1916 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-1992, PR58
1916 50C Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-1992, formerly
Judd-1797, Pollock-2053, Low R.7, PR58 NGC.
The 'LiberTy' Half Dollar Pattern, Low R.7
Design. The obverse is similar to the regular issue, but LIBERTY, with a tall T extending over the RY, is moved to the right obverse field, in back of the walking figure of Liberty and above IN GOD WE TRUST. The digits in the date are tall, tightly spaced, and thick. The reverse design is broadly similar to the regular issue, but there are many differences. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is spread out in a wider arc along the periphery, with periods before and after. The extra room is provided by the moving of HALF DOLLAR to a second inner arc above the eagle and below STATES OF A, and E PLURIBUS UNUM, in small letters, is moved to the bottom rim. There is no AW monogram by the tip of the eagle's tail. Struck in silver with a reeded edge.
Commentary. The www.uspatterns.com website notes that the "Judd-1797A number used in earlier editions of Judd was a misdescription of this." Just to be clear, this coin combines the obverse design as described under Pollock-2054 with the reverse design as described under Pollock-2055. The current and equivalent Judd listing is Judd-1992, where it is noted that these coins are "believed to have been struck between July 27 and August 18, 1916."
This popular pattern is called the "LiberTy" type for obvious reasons. But the Bowers and Merena cataloger, in describing the Pryor and Evans specimens (Nos. 3 and 5 below), noted a more abstruse appellation:
"The WurliTzer connection (?): The T in LiberTy is overly large, possibly adopted from the WurliTzer logotype?
"The music house of WurliTzer was founded in 1856 in Cincinnati by Rudolph Wurlitzer, who came from Germany in 1853. The WurliTzer connection with the above 1916 pattern is not far fetched. Farny Wurlitzer (named from Henry Farny, the famous American artist who was his maternal grandfather), who was in charge of the firm's plant in North Tonawanda, NY, from 1909 until the 1960s, told Q. David Bowers that an advertising copy writer came up with the idea of a large T in WurliTzer as a distinctive way of spelling the name--this was well before the 1916 pattern half dollars in question--and that over the years when Mr. Wurlitzer saw others copy the large letter T he would write them a little note of recognition ... . The use of erratic letter sizes recurs various times in American numismatics, including 'oF' in the reverse lettering of both the 1948 Franklin half dollar and the 1959 Memorial reverse of the Lincoln cent."
Physical Description. Shades of amber, gold, and lilac glow on the surfaces of this lightly circulated proof. A small dark toning spot immediately beneath Liberty's flag, just above and right of the intersection with a ray of the sun, serves as a pedigree identifier. Just a touch of rub on the highest points attests to a brief time in circulation before this rare pattern was fortunately recognized for what it was--or, alternatively, the specimen could have been carried as a pocket piece for a short while.
Noted pattern collector Rogers M. Fred, Jr. provided interesting insights into the manner by which various 1916 patterns entered circulation, in a letter originally quoted by Bowers in his "Numismatic Depth Study" in Coin World, Oct. 9, 1974:
"Living in Leesburg [Virginia] at the present time are Mr. and Mrs. Charles Robb, who are good friends of mine. Their son, Chuck, married Lynda Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon Johnson. Frances Robb (Mrs. Charles Robb, Sr.) is the daughter of Mr. [Robert Wickliffe] Woolley, who was director of the Mint in 1916 ... Mr. Woolley is dead now, but I knew him myself when we both lived in Washington in the 1930s and 1940s.
"I have talked to Frances Robb many times about her father and coins, and she told me that in the 1920s her father's house was robbed. Among the things taken was a box containing coins. The thieves were not really interested in the coins as such, but since the robbery was of a general nature they took anything that had value and could be disposed of easily.
"Mrs. Robb has said that her father had patterns of 1916 coinage in that box ... . The 1916 patterns are very similar in design to the regular issue and it is reasonable to assume that the thieves thought that the coins were just regular issues and simply spent them. This would explain how the coins got out of the Mint ... ."
While the present piece is just a whisper away from Mint State, it is worth noting that some pattern examples of 1916 Walking Liberty halves and 1916 Mercury dimes are known in the range of Very Good to Fine.
Census. Only six or seven pieces are likely in private hands, as the first two Smithsonian pieces below are off the market. The following census is expanded from USPatterns.com.
1. Smithsonian Institution, 1985.0551.0756.
2. Smithsonian Institution, 1985.0551.0757.
3. King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 2026 (two pieces?); William Mitkoff (4/1974); James Bennett Pryor Collection (Bowers and Merena, 1/1996), PR63 PCGS, lot 329; Southern Collection; Samuel Berngard and S.S. New York Collections (Stack's, 7/08), lot 4250, PR64 NGC.
4. Robert Marks Collection, Part II (American Auction Association [Bowers and Ruddy], 11/72), lot 1080; Superior (10/1990), lot 1888; Superior (7/1993), lot 468, $35,200. PR63 PCGS.
5. Morris Evans Collection (Rarities Sale, Bowers and Merena, 8/1998), lot 2100, $40,250; later, Kagin's, PR64 NGC; Kennywood Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 1/2005), lot 1180; Long Beach Signature Auction (Heritage, 6/2005), lot 7457; Baltimore ANA Auction (Heritage, 8/2008), lot 2165. PR65 NGC.
6. Superior (8/1991). VG8 NGC.
7. Anaconda Rare Coins (8/2003); FUN Signature Auction (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 1631, unsold. PR53 NGC.
8. Provenance unknown. The present specimen.
From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two. (NGC ID# 2AMY, PCGS# 62290)
View all of [The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two ]
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