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    Description

    Likely Unique 1876 Sailor Head Dollar
    Struck in Copper, Plain Edge, Judd-1458
    PR66 Red and Brown, Only Certified Example

    1876 $1 Sailor Head Dollar, Judd-1458, Pollock-1608, Likely Unique, PR66 Red and Brown NGC.
    Design.
    On the obverse a head of Liberty faces left in a plain (starless) field, with only the date 1876 below. She wears a coronet inscribed LIBERTY in raised letters, and her hair is tied back with a ribbon. On the reverse a thick central laurel wreath frames ONE / DOLLAR, with the country reference above and Latin motto below. Struck in copper with a plain edge.

    Commentary.
    The William Barber Liberty Head is more popularly known as the Sailor Head, an appellation that appears more recent than monikers such as Washlady, Shield Earring, and Schoolgirl, all of which seem to date back to the 1891 sale of the Doughty Collection by Harlan P. Smith and David Proskey. Indeed, even in the 1981 ANA Sale conducted by Bowers and Ruddy, the catalogers omit the Sailor Head nickname from all of the 1875-1877 pattern issues of similar design. In any case, the Sailor Head design is a theme and variations that carries over from 1875 through 1877 through various denominations and metals, some of the pieces clearly "with pattern intent" and some of them almost certainly numismatic delicacies, to borrow the old term. The Judd reference points to Mint Director Henry R. Linderman as the source for many of the latter, clearly a man not averse to lining his own pockets.

    Among the Sailor Head designs with pattern intent are the 1875 twenty cent pieces where the theme first appeared (Judd-1392 through Judd-1395). In contrast, the eagle patterns with a similar obverse (Judd-1443 through 1445) seem to be more fantasy pieces, as there was clearly no intent to change the long-running and successful Liberty Head motif on the ten dollar or other gold denominations. The 1875 Sailor Head ten dollar reverses, however, feature the perched eagle design that would end up on the regular-issue twenty cent piece and Trade dollars of 1875, while the twenty cent pieces mentioned above have an unusual reverse, with 20 incused in large numbers into a shield.

    The Sailor Head motif would reappear in 1876 on the silver dollar patterns (Judd-1457 through 1466), struck in various metals and with minor design differences of other kinds. The pattern dollars of 1876 are an important specialty within pattern collecting. No silver dollars were produced for domestic circulation within the United States, of course, from 1873 until 1878, and the Centennial date makes the 1876 pattern dollars doubly important. All are extremely rare.

    With regards to the present Judd-1458 1876 Sailor Head struck in copper, plain edge, USPatterns.com lists the present coin as unique, providing the provenance expanded below. The Bowers and Ruddy cataloging in the Sieck sale that claimed there were four pieces known was clearly referring to the reeded edge Judd-1458A, of which perhaps a half-dozen pieces exist. Similarly, the Judd-1458, Pollock-1608 specimen listed in Pollock from the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Research Foundation is in reality a Judd-1458a, Pollock-1607, clearly described in the Bass Collection Sale (Bowers and Merena, 5/1999, lot 1266) as "Copper. Reeded edge." As further evidence, the present coin is the only certified Judd-1458 at either NGC or PCGS, while there are eight examples of the Judd-1458A at both services combined.

    Physical Description.
    The resemblances to the color plate in the Sieck catalog are unsurprising and unmistakable, with generous amounts of mint red complementing tinges of blue that is most prominent along the lower obverse rim, to the left of the date. A couple of tiny flecks at the rear neck and the rear bust truncation provide even more conclusive plate-matching. Generous luster cascades from both sides, with a well-delivered strike and essentially no distractions of any sort. NGC Census: one PR66 Red and Brown (this piece). PCGS Population: none, as expected (11/08).

    Provenance.
    Ex: Fairfield (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1977), lot 63, considerably miscataloged but a plate match; William R. "Rudy" Sieck Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 7/1981), lot 277.
    From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 2ACM, PCGS# 71778)


    View all of [The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2009
    7th-11th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,367

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