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Auction Name: 2020 November 19 - 22 US Coins Signature Auction

Lot Number: 3148

Shortcut to Lot: HA.com/1321-3148

1866 5C Five Cents, Judd-531, Pollock-586, R.8, PR65+ PCGS. Ex: Simpson. The regular Shield nickel obverse die is mated to a reverse with a large 5 and CENTS in a curved line, inside a wreath comprising many laurel leaves. IN GOD WE TRUST is at the top rim of both obverse and reverse. Struck in nickel with a plain edge.

The dies for this pattern and several others, 11 dies used to produce 43 pattern "mules" in all, are the subject of some controversy: Were they used inside or outside the Mint for striking? Did these patterns or "mules" get produced and then slip out the Mint back door, as so many other mid-19th century concoctions did under a succession of Mint directors? Or were these dies to produce "fantasy coins" or "private strikings" by (perhaps) Joseph Mickley and/or Sylvester Crosby (in whose collection many of the coins ended up)? Many of the suspect patterns in question are various Washington and Shield patterns and mules thereof, but the present pattern also constitutes one of the items. The relevant Judd numbers include 516 through 531 inclusive and a few others.

Numismatic author and medals/tokens expert George Fuld published a 1998 article in The Numismatist titled "A Group of Restruck Patterns" in which he argues that the coins or "mules" were indeed ex-Mint creations. The article, including much more information and photos, is reprinted on USPatterns.com. However, Saul Teichman does disagree with Fuld's conclusions regarding the dies of the present pattern, rightly pointing out that the "fabric" of the coin is different from most of the other creations (which, in our opinion as well, are far less credible as Mint products). This coin shows clear evidence of a proof strike -- which most of the others do not -- and although the die pairing is illogical, there is no sketchy off-size or off-metal planchet.

From the perspective of 150+ years after the creation of this coin, the issue is largely much ado about nothing and, if anything, only adds to the cachet of this extremely rare and attractively made issue. This PR65+ piece is the only example certified at PCGS, and NGC reports one PR65 example which we believe to be a different coin (9/20).
Collecting Patterns – A Brief History and Commentary

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