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    Remarkable 1872 Liberty Head Five Dollar
    Struck in Aluminum, Judd-1244, PR65 Cameo

    1872 $5 Five Dollar, Judd-1244, Pollock-1386, High R.7, PR65 Cameo NGC. The regular-issue Liberty Head half eagle gold coin of the year, but here struck in aluminum with a reeded edge. The companion Judd-1243 was also struck in copper. suggests that these pieces, as with so many similar coins, rather than being mere die trials in alternate metals may have been actually struck for sale or trade to collectors.
    The year 1872 in the realm of U.S. patterns is, of course, most famed not for the present piece, but for the unique six-piece Amazonian gold set, dollar through twenty dollar and including the three dollar gold. W. David Bowers writes in The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889:

    "The short-lived tenure of William Millward, appointed but not confirmed as Mint director, ended in April [1867], and Dr. Henry Richard Linderman took his place. Linderman, an avid numismatist, was in the enviable position to make his own rarities, which he did with reckless abandon. He served two terms in the post: April 1867 to April 1869 and April 1873 to December 1878. Linderman, a medical doctor, was a brilliant man, but, as was the case with every other Mint director since James Ross Snowden in the 1850s, he could not resist the temptation of secretly making restrikes and rarities. This practice continued under others until the summer of 1885. Its effect on the $3 denomination was important and resulted in off-metal Proof strikings of certain dates being made in copper and aluminum, less often in other metals, for the Amazonian pattern $3 of 1872, and for restrikes in gold of several rare dates. Such productions were made without documentation-no paper trail to implicate the perpetrators. Philadelphia dealer John W. Haseltine was the main sales outlet from Mint officers to the rare coin market."

    It is important to note that Linderman was not Mint director when this off-metal aluminum piece was struck--if indeed it was made in 1872. That would have been the term of James Pollock, another two-time director who overlapped with Linderman and served from May 1861 to September 1866 and May 1869 to March 1873. Of Pollock, Bowers writes:

    "Fun and games continued to take place behind the scene as new varieties of pattern coins were produced, mostly of the so-called Standard Silver series (of lighter weight and smaller diameter than those made earlier)--made in silver, copper, and aluminum, with plain edges as well as reeded edges--all in dizzying profusion and proliferation, by the thousands. The curious striking of $3 coins in copper, aluminum, and even nickel is also worthy of mention."

    Aluminum at the time this piece was struck was considered rarer than gold, and the existence of similar aluminum 1872-dated patterns for the quarter eagle, three dollar gold, eagle, and double eagle reinforces the Bowers position. It appears likely that a few complete six-piece "gold sets in aluminum" were produced, possibly along with copper sets. Only three or four examples of each survive today.
    This piece offers remarkable, shimmering surfaces for an early aluminum strike--an unforgiving metal--with intense field-device contrast, much mint frost on the devices, and loads of eye appeal over consistent grayish-white surfaces. Census: 1 in 65 Cameo, 1 finer (12/10).

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 61516)

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2011
    5th-9th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,589

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