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    Description

    1875 Sailor Head Five Dollar, Struck in Gold
    Judd-1438, PR65 Cameo
    Only Two Examples Known

    1875 $5 Sailor Head Five Dollar, Judd-1438, Pollock-1581, R.8, PR65 Cameo PCGS. Ex: Simpson. Only two specimens of Judd-1438, William Barber's 1875 Sailor Head five dollar pattern in gold, are known to collectors today. The two coins are of similar quality and both have been the centerpiece of some of the most important collections of gold patterns in numismatic history. Any public offering of a Judd-1438 is a landmark opportunity for the advanced pattern collector. Heritage Auctions is privileged to offer this spectacular Gem, from the fabulous Bob R. Simpson Collection, in just its third auction appearance.

    Design
    William Barber's famous Sailor Head design, the obverse features a head of Liberty facing left. The drapery over Liberty's shoulders presents the appearance of a collar on a sailor's uniform. Also, the word Liberty is set on a squared-off coronet with two trailing ribbons, this also resembling a sailor's cap. On the reverse, an eagle similar to the one featured on the regular issue twenty cent piece is poised in heraldic fashion. Beneath the eagle is a ribbon with the motto IN GOD WE TRUST, and above the words E PLURIBUS UNUM are set directly onto the field in tiny letters. Struck in gold with a reeded edge. This half eagle design was also struck in copper (Judd-1439, about a dozen known), aluminum (Judd-1440, unique), and white metal (Judd-1440A, unique).

    History of the Coins
    Early pattern specialist Robert Coulton Davis listed Judd-1438 in his seminal work on patterns, which was serialized in the Coin Collector's Journal from 1885 to 1886 (it was number 387 in his listing). However, Davis must have learned about the issue from his contacts at the Mint, because we have found no auction appearances or other mentions of the coins in 19th century sources. USPatterns.com believes these pieces were struck by Chief Coiner (later Philadelphia Mint Superintendent) Archibald Loudon Snowden. Snowden acquired an enormous trove of patterns and other rare coins during his tenure at the Mint, which lasted for decades. He simply exchanged an equivalent amount of coin or bullion for the specimens he wanted, a practice that was legal for Mint employees until the 1930s. He came into possession of the two 1877 half union patterns in gold (Judd-1546 and Judd-1548) in this manner, undoubtedly saving them from the melting pot. Long after he retired, he sold these unique fifty dollar patterns to prominent collector William Woodin for the then unheard of price of $20,000, sometime around 1910. When the public got wind of the transaction it caused an uproar in many quarters, as it was felt that the coins belonged in the Mint Cabinet and should never have been released in the first place. After much legal wrangling, a three-way deal was reached in which Woodin returned the half unions, Snowden kept the money, and Woodin was given Snowden's remaining hoard of patterns and other coins in compensation. In this fashion, William Woodin became the first owner of record of both examples of Judd-1438.

    Woodin eventually sold this coin to super-collector Virgil Brand and the other specimen to Baltimore numismatist Waldo Newcomer. The coins followed separate paths for a while, but were reunited in the famous numismatic gathering of King Farouk of Egypt. They were each a highlight of several famous pattern collections in the following years, before Bob Simpson acquired them both for his unprecedented numismatic holdings (see the roster below for a detailed history of both coins).

    Physical Description
    The present coin is a stunning Gem, with impeccably preserved orange-gold surfaces that show a few highlights of lilac and sea-green in selected areas. A couple of tiny lintmarks are evident in the obverse field, between the end of the ribbon and star 13. Another one is located on the reverse, in the field between the eagle's head and wing. A small planchet flake is noted below the E in AMERICA (curiously, the other known specimen has a similar flake in almost the same position). The design elements are sharply detailed in most areas, with just a touch of softness on the eagle's breast and legs. The fields are deeply mirrored and contrast boldly with the frosty design elements. Eye appeal is terrific. A spectacular example of this extremely rare pattern, this coin should find a home in the finest collection or Registry Set. This coin is pictured on PCGS CoinFacts. Population: 1 in 65 Cameo, 1 in 65 Deep Cameo, 0 finer (4/21).

    Roster of Judd-1438 Known Examples
    1. PR66 Deep Cameo PCGS. Possibly Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Archibald Loudon Snowden; William H. Woodin, circa 1910; Waldo Newcomer; "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 320 or 321 (both known specimens were offered in this sale, back-to-back, impossible to say which coin was which lot); Dr. John E. Wilkison; Paramount International Coin Corporation purchased Wilkison's collection in September 1973; the Wilkison collection was sold intact privately on 4/9/1976 to A-Mark; this coin was purchased by Paramount again in 1978; Paramount Special Price Lists #108, 109, 110, and 112 in 1979; Auction '79 (Paramount, 7/1979), lot 185; Auction '84 (Paramount, 7/1984), lot 536, in the set with the ten dollar Judd-1443; Ed Trompeter; Exclusively Internet Auction (Heritage, 3/2004), lot 12024; Central States Signature (Heritage, 5/2005), lot 8336, realized $287,500; Bob R. Simpson Collection.
    2. PR65 Cameo PCGS. Possibly Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Archibald Loudon Snowden; William H. Woodin, circa 1910; Virgil Brand, via Edgar Adams in 1911 (Brand Journal #57881); Armin Brand (sold on 10/12/1944); King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 320 or 321 (both known specimens were offered in this sale, back-to-back, impossible to say which coin was which lot); Dr. John E. Wilkison; Paramount International Coin Corporation purchased Wilkison's collection in September 1973; the Wilkison collection was sold intact privately on 4/9/1976 to A-Mark; this coin was purchased by Paramount again in 1978; Julian Leidman; ANA Convention Auction (Bowers and Ruddy, 7/1981), lot 2431; southern collection; Bob R. Simpson Collection; the present coin.

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 537358, Base PCGS# 61745)


    View all of [The Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part VI ]

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2021
    18th-22nd Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 26
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,971

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