Early Seated Half Dollar Patterns
1838 P50C Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-76A Restrike, Pollock-82, R.8

Nearly medallic alignment. The obverse is similar to the adopted design with only slight differences. The reverse, however, is noticeably different, with a spread-winged eagle that holds four arrows and a laurel branch. Struck in silver with a reeded edge193 grains.

Pollock notes that the reverse design by Christian Gobrecht is based on a mica drawing (No. 39) reproduced in Elvira Clain-Stefanelli's article "From the Drawingboard of a Coin-Engraver" in the 1991 ANA Anthology. Ms. Clain-Stefanelli believed this reverse design was intended for the reverse of the quarter eagle.
Only two pieces of the reeded edge variant are believed known. The USPatterns.com website lists them as the Garrett-Bass specimen, certified as PR64 by NGC, and the present Witham-Queller coin.

PR66 $23,000.00 (Jul 30, 2009 HA.com)
1838 P50C Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-79a, Pollock-86, R.7

The obverse has the Seated Liberty design, close to that adopted for circulation strikes, with Judd's "straight date" and the word LIBERTY incused on the shield. The reverse shows Gobrecht's Flying Eagle design, with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA on the upper rim and HALF DOLLAR at the lower margin. Struck in silver with a reeded edge.

PR66 $19,550.00 (Apr 29, 2009 HA.com)
1838 P50C Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-77 Restrike, Pollock-85, High R.7

Liberty seated on a rock with shield and pole. A scroll draped across the shield has the inscription LIBERTY in incuse letters. Thirteen stars around and the date below. Eagle with wings spread holding an olive branch and four arrows. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around and the denomination HALF DOLLAR below. Struck in copper with a plain edge.

All examples seen of this extremely rare pattern show indications of extensive die rust. Judd-77 is a restrike issue produced for sale to collectors in the 1870s. USPatterns.com states that four pieces are known to collectors today.
PR66 Red and Brown $24,150.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1838 P50C Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-78 Restrike, Pollock-84, High R.7

Liberty seated on a rock with shield and pole. A scroll draped across the shield has the inscription LIBERTY in incuse letters. Thirteen stars around and the date below. Eagle with wings spread holding an olive branch and four arrows. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around and the denomination HALF DOLLAR below. Medallic turn. Struck in copper with a reeded edge.

Judd-78 is a restrike issue, with all known examples showing evidence of extensive die rust. The issue is extremely rare, with only four examples extant. Exactly half of the known population is currently impounded in museum collections, leaving only two coins available for collectors. This piece is so rare that it was missing in most of the great pattern collections of the past, including Linderman, Parmelee, Woodside, Woodin, Farouk, and Lohr.

PR65 Brown $24,150.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1838 P50C Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-80 Restrike, Pollock-87, High R.7

The obverse design is a slightly modified Seated Liberty motif, with the rock larger, the stars spaced differently, and Liberty's drapery rearranged. The word LIBERTY is incused on the scroll. The date is in the exergue. The reverse features a "defiant" eagle, clutching an olive branch and six arrows, with the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around and HALF DOL. below. Struck in silver with a reeded edge.

Experts agree Judd-80 is a restrike issue, coined long after 1838. Andrew Pollock states the issue was coined in 1858 or later, but allows for the possibility that some original strikings may exist. USPatterns.com's experts doubt that any originals exist and believe the reverse die was not even completed until the late 1860s or early 1870s. A. Loudon Snowden mentions finding a large group of dies and hubs on hand when he assumed the position of chief coiner. Per Snowden, "Among the number were several from which no pieces are known to have been struck. Many of the devices were beautiful in design and exquisite in execution. This was particularly the case with a dollar and half dollar hub by Gobrecht."

Snowden asserted that these items were destroyed in the spring of 1869, but the veracity of this statement is dubious. A hub trial of the eagle on the reverse of Judd-80 survives in the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian. It is listed as Pollock-3058. Pollock states that the hub used to strike this trial still exists. It is fascinating to think the half dollar hub Snowden mentions might have been this very hub of the Judd-80 design. It would have been a simple matter to use such a hub to create dies for this beautiful pattern in 1869, just the time frame envisioned by USPatterns.com for the completion of the die.

In support of the theory that Judd-80 had a late production date, the piece was completely unknown before 1875. The first auction appearance was in the Cohen Collection (Edward Cogan, 10/1875), lot 420. Cogan's described the lot as, "1838 Half Dollar. Liberty seated. Rev. Flying Eagle, holding in its talons six arrows and an olive branch. Underneath, Half Dollar. This variety has never before been offered at auction. Only two or three are known to exist, rarer than either of the preceding. Beautiful proof." Dealer John W. Haseltine purchased the lot for $10.50. Haseltine seems to have had an affinity for this design.

We believe only three or four pieces exist, nearly the same estimate Cogan made 133 years ago, and the present example is one of the finest.

PR65 $29,900.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1838 P50C Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-81 Restrike, Pollock-88, Low R.7

The obverse has Christian Gobrecht's Seated Liberty design, without drapery, surrounded by 13 stars, and the date below the base. LIBERTY has incuse letters. The reverse has an eagle flying to the left, holding six arrows in its left claw, and an olive branch in its hidden right claw. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA follows the border from 8 o'clock clockwise to 4 o'clock, with HALF DOL. at the lower border. Struck in copper with a reeded edge.

It is thought that six to eight examples of this variety are known in copper, and they were produced in the late 1860s or early 1870s. The first known auction appearance was in the 1875 Cogan sale of the Colonel Cohen Collection. Today, three of those known are in museums--the Smithsonian Institution, the Connecticut State Library, and the Western Heritage Museum--reducing the available population for collectors.

An unattributed comment at USPatterns.com suggests that the reverse die was actually a creation of the restrike period: "To my knowledge, no originals were ever made using this reverse die. In fact, I believe that this die was actually finished many years later either in the late 1860s or early 1870s."

PR64 Brown $12,650.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1839 P50C Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-102 Restrike, Pollock-113, High R.7

The obverse is struck from a regular 1839-dated Seated Liberty, With Drapery die, but the reverse has the Flying Eagle design also used on Judd-100. Struck in silver with a reeded edge.

The Judd-100 and Judd-102 coins share the same extensively cracked, rusty reverse and other similarities. that indicate a striking period--or restriking period--in the 1870s, the free-wheeling Mint days under Director Henry R. Linderman.

A single unique example, Judd-102a, of this die pairing with a plain edge was listed in the King Farouk catalog, but it may be a misdescription and is now unconfirmed.

Another interesting numismatic side note, with which we wholeheartedly agree, comes from the Bowers and Merena cataloger of the Bass coin below, who notes that "this pattern variety should be of interest as a peripheral item for the Gobrecht dollar specialist." It is, in effect, a "Gobrecht half dollar" that utilizes one of the many intermediate designs that were produced by several artists on the way to final designs for the Gobrecht silver dollars and the Seated Liberty halves that followed.

The weight is 192.0 or 192.1 grains, the diameter is 1.20 in., and the die alignment is 360 degrees ("medal turn"). Apparently all of the pieces known are in this alignment. The weight further indicates a striking period sometime after 1853.

PR66 $32,200.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1839 P50C Half Dollar, Judd-103 Restrike, Pollock-115, R.8

The obverse is of the regular-issue Seated Liberty half, With Drapery, of 1839, and the reverse is the Medium Letters die, as seen on the 1840 issue. Struck in copper with a reeded edge.

Another fantasy piece struck long after the date on the die, probably in the 1870s, for sale to collectors. Only two examples are known of this R.8 pattern, and one of them is impounded--presumably permanently--in the Connecticut State Museum Collection.

Like some of the related pieces of this period, Stewart Witham has counted the edge reeds and gotten a total of 152. According to USPatterns.com, "according to a reed count listing from Bill Bugert of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club, [that] means they were likely struck some time between 1861 & 1871. We believe the actual date is closer to the latter date."

PR66 Brown $69,000.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
Source for information and pictures courtesy of  Heritage Coin Auctions
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