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Description

1870 Twenty Dollar Pattern, Gilt Copper
Judd-1038, PR64, High R.7
Ex: Bass

1870 $20 Twenty Dollar, Judd-1038, Pollock-1173, High R.7, PR64 Gilt NGC.
Design.
These are trial pieces struck from the regular-issue Liberty Head double eagle dies of the year 1870. Struck in copper with a reeded edge.

Commentary.
Although at High R.7 the copper pieces (including gilt) are extremely rare, even-rarer examples are known in aluminum and nickel, both ranked R.8. Saul Teichman notes that while these are listed as die trials in the standard references, they may have been deliberately struck in sets for sale to collectors.

One must admit that nickel, with its extreme hardness, is an extremely unusual metal to choose for double eagle "die trials." Nonetheless, it also appears that profit was not uppermost in the Mint's motivation either, given that so few sets appear to have been produced. Another equally likely scenario is that the pieces could have been surreptitiously struck for conveyance to William Idler of Philadelphia, the Mint's pet coin dealer from 1859 into the 1880s.

Physical Description.
Both sides are thoroughly and completely gilt. The highly reflective surfaces show mild cameo contrast with a sharp strike. NGC has certified two PR64 gilt pieces (including the present piece) and one PR65 Red and Brown, while PCGS has certified none of the issue in any grade (10/08).

Census.
Saul Teichman on USPatterns.com says "fewer than a dozen known" but we believe the number may be far less, perhaps as few as four to six pieces. One example is in the Byron Reed Collection, now in the Durham Western Heritage Museum in Omaha. Plate-matching reveals that this is definitely the Harry W. Bass, Jr. coin; this appears to be the first offering of this pattern issue since that 1999 auction.
Ex: Brinton T. Schorer; Harry W. Bass, Jr. via private treaty (5/1973); Bass Part I (Bowers and Merena, 5/1999), lot 1408, Proof-63, which brought $9,660.
From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two. (NGC ID# 2A2D, PCGS# 61287)

View all of [The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two ]

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Auction Info

Auction Dates
January, 2009
7th-11th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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