1863 10C Ten Cents, Judd-325, Pollock-390, Low R.6
The obverse design features the heraldic shield with arrows, inside an inverted laurel wreath, with the inscription EXCHANGED FOR U.S. NOTES around. The reverse shows the denomination 10 CENTS in two lines above the date, with the inscriptions POSTAGE CURRENCY above, and ACT JULY 1862 below. Struck in standard silver alloy, with a plain edge. However, in his groundbreaking study United States Pattern Postage Currency Coins, David Cassel tested examples of this issue and consistently found that the coins tested failed to match the standard 90% silver, 10% copper composition. The composition varied from 88% silver, 12% copper to 96.1% silver, 3.9% copper.
The POSTAGE CURRENCY issues were intended to redeem small denomination postal currency notes during the Civil War. Hoarding of regular coinage created a catastrophic shortage of small change in the national economy. Judd-325 was coined using several weight standards (three different standards according to Cassel, four according to Pollock), all lighter than the standard dime. It was hoped that the lighter-weight coins would circulate more readily than their standard counterparts. Fractional currency proved to be a more practical solution.
Interestingly, the obverse die used on Judd-325 was also used to strike another issue, Judd-646, dated 1868. A number of prominent die cracks are visible on the present specimen. David Cassel has determined that examples of Judd-646 are from an earlier state of the die than Judd-325. In light of this evidence, some researchers have concluded that Judd-325 is a restrike issue, created in the time period after 1868. Alternatively, Cassel believes Judd-646 was actually minted in 1863, the result of a Mint error when a small 8 punch was inadvertently substituted for the 3 in the date. Cassel cites the set of coins presented to Salmon P. Chase in May 1863, which included examples of Judd-325. While there is much confusion surrounding this issue, the presentation set does establish that at least some examples of Judd-325 and Judd-646 were coined during May 1863.
PR64 $2,530.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1863 10C Ten Cents, Judd-326A, Pollock-394, High R.6
The obverse features the heraldic shield with arrows, surrounded by an inverted laurel wreath, with the inscription EXCHANGED FOR U.S. NOTES around. The reverse shows the denomination 10 CENTS in two lines above the date, with the inscriptions POSTAGE CURRENCY and ACT JULY 1862 around. Struck in billon with a plain edge. In 12 coins tested by SEM-EDX analysis, David Cassel found the composition varied from a low of 9.4% silver, 90.6% copper to a high of 39.2% silver, 60.8% copper.
The Civil War hoarding of metal coins began in December 1861 with the gold issues, and in that same month banks suspended specie payments. Silver coins soon followed, and by July 1862 even copper-nickel cents had disappeared from commerce. The Postage Currency pieces were designed to redeem small denomination postal currency notes. In the end, fractional currency was found to be a more practical solution. Those low-denomination "shinplasters" were supplemented, unsatisfyingly so, by an emergency private coinage of (mostly) bronze and copper Civil War tokens and store cards, as merchants desperately tried to keep sufficient currency in circulation.
PR64 $2,760.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1863 10C Ten Cents, Judd-330A, Pollock-401, High R.7
The obverse features a heraldic shield with arrows, framed by an inverted laurel wreath, with the inscription EXCHANGED FOR U.S. NOTES around. The reverse shows the denomination 10 CENTS in two lines above the date, with the peripheral inscriptions POSTAGE CURRENCY and ACT JULY 1862. Struck with a medal turn, in cupro-nickel with a reeded edge.
Various weight and metal combinations on the Postage Currency pieces were experimented with in the hope that the coins would circulate because of their lower intrinsic value. David Cassel examined the present coin in his study United States Pattern Postage Currency Coins. Its weight is 33.29 grains; SEM-EDX analysis determined its composition to be 76.15% copper, 23.26% nickel, and 0.59% iron. The purpose of the iron is a mystery, as its usual function is to strengthen a weaker metal. A cupronickel coin, such as the present example, should not need strengthening.
PR64 $4,887.50 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1863 10C Ten Cents, Judd-327, Pollock-397, High R.6
The obverse depicts a Union shield pierced by two arrows, a simple wreath rests above. The remainder of the design consists of token-like legends; EXCHANGED FOR U.S. NOTES on the obverse, POSTAL CURRENCY ACT JULY 1862 and 10 CENTS 1863 on the reverse. Struck in aluminum with a plain edge. An early attempt to replace the despised fractional currency pieces in circulation; the two cent piece, three cent nickel, and shield nickel were eventually introduced for this purpose.
Brilliant and well centered, but limited in grade by both squiggly wire marks and spotty grease stains that were both struck into the obverse at the time of manufacture. Apparently, little care was taken when this pattern piece was produced.
These patterns have been extensively studied and a book has been published about them by David Cassel. As he points out regarding the Judd-327 and 328, there are oddball varieties of metal that were used for alloying that have never been listed, such as iron, silicon, lead, and possibly cobalt and bismuth.