Sharp 1879 Metric Dollar, Judd-1617, PR641879 $1 Metric Dollar, Judd-1617, Pollock-1813, R.4, PR64 NGC.
Design. The Liberty Head design of William Barber (possibly executed by son Charles), similar to the 1877 fifty dollar half union patterns (Judd-1546), with head facing left, wearing a large coronet with LIBERTY inscribed thereon, hair flowing down the back of her neck. The Latin motto is above, with stars seven left and six right, with the date below. The reverse offers a wreath of cotton and wheat, with inner circle of dots enclosing 895.8 S. / 4.2--G. / 100--C. / 25 GRAMS. Despite the Judd misidentification as E PLURIBUS UNUM, the actual Latin motto present is DEO EST GLORIA ("God is glory/To God be the glory") in a cartouche, with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and ONE DOLLAR at the rim. Purportedly struck in Hubbell's goloid composition with a reeded edge.
Commentary. On May 22, 1877, Dr. William Wheeler Hubbell patented in the U.S. Patent Office an alloy of metals that he termed "goloid," signifying a composition of one part of gold, 24 parts of silver, and 2.5 parts of copper--or, in integral terms, a 2:48:5 mix of gold:silver:copper. This works out to about 3.64% gold, 87.27% silver, and 9.09% copper. Adding the two precious-metal components together, one gets 90.91% gold and silver, and 9.09% alloy, in other words 10 parts of gold and silver and one part of alloy. According to Judd: "This was a mixture containing 90% gold and silver, each of these metals being of equal proportions from a value standpoint, to which coin 10% copper was added to strengthen the alloy. These pieces became known as goloid dollars or goloid metric dollars ... . Two such coins would contain a total $1 worth of gold and $1 worth of silver."
The ratios and proportions of the Hubbell patent and those purportedly contained in the various pattern coin proposals must not be taken too literally, for at least two reasons. First, one would do well to keep in mind that these are patterns, not adopted coins. It is unlikely that Mint personnel would actually attempt the novel chemistry required to produce such alloys for mere coinage proposals--and indeed, there is little to no solid metallurgical analysis to indicate that such were produced. Second, the terms "goloid" or "goloid metric," regardless of their original intended meanings, are widely used in Judd and other references to denote mixtures of gold and silver alloyed with copper, although the proportions of the precious metals (and therefore their values) vary widely.
Although NGC and PCGS have certified many dozens of Judd-1617 ("goloid") and Judd-1618 ("silver") pieces, USPatterns.com notes that "apparently none of these have ever been subjected to metallurgical analysis." The subtle difference between standard 90% coin silver and goloid composition can be conclusively shown neither by sight, nor sonority, nor specific gravity, but ultimately only by elemental analysis. Andrew W. Pollock III wisely lumps all of the Judd-1617 and Judd-1618 pieces together under his Pollock-1813 number, writing that "no attempt has been made to distinguish between the two different alloys."
Physical Description. This sharply struck near-Gem shows delightful silver-gold coloration with some minimal contact that prevents a higher grade, but the considerable eye appeal and wider availability of this pattern coinage makes the present specimen an ideal acquisition for the collector interesting in obtaining a sample pattern for a type set--or just a single prize from the Lemus Collection! Three-piece sets containing this "metric goloid" dollar, the Judd-1626 (an alternate goloid metric silver dollar design), and the Judd-1635 (1879 Flowing Hair stella) were sold, first to Congressmen for $6.10, then to collectors for $15, so most examples found are in grades of PR50 to PR60. This piece is one of nine graded PR64 at NGC, with seven coins finer at that service (9/08).
Provenance. Ex: Lester Merkin Coins (6/1971), lot 894.
From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two. (NGC ID# 2AH8, PCGS# 61995)
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