denominations of other countries, plus the weight and precious metal content and was intended for international trade.
This so-called Amazonian Three Dollar piece was design by William Barber but unlike his Barber design he’s famous for this doesn’t do his talent any justice. The obverse bust is too thick in the neck, the a mass of hair flowing out from under the Liberty Cap throws it off balance, and the face of the bust forehead is too long. The reverse eagle is too small, the letters to large and the eagle feathers looks hairy rather than feathery, and is not graceful enough for a bald eagle. Furthermore the eagle appears to be squawking and has it’s talons reaching up and holding the shield in an unnatural manner.
The obverse design of this 1859 Half Dollar appears to be too rigid and large for the obverse diameter. On the reverse the eagles neck is to fluid and appears to be misshaped and the banner in the eagle’s mouth looks odd. I just get the impression that the eagle is about to fall forward from its lopsided perch.
This 1872 Pattern has a lot of potential but the execution is lacking, people of the time didn’t want bare breast on their coins, and the eagle on the obverse is rendered more like a pet dog than a regal national symbol.
On the reverse the boldness of the eagle’s feathers takes away from the rest of the reverse design and the eagle looks as if it squawking.
This 1854 Gobrecht design has a familiar reverse that’s pleasantly proportioned, however it’s the obverse eagle that poses the problem. The eagle’s neck looks broken and disproportionate as is the size of the head.
The obverse liberty bust has a headband that look more like a part of a jailer’s leg irons and too wide for a regal coronet, almost too industrial. Also there’s too many other design problems going on that creates a cluttered composition. The reverse has the feel of a love token and the eagle has to take a back seat to the rest of the design since it’s such a small part of the overall design. The reverse is just too busy and ornate for a business strike coin.
Lincoln’s head is too small and doesn’t give Lincoln much justice compared to designs accepted on the Lincoln Cent in 1909. It would have been nice to see Lincoln on a nickel but this obviously wasn’t the direction to go. The design is to weak for one of our greatest presidents.
This coin would have made a decent foreign coin but it’s too plain in design to catch the eye, it lacks a motto, it lacks LIBERTY or anything else that the United States Of America stands for. It’s three cents and that’s all it is. If simplicity was the rule then this coin would have won hands down.
Now you have it, the most ugly coins ever conceived by the U.S. Mint engravers and it’s employees. However, these ideas spawned a collector’s paradise of rare and valuable coins so it isn’t all bad. If you want to see some more designs that didn’t make the U.S. Mint grade then check out more US Pattern Coins
If you can think of a more ugly US Coin design please leave a comment.