1877 25C Sailor Head Quarter Dollar, Judd-1500, Pollock-1653, R.7, PR65 Red NGC....
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Barber's Famous 'Sailor Head'
Underrated Judd-1500, Finest Known
Design. The obverse features William Barber's "Sailor Head" of Liberty facing left, wearing a coronet inscribed LIBERTY with a pearl border and hair tied back with a ribbon. IN GOD WE TRUST above, date 1877 below, stars arranged 7x6 on the sides. The reverse dies were the adopted design for regular-issue quarters in 1877. Struck in copper, with a reeded edge.
Commentary. William Barber's celebrated "Sailor Head" first appeared on pattern twenty cent pieces in 1875 and was so well-thought-of that it was featured on several other patterns, including eagles and half eagles in 1875, dollars in 1876, and dimes, quarters, and half dollars in 1877. Walter Breen observed that the profile of Liberty on Judd-1500 closely resembles the portrait on Queen Victoria's "Young Head" coinage.
Judd-1500 was an elusive issue in the 19th century, as evidenced by the following citation in lot 325 of the Woodside Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 4/1892):
"1877 Quarter Dol.: profile of Liberty l. (similar to that on lot 315). R same as on regular issue: copper, silvered: proof; exceedingly rare."
Mint Director Henry Linderman owned an example of Judd-1500 in copper, which was included in an 11-piece cased set of 1877 patterns that was offered in his collection in 1887, after his death in 1879. The silver-plated Woodside coin is the only other 19th century appearance of this rare pattern that we could locate, but there may be others that we overlooked. A single specimen of Judd-1499, the same design but struck in silver, was reported in the collection of William Woodin, passing to Waldo Newcomer early in the 20th century. The fact that Woodin also had an example of Judd-1500, which he exhibited at the 1914 ANS Exhibition, leads us to speculate that Judd-1500 might have been well-represented in the hoard of patterns he received for returning the 1877 half union patterns in gold to the Mint Cabinet in 1910. This would account for the spate of auction appearances that occurred later in the century, but seems to have dried up in recent years.
In recent times, Judd-1500 has become as elusive as it was in the 19th century, with only three auction appearances we can trace in the last 20 years, all representing the same coin. USPatterns.com estimates the surviving population of Judd-1500 at eight pieces, and our roster below shows seven distinct examples, with a few other citations that may represent the same coins. At least two of the coins in the roster have been silver plated at one time, like the coin in the Woodside sale, mentioned above. Another coin, the Farouk example, has been mishandled. One of the remaining pieces is held by the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Research Foundation. The only coin certified by PCGS is the Bergin specimen, number 4 in the roster below, which has been cataloged, and even certified, as a silver or silver plated example on different occasions in its history. The present Eric P. Newman piece is the only example certified by NGC, and grades at least two points finer than its closest competitor.
Physical Description. The original orange-red surfaces of this delightful Gem show a few areas of light brown patina and are brightly reflective throughout. The design elements are well-detailed, with just a touch of softness on the letters of LIBERTY. A minor planchet lamination, as struck, can be seen on the lower left obverse. A similar lamination is seen in a slightly different location on coin number 4 in the roster below. This very rare pattern possesses incredible eye appeal to complement its finest known technical grade, and it may be decades before a comparable example becomes available.
Roster and Provenance for Judd-1500.
1. PR65 Red NGC. Eric P. Newman; the present coin.
2. PR63. R.C. Matthews Sale (Steve Ivy, 3/1980), lot 1184.
3. PR63. FUN Sale (RARCOA, 1/1973), lot 668; William Sieck Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 7/1981), lot 159.
4. PR63 Brown. Thomas Bergin Collection (Stack's, 6/1984), lot 1212, cataloged as copper, but Pollock says silver plated; Chalkley and Ryer Collections (Superior, 1/1990), lot 2753, certified as silver Judd-1499 by PCGS; Father Flanagan Boy's Home Sale (Superior, 5/1990), lot 3314, cataloged as silver Judd-1499; Rogers Fred Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1995), lot 2256, cataloged as silver plated Judd-1500; Samuel Berngard Collection (Stack's, 7/2008), lot 4221, certified as copper Judd-1500 by PCGS; Summer FUN Signature (Heritage, 7/2010), lot 4491, certified PR63 Brown Judd-1500 by PCGS.
5. Proof. Lee F. Hewitt; purchased by Harry Bass on April 17, 1972; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Research Foundation.
6. PR60, cleaned, lacquered. King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 1979; Robert Branigan Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 8/1978), lot 1809; possibly Chicago Sale (David Akers-RARCOA, 8/1991), catalog not available for comparison, but grade matches.
7. Proof, reportedly silver plated. Major Lenox Lohr FPL (Empire Coin Company, 1961); Byron Johnson; Byron Johnson Collection (Robert L. Hughes, 1/1979).
8. Proof, silver plated. Barney Bluestone (10/1942).
A. Linderman Collection (Lyman Low, 6/1887), part of an 11-piece cased set in lot 56, not sold, as the sale was suppressed by the government and several lots confiscated before the date of the sale; reoffered in The Linderman Collection (Scott Stamp & Coin; 2/1888), lot 56.
B. Woodside Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 4/1892), lot 325, cataloged as silver plated, possibly the same as number 4 or number 7 above.
C. A specimen exhibited at the 1914 ANS Exhibition by William Woodin.
D. Proof. Fred E. Olsen Sale (B. Max Mehl, 11/1944), lot 271-A.
E. PR60, possibly cleaned or bronzed. August Sale (Mid-American Rare Coin Auctions, 8/1987), lot 916, not plated in the catalog.
From The Eric P. Newman Collection. (PCGS# 81835)
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