Early US Pattern Coin Highlight
One of them is an 1839 half dollar pattern with a design Judd calls “Coronet Head facing right”, also sometimes known as the “Backward Liberty”. It is strongly reminiscent of the 10-dollar Coronet Head gold coins of 1838 and 1839 in the dangling curls and sharply pointed rear bust, but it nonetheless looks decidedly odd. Because the profile of Liberty faces right rather than left, the LIBERTY on the coronet begins with the L behind the ear, and the last letter Y is above the forehead.
Judd comments that “neither this die nor any like it were ever used for coinage.”
The obverse of this pattern coin depicts a figure of Liberty facing right on the obverse, mouth open, hair tied in a bun, one curl draping down the neck behind the ear, sporting a coronet reading LIBERTY, rounded forward bust and pointed rear bust, 13 stars around, date 1839 below. The reverse offers the regular Large Letters die seen on some regular-issue 1839-dated half dollars. This coin is struck in silver with a reeded edge. PCGS has assigned it a grade of Proof-65.
This example shows die rust most perceptible on the profile of Liberty, although less so than on many of these 1860s- or 1870s-era restrikes. Lovely pale-blue and plum-rose patina prevails on well-mirrored surfaces, an extremely attractive coin. Perhaps four or five exist (including the Smithsonian example), with this piece certainly among the finest.
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