1879 Schoolgirl Dollar in Copper
1879 $1 Schoolgirl Dollar, Judd-1609, Pollock-1805, Low R.7,
PR63 Brown NGC.
Judd-1609, PR63 Brown, Low R.7
Design. The "Schoolgirl" dollar features George T. Morgan's design of Liberty facing left, with E PLURIBUS at the left rim, seven stars above, UNUM at the right rim, four more stars, the date 1879, and finally two more stars before we come back around from whence we began. Liberty's hair is combed back and tied with a ribbon behind her head. A hairband is inscribed LIBERTY, and a string of pearls encircles her throat, as her flowing locks cascade down her shoulder. The reverse features a defiant eagle, seemingly about to take flight, facing left on a rectangular perch with IN GOD WE TRUST. An olive sprig is in the left field, with three arrows in the right field. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and ONE DOLLAR are at the rims, separated by periods. Struck in copper with a reeded edge.
Commentary. This represents a second opportunity to capture one of the classic of American coinage design, the Schoolgirl dollar, this time in copper. The copper examples are apparently a bit rarer than the silver pieces, although not significantly so. In the mass of High R.6 and Low R.7 patterns in which this sale abounds, potential bidders would do well to remember that all pattern coins are among the rarest of all U.S. coin types, and that even the so-called "common" patterns are many, many times more rare than most regular issues in the U.S. series.
For the copper Schoolgirl pattern, the USPatterns.com website shows a census of some 12 pieces, with a couple of possible duplicates taking the number down to 10. The combined total of certified examples at NGC and PCGS also is 10 coins (9/08).
George T. Morgan (1845-1925) had only been employed at the U.S. Mint for some three years when he designed this wonderful pattern dollar, one of the most admired and revered in U.S. numismatics. Born in London, he had earlier been a pupil of Royal Mint engraver Leonard Charles Wyon. He was hired in 1876 after Mint Director Henry Linderman made inquiries to the British institution, feeling that perhaps Chief Engraver William Barber (1807-1879) and his son Charles (1840-1917), the assistant engraver, were "overworked and perhaps underqualified" (Ted Schwarz, "The Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars," The Numismatist, November 1975). William Barber had been hired at the Mint in 1865 and had become chief engraver in 1869, on the death of James B. Longacre, at which time he was already 62 years old. His son Charles was still relatively inexperienced.
Linderman wrote in 1875 to the Royal Mint director, "Could you find us a first-class die-sinker who would be willing to take the position of Assistant Engraver at the Mint at Philadelphia? We would like a man who could produce a finished hub, and if he understood modeling and also bronzing it would make him more valuable to us."
On the recommendation of his British employers, Morgan was hired for the Philadelphia position, with the understanding that the elder Barber, William, would soon retire. (Father and son William and Charles Barber shared an office in the Mint, so William's retirement would make room for Morgan to share the space with Charles.) Although William Barber continued to serve as chief engraver until his death, that occurred on Aug. 31, 1879. Apparently Charles Barber was not well-liked by his superiors; it was December before he was named chief engraver, with some consideration given to naming Morgan to the post. Although Morgan's talents were superior to Charles Barber's (and certainly to William Barber's), he served as assistant engraver from 1876, first under William Barber and then until Charles Barber's own death in 1917, a period of 41 years. George T. Morgan was named chief engraver in 1921, after nearly 45 years of Mint service.
Physical Description. Lustrous brown surfaces show strong iridescent highlights in shades of blue and purple. A few small lintmarks seen in the digits of the date serve as pedigree markers, but carbon and visible contact on this possibly undergraded piece are essentially absent. Under a loupe some faint evidence of die clashing is visible on each side, more so on the obverse than the reverse.
From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two. (NGC ID# 2AGZ, PCGS# 61987)
View all of [The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two ]
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