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    Description

    1877 Half Union in Copper
    Judd-1547, PR64 Brown
    Legendary Pattern Issue

    1877 $50 Fifty Dollar, Judd-1547, Pollock-1720, Low R.7, PR64 Brown PCGS. CAC. Ex: Simpson. Large Liberty Head design by William Barber on obverse, reverse design similar to contemporary double eagles except for FIFTY DOLLARS at the bottom rim. Stuck in copper with a reeded edge. The half union or fifty dollar pattern issues of 1877 are among the most storied and celebrated patterns in all of American numismatics. Until the 1915-S Panama-Pacific fifty dollar pieces they were the only U.S. coin issues with a denomination of fifty dollars, and even today they remain the only U.S. patterns of that denomination.

    They are also scandal-ridden issues with stories of skullduggery and Mint shenanigans closely associated with them. While such tales neither increase nor decrease the coins' inherent beauty and considerable rarity, they certainly increase their cachet and marketability.

    In 1877 the Mint created a remarkably variety of patterns, some of the most varied in the entire panoply of U.S. pattern issues. They include the long and interesting series of 1877-dated half dollars and silver dollars by George T. Morgan and William Barber and/or Charles Barber. But the fifty dollar or "half union" patterns (a "union" supposedly representing one hundred dollars) are by far the most remarkable. The Judd pattern reference, 10th edition, notes that Mint Director Henry R. Linderman (himself an avid coin collector and a highly conflicted individual) apparently ordered the patterns created, despite the apparent lack of any defined need. One piece each of the Large Head and Small Head fifty dollar patterns were struck in gold (Judd-1546/1548), along with perhaps a dozen or fewer examples of each in copper (Judd-1547/1549), some of which were later gilt.

    The Large Head pieces show the point of Liberty's coronet equidistant between stars 5 and 6, the neck truncation is much closer to the date, and the lowest hair curls end in a point, while the Small Head pieces show the coronet tip close to star 6, the truncation is distant from the date, and the lowest curls are rounded.

    The www.USPatterns.com website estimates that 10 specimens of the Judd-1547 exist today outside of those in museum collections, namely the Smithsonian, Connecticut State Museum, and Harry W. Bass, Jr. Research Foundation specimens. Of those 10 examples, Saul Teichman lists six as copper, four are gilt copper.

    The Large Head and Small Head gold half unions at one time were the center of a numismatic cause celebre, an uproar created when William H. Woodin exhibited the unique gold pieces, for which he had paid the unheard-of sum of $10,000 each, at the New York Numismatic Club in 1909.

    The present copper example displays bright, light blue patina in the obverse fields and deeper cherry-red mint luster over the central device, while the reverse shows slightly subdued mint red color with occasional dabs of deeper peripheral blue-brown. The mirrored fields are bright and highly reflective on each side.
    Ex: William Woodin; Waldo Newcomer; F.C.C. Boyd; Dr. Hewitt Judd; Abe Kosoff; Great '80 Sale (R.L. Hughes, 7/1980); Charmont Sale (Steve Ivy, 8/1983), lot 4604; Raij Collection (Stack's Bowers, 8/2011), lot 7529.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 2AEW, PCGS# 61891)


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

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