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Rare 1849 Copper Eagle Pattern by Paris Mint
1849 Ten Dollar Pattern by Bouvet, Judd-Appendix C1849-1,
Pollock-5075-1, R.8, MS61 Brown NGC. Copper, thick planchet,
plain edge. This extremely rare copper pattern was produced at the
Paris Mint by engraver Louis Charles Bouvet (1802-1865). Only two
copper pieces are known--both from the King Farouk
Collection--although they differ slightly in thickness and edge
markings. A third, unconfirmed copper example is said to be in the
holdings of the British Museum (per Stack's 9/1998 sale). An
example in gold or gold-plated is also known (per American
Numismatic Rarities' 6/2006 sale).
Engraver Charles Bouvet, Judd-C1849-1
MS61 Brown, Two Known in Copper
On the obverse the head of Liberty faces left, her hair somewhat pressed down on her head and resembling a skullcap. She wears a coronet inscribed LIBERTY. Her hair is bound into a double bun with a ribbon; a single rear lock cascades down onto the neck. Thirteen curious, eight-pointed stars ring the periphery. BOUVET F parallels the bust truncation.
On the reverse, a scrawny, spread-winged eagle occupies the center, shield on the breast, clutching the standard olive branches and arrows. A small laurel wreath appears above the eagle's head. This piece is struck on a thicker planchet than the other Farouk example, and the edge of this piece is plain, while the other piece has CUIVRE (French for copper) and a pointing hand, the Paris Mint edge mark that was used from 1845-1860.
A more extensive background of the Bouvet tens is given in last year's ANA catalog. The still-definitive reference on these coins was written by a very young Doug Winter and published in The Numismatist of May 1982, in an article titled "What Might Have Been: The Story of the Bouvet Eagle of 1849." The article notes that the eagle design that Bouvet produced, at Peale's request, was a failure:
"One thing that Peale failed to realize was that he had pressured Bouvet into executing his designs far too quickly. Although Bouvet was a legitimately fine engraver, his designs for the pattern eagle are sloppy. They show all the marks of an artist rushed by a bureaucrat. The eagle looks conspicuously malnourished while the portrait of Liberty is far too sedate. This coin was certainly not going to be the impetus behind Longacre's removal from office. ... Bouvet died in 1865, unknown to the American public and underrated by his fellow Frenchmen. Had he not been so rushed for time, he might have been an engraver for the U.S. Mint. As it is, his fame is now relegated to an afterthought in the appendix of the Judd pattern book, a classic example of what might have been."
The present piece is the Pollock plate coin and the Judd plate coin through the seventh edition. It is easily recognized due to the small obverse rim bump at 3 o'clock, along with some stray contact marks on Liberty's face and in the left obverse field. But those are mere quibbles compared to the marvelous historical appeal and impeccable provenance that attaches to this coin, a lineage that includes several of the most illustrious pattern collectors of all time.
Ex: Guttag Brothers (10/1927); Colonel E.H.R. Green; Palace Collections of Egypt (King Farouk Collection, Sotheby's, 3/1954), lot 1735a; Farish Baldenhofer Collection (Stack's, 11/1955), lot 1068; Dr. Conway A. Bolt Collection (Stack's, 4/1966), lot 1726; American Numismatic Rarities (6/2006), lot 1001, which realized $26,450; ANA Auction (Heritage, 8/2010), lot 3743. (NGC ID# B3DA, PCGS# 62401)
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