Menu
Welcome Sign-In | Join Now
Sold for Sign-in or Join (free & quick) includes Buyer's Premium (BP) 

Description

1877 Half Union, Copper Gilt Striking
Judd-1549, PR64+ Cameo
Small Head Variant

1877 $50 Fifty Dollar, Judd-1549 Gilt, Pollock-1722, Low R.7, PR64+ Cameo NGC. CAC. Ex: Simpson. The second of William Barber's designs for the fifty dollar gold piece, or half union. This is the Small Head version; however, the smallness of the head is only apparent when viewed next to the Large Head variant. The head of Liberty is a familiar one, and seen on other patterns through 1880. Thirteen stars surround Liberty (facing left) and the date 1877 is below. Both the date and stars are from double eagle punches and are noticeably smaller than one would expect from a coin of such size (50 mm). The reverse is essentially a Type Three twenty dollar in larger format with FIFTY substituted for TWENTY. However, the devices appear to have been punched into the working die individually. This is most apparent on the motto. IN GOD WE does not describe a perfect arc, and the D is double-punched and tilted to the right. Struck in copper and gilt with a reeded edge.
The design and execution of this denomination is obscure. The idea was to create a new denomination base. There were cents and half cents, dimes and half dimes, dollars and half and quarter dollars, eagles and the various fractions and multiples of that denomination, and two years after this pattern was struck another denomination was proposed, the stella, or four dollar gold piece. The union was proposed as a $100 gold piece. The union never made it past the sketch phase; however, silver rounds have been recently struck with Barber's design and are quite impressive. The half union was struck in copper, copper-gilt, and gold. There are only two gold pieces, one each of the Large Head and Small Head variety. Both of the gold pieces are now in the Smithsonian, but the coins took a circuitous route to get there, via William Haseltine, Stephen Nagy, and William Woodin. That is an oft-told story that need not be repeated here.
The union denomination was unprecedented in U.S. numismatic history. The fifty dollar gold piece, or half union, had a relatively recent precedent in the 1851-52 "ingots" valued at fifty dollars from Gold Rush California. While there was a need for such a large-denomination gold coin in early California, there was no apparent need for such a federally authorized coin in 1877. The impetus seems to have come from Mint Director Henry Linderman, a coin collector himself and creator of many exotic patterns and rarities. Linderman's excesses finally came to the attention of Congress and he was slated to go before a Congressional committee in late 1878, but was too ill to attend. He died in January 1879, leaving many unanswered questions about his two terms as Mint Director.
Fewer than a dozen pieces of the Small Head half union are known, including examples in the Smithsonian and Connecticut State Library. Approximately half of the known pieces have been gilt, but it is not certain if the gilding was applied in the Mint or afterward. The gilding on this piece effectively simulates a gold striking. The layer of gold is almost complete over each side, just the slightest spotted chipping can be seen on the reverse. The fields show significant brightness from the proof finish on the underlying copper; so much so that the devices are noticeably contrasted against the mirroring in the fields. The orange-gold color is uniform throughout, and apart from the tiny chips in the gold finish on the reverse, there are no noticeable contact marks. Light hairlines are all that prevent an even higher grade. This is a rare opportunity to acquire this seldom-seen pattern denomination. (PCGS# 61894)

Service and Handling Description: Coins & Currency (view shipping information)

Sales Tax information  | NGC Coin Grading Guarantee  |  Terms and Conditions

Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

Glossary of Terms

Auction Info

Auction Dates
January, 2013
9th-14th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
Members Tracking: N/A
Page Views: 1,176

Buyer's Premium per Lot:
17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

Heritage membership

940,605
bidder-members
$885,447,626
sold in the last year

Join Now - It's Free

VIEW BENEFITS
  1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
  2. Bid online
  3. Free Collector newsletter
  4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
  5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    winnings 

Consignments wanted

Consign to the 2015 December 8 - 9 World Coins Signature Auction - Dallas.

Learn about consigning with us

Your overall service is very good. The quality of the catalogs for major sales are superior and very accurately described.
M.F. ,
Elmwood Park, IL
View More Testimonials

HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. To compare for yourself, visit: compete.com

Video tutorial

Getting the most out of search

Recent auctions

2015 July 9 - 12 Summer FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando Summer FUN
2015 July 9 - 12 Summer FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando Summer FUN
REALIZED $8,332,129
2015 April 9 - 14 CICF World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature Auction - Chicago
2015 April 9 - 14 CICF World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature Auction - Chicago
REALIZED $6,503,481
2015 April 22 - 28 CSNS Currency Signature Auction - Chicago
2015 April 22 - 28 CSNS Currency Signature Auction - Chicago
REALIZED $10,592,191

© 2015 Heritage Auctions | All Rights Reserved