Unique Martha Washington Pattern Half Dollar Struck on a Quarter Planchet in Error(1965) P50C Martha Washington Half Dollar, Pollock-2083, R.8--Struck on a 25C Planchet--MS66 NGC. 5.7 grams. In order to test various metallic compositions for their suitability as a replacement for the 90% silver, 10% copper composition then in use for the Roosevelt Dime, Washington Quarter, and Kennedy Half Dollar, the United States Mint prepared a new test design early in 1965. The work of Edward R. Grove, the obverse depicts a bust of Martha Washington facing right, her name spelled out in the lower right field. The word VIRGINIA is at the upper border and the date 1759 is below. The reverse was designed by Philip Fowler and Mount Vernon is the central element. The word MOUNT VERNON is below and the inscription HOME OF THE WASHINGTON FAMILY is around the periphery.
The Mint prepared Dime, Quarter, and Half Dollar dies with this Martha Washington design and used them to deliver experimental pieces on planchets of several different compositions, as listed in Pollock:
1. 75% copper, 25% nickel.
2. Cupronickel-copper (multilayer composite).
3. 50% silver, 50% copper.
4. Coin silver-copper (multilayer composite).
5. Columbium (types I and II).
7. Monel (a nickel based alloy).
8. Nickel-5% Silicon with a magnetic core.
9. Stainless steel (three compositions).
We do not know exactly how many specimens were prepared in each alloy, but we do know that, up until now, only three coins were believed extant. These coins, a Dime, Quarter, and Half Dollar, were among those cupronickel-copper composite examples viewed at official government hearings. To prevent the coins from being lost, Eva Adams, Director of the Mint from October 1961 to August 1969, reported that the pieces were embedded in blocks of Lucite. One of these blocks was presented to the Smithsonian Institution, in which all three of the aforementioned examples are still housed.
The present coin was previously unknown to the collecting community, and, to the best of our knowledge, it is the only Martha Washington Half Dollar pattern available to collectors. The fact that this piece is an error further adds to its desirability. We do not know exactly how and under what circumstances this coin was struck. We are, however, certain of the planchet composition. A metallurgical analysis done by S & N Labs in Santa Ana, California reports a composition of 75% copper and 25% nickel (negligible amounts of manganese and iron are also listed). A copy of the analysis, which is dated December 26, 2002, is included with this lot. This planchet, which NGC weighed at 5.7 grams (the 2003 Red Book lists a weight of 5.67 grams for the copper-nickel clad Quarter planchets of 1965-date), was accidentally inserted between the Half Dollar dies. As a result, the peripheral devices are off the planchet in all areas save for those at the left borders. Also of note are bold clashmarks (as struck)--a curious feature for a pattern coin. It is likely that this error was produced late in the press run after the dies had come together in the absence of an intervening planchet. The surfaces are generally untoned, although one can see some delicate golden iridescence at a few angles. A few ticks on the obverse portrait are noted solely for accuracy, and pedigree concerns compel us to mention a tiny as struck flaw in the center of Washington's cheek. Clearly, this is a coin whose history and technical attributes would afford hours of study. (NGC ID# 2APG, PCGS# 62400)
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