George T. Morgan’s 1878 $10 pattern in gold, Judd-1581, is one of the rarest issues in the U.S. pattern series. Only two examples of Judd-1581 were struck in 1878 and one of those coins has been sequestered in the collection of the Connecticut State Library for more than a century. Heritage Auctions is privileged to present the only example of Judd-1581 in private hands in a landmark offering as part of the August 18-22 ANA World’s Fair of Money Signature Auction.
The central design elements are similar to those on the Morgan dollar, which was introduced in regular coinage the same year. The obverse features Morgan’s famous head of Liberty, modeled after Anna Williams, but with a different Phrygian cap and no cereal wreath. E PLURIBUS is inscribed around the border to the left, with UNUM to the right, and the date below. The reverse exhibits an eagle with upraised wings, holding an olive branch in the right talon and three arrows in the left. IN GOD WE TRUST is inscribed in Gothic letters between the wings. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is around, with TEN DOL. below. This same design (with a different date) was used on Judd-1545, a ten-dollar pattern in copper, in 1877. The design was also struck in copper in 1878 (Judd-1582).
The United States Mint struck seven different patterns in gold in 1877. Three of those patterns (Judd-1566, Judd-1570, and Judd-1572) were struck on thin, large-diameter planchets, to discourage counterfeiting. The other four patterns (Judd-1575, Judd-1577, Judd-1579, and Judd-1581) were struck on regular planchets and featured competing designs for the eagle and half eagle denominations by William Barber and George Morgan. Barber used the same basic motifs for his design for the half eagle and eagle, Judd-1575 and Judd-1579, respectively. Similarly, Judd-1577 and Judd-1581 displayed the concept favored by Morgan for both denominations. Roger W. Burdette discovered a January 12, 1878-dated entry in the Mint archives indicating only two sets of Morgan’s patterns were produced in gold, and apparently, only two sets of Barber’s design were struck in gold, as well. These coins were organized into four-coin sets, with each set containing an example of Barber’s and Morgan’s designs for both denominations.
Both sets were kept intact through several offerings before being split up.
The set containing the present coin was known to the numismatic community before 1884, and it remained intact for much longer, becoming a prize for famous collectors like Virgil Brand, Dr. J. Hewitt Judd, and Dr. John E. Wilkison. The coins were finally split up by A-Mark in the 1976-1978 time frame, after nearly 100 years together. Bob R. Simpson acquired this coin in 2008 when he purchased the famous Southern Collection of pattern coins intact for a reported $36 million. This magnificent PCGS-graded PR66 Deep Cameo specimen, the only example in private hands, has been off the market ever since.
This delightful Premium Gem exhibits sharply detailed design elements in most areas, with just the slightest touch of softness on Liberty’s hair around the ear and the feathers on the eagle’s breast. The impeccably preserved orange-gold surfaces show highlights of green and lilac in selected areas. The richly frosted devices contrast profoundly with the deeply mirrored fields to create a dramatic cameo effect. Overall eye appeal is terrific.
This Morgan pattern coin has not been publicly offered in more than 30 years and this lot represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for advanced pattern collectors to obtain the only example of this remarkable gold pattern in private hands. We expect intense competition from series specialists when this lot is called.
Heritage Auctions Surpasses 1.5 Million Online Bidder Members
Heritage Auctions, the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer, has eclipsed 1.5 million online bidder-members who take advantage of the online platform (HA.com) to buy and sell collectibles from more than 40 categories.
“Heritage Auctions remains on the cutting edge of auction technology, and our free database of more than 5.5 million lots has reached a global community of collectors,” Heritage Auctions CEO Steve Ivy said. “Our 1.5 million bidder members have identified and verified HA.com as the premier destination for buyers and sellers of collectibles, unique artworks, and luxury items.”
The most heavily visited website for fine arts and collectibles, HA.com offers access to Heritage’s Make Offer to Owner program, which enables members to bid on lots that already have been sold to other collectors. The Make Offer to Owner program is just one of several tools offered to members of HA.com – a list that also includes the ability for bidders to track their own collections, register their ownership of items sold at past auctions, and create personal Want Lists.
“We have added a quarter of a million online bidder members around the world over the last two years, a significant portion of whom live in the most affluent areas of Europe, Asia, and Latin America,” Ivy said. “The growing number of bidders is a reflection of Heritage’s growth within the auction world as the premier landing spot for collectors.”