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Double Struck 1838 Gobrecht Half Dollar
1838 P50C Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-81 Restrike,
Pollock-88, Low R.7, PR64 Brown PCGS. The obverse is similar to
the regular issue Seated Liberty design, with minor differences in
the shape of the rock, shield, and arrangement of Liberty's
drapery. The reverse is the "defiant eagle" design, with the eagle
flying to the left clutching arrows and an olive wreath, the legend
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above, and the denomination HALF DOLLAR
below. Struck in copper with a reeded edge.
Judd-81 Restrike, PR64 Brown
This curiosity is called a restrike, but no originals are known using this reverse die. According to USPatterns.com: "This die was actually finished many years later either in the late 1860s or early 1870s." An estimated half dozen pieces are believed known of the copper and silver strikings. The first auction appearance we are aware of was in Haseltine's February, 1877 sale. This is the same auction that had the first appearance of the Judd-59 (1836 Name Below Base dollar in copper). At that early date the rarity of this pattern was recognized. Haseltine described the Judd-81 (lot 559) as "extremely rare."
This particular pattern has two unusual features. The first, and most easily seen, is the reverse die rotation (approximately 90 degrees). Closer examination reveals the second and more unusual double striking on each side. A second striking occurred after the coin rotated approximately 10 degrees after the first strike. The reeded edge somewhat complicates the process required for this to happen. After the first strike, the lower die pushes the coin from the collar, which is fixed, and lowers back into position. Then the ejected coin was placed back into the die with a slight rotation. However, now the coiner must align the "slots" of the collar with the reeding on the struck coin as the coin is lowered into the collar; thus, there is no noticeable double striking of the reeding, as it is aligned with the flutes inside the collar. However, the struck coin was rotated and the second striking shows the understrike.
The devices on the first strike are all shifted to the left (relative to the date). The first 1 is complete and clearly left of the 1 from the second strike. The first is 8 mostly free of 1. The 3 from the first strike overlaps the first 8, is sketchily outlined, and most easily identifiable by the knob on the lower left portion of the 8. The final 8 is apparent and overlaps the 3 on the second strike. Almost all the devices from both strikings are apparent on each side. Over the years we have seen this shifted double striking on other patterns, but have not made a note of which ones. Nevertheless, this is a rare occurrence and this piece is undoubtedly the only Judd-81 with this feature.
The surfaces have a lovely green and brown iridescence with faint traces of underlying red. The striking details on the figure of Liberty are fully defined, but the eagle shows the usual softness on the feathers. Numerous tiny lint marks are struck into the obverse fields, but curiously none are on the reverse. It is a safe assumption that die opposition caused the second striking of this piece; meaning, the obverse and reverse central devices were in too high relief relative to each other for both to strike up completely. Apparently the coiner inspected the first striking, noticed it was weak on the reverse, thought a second strike would bring up the details more completely, reinserted the struck piece but it was slightly out of alignment. A rare opportunity to acquire an error pattern, and a coin that is highly instructive about 19th century minting practices. (NGC ID# 2973, PCGS# 11336)
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