1916 50C Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-1994, formerly Judd-1801, Pollock-2059, R.8
The obverse is somewhat similar to the regular issue as adopted, but the 1916 date is small and tightly compacted together. The 1's in the date have tiny serifs on top and bottom, and diagonal flag-shaped tops. The letters in LIBERTY are heavy and slightly further from the rim than on the regular issue, closer to Liberty's foot. Burdette points out that the right heel, foot, and the T of TRUST are farther from the rim than on the circulation dies. The reverse is also similar to the regular issue, but it lacks the AW monogram (for designer Adolph A. Weinman) behind the eagle, to the right of the rock, which was placed on the regular issues.
This pattern, although similar, shows some distinct differences on the obverse that no dedicated collector of Walking Liberty halves would mistake for a regular-issue piece. Breen's Complete Encyclopedia notes that the date is "very small and closely spaced, not extending beyond foot."
Some business strike and proof Walking Liberty half dollars also lack the AW monogram, due either to omission or commission. That is, the initials were either never placed into the dies, or they were subsequently lapped off. This pattern was identified as Judd-1801 before the eighth edition of that reference.
The current (ninth) edition notes that examples of Judd-1994 are "believed to have been struck between September 25 and October 21, 1916." The following comments from Roger Burdette's Renaissance of American Coinage 1916-21 are useful in providing an understanding of the 1916 patterns:
"The year 1916 saw the largest group of experimental (or pattern) coins produced by the U.S. Mint since the late 1870s. Unlike most nineteenth century patterns--samples intended to show what a potential coin design would look like before a design was accepted--the designs for the three subsidiary coins had been approved before any of the experimental coins were made. The 1916 coins were intended to show the accepted designs in their final forms immediately prior to commencement of production. This affected the coinage in three ways: first, with one documented exception, the experimental coins were not intentionally made with special finishing such as sandblast or brilliant proof. Second, they were struck at ordinary production pressures on normal planchets rather than at high pressure on specially prepared blanks. Third, they were 'experimental coins' and were expected to be examined by the mint and the artists for their faults rather than their virtues.
"In most instances, Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Adam Joyce wanted to know if a change in design had solved a coinage problem--hence, a pattern or experimental coin was struck so the results could be compared with previous versions. These mechanical experiments resulted in the creation of many more patterns than one would think necessary. Evidently, each change in design was modeled, reductions and hubs made, and sample coins struck for review by secretary McAdoo, directors Woolley and von Engelken, and superintendent Joyce.
Some patterns were significantly different from the later circulation coins, but many differed only in minor placement of lettering or details of the figures. Limited records were kept of the dies and pattern coins resulting in some patterns entering circulation. The greatest number of known patterns were created for the half dollar; however, mint documents suggest that the dime and quarter were also troublesome and resulted in a significant number of experimental coins. Comments by [Standing Liberty quarter designer] Hermon MacNeil in January 1917, suggest that there may have been a considerable number of quarter patterns made, but none have survived."
"All of the pattern coin examined by the author have fields that are either polished, smooth and nonreflective, or lightly textured. None of the examples appear to be deliberate sandblast or satin proofs and most look like fairly ordinary circulation strikes with impaired luster."
PR64 $115,000.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)