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    1878 Quarter Eagle in Gold
    Judd-1566, PR67 Cameo
    The Only Known Example

    1878 $2 1/2 Quarter Eagle, Judd-1566, Pollock-1756, R.8, PR67 Cameo PCGS. Ex: Simpson. Only a single example of Judd-1566 is known to collectors today, making it one of the most elusive issues in the U.S. pattern series. In addition to its absolute rarity, this unique pattern possesses an impeccably preserved, beautiful design and an air of mystery that make it a sought-after prize for advanced collectors. Heritage Auctions is privileged to offer this unparalleled numismatic rarity in its first auction appearance in 28 years.

    Designed by Mint Engraver George T. Morgan, the obverse features a large head of Liberty facing left, with the point of the bust truncation extending to the border. Liberty's hair is pulled back into a bun behind her head, secured by a ribbon, with a large curl falling from the knot down the back of her neck. A hair band with the incuse inscription LIBERTY runs from the forehead to the ribbon. Around the head is the widely spaced motto E PLURIBUS UNUM, with the date 1878 below.

    The central reverse device is a large eagle with raised wings, holding three arrows in its left talon and an olive branch with seven leaves in its right talon. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is around, with the denomination 2 ½ DOLLARS below. Struck in gold, with a reeded edge, on a large, thin planchet (diameter 20.5 mm).

    The design was also struck in copper (Judd-1567), with about a dozen examples known, some of them gilt.

    History of the Coin
    The wider, thinner planchet of Judd-1566 (20.5 mm vs. 18 mm diameter for a standard quarter eagle) followed the "anti-counterfeiting" concept introduced by Dr. J.T. Barclay on the pattern half eagle of 1860, Judd-271. Barclay believed the most dangerous, hardest to detect, method of counterfeiting U.S. gold coins was to hollow out the inner gold core of the coins and replace the extracted metal with an equal amount of platinum, which was less expensive than gold, but weighed about the same. Barclay theorized the thinner planchet would make this operation much more difficult for would-be counterfeiters, but the idea was dropped after a few experimental pieces were struck. Judd-1566 was also quickly abandoned, probably due to the same production difficulties encountered with the Type Two gold dollars.

    The early history of this unique gold pattern remains a fascinating mystery. The copper Judd-1567 patterns appeared in several 19th century collections, but the gold Judd-1566 was not offered in any public offering we can locate. Early pattern specialist Robert Coulton Davis did not list Judd-1566 in his seminal work on patterns, published serially in 1885 through 1887 in the Coin Collector's Journal. The issue seems to have been completely off-the-radar in the numismatic community before the turn of the century. Similarly, Edgar Adams and William Woodin did not mention Judd-1566 in their standard pattern reference in 1913. This indicates the coin was not included in the hoard of patterns Woodin acquired from Archibald Loudon Snowden in exchange for returning the two Half Union patterns to the Mint in 1910. Some far-seeing collector with good connections at the Mint must have acquired the coin at an early date and carefully preserved it in his private holdings for several decades before it became widely known. William Idler, who was active in the 1870s and acquired many delicacies from the Mint during that time frame, would be a logical suspect. Idler kept much of his collection intact until his death in 1901, when it passed to his son-in-law, prominent coin dealer John W. Haseltine. Haseltine marketed many coins from Idler's holdings in the early 20th century, including several 1884 Trade dollars, but it is impossible to say for certain if the unique Judd-1566 was among them.

    The first owner-of-record for the Judd-1566 pattern was Baltimore numismatist Waldo Newcomer. Newcomer compiled a fabulous collection of U.S. coins in the first quarter of the 20th century, but the Great Depression hit his interests hard and he sold his mainline collection on a consignment basis through B. Max Mehl circa 1931. The ultra-rare Judd-1566 passed to colorful collector "Colonel" E.H.R. Green, and later to the even more eccentric playboy ruler of Egypt, King Farouk. Abe Kosoff later secured the coin for Dr. J. Hewitt Judd, author of the standard pattern reference. It was also a highlight of Dr. John E. Wilkison's collection in the 1960s, possibly the greatest collection of gold patterns ever assembled up to that time. After Wilkison sold his collection to Paramount in 1973, the coin passed through some dealer intermediaries and a string of Superior auctions in the 1990s before finding a home in Bob Simpson's incomparable pattern collection. It has not been publicly offered since 1993.

    Physical Appearance
    This magnificent Superb Gem exhibits sharply detailed design elements with a rich coat of mint frost that creates intense cameo contrast with the deeply reflective fields. The virtually flawless orange-gold surfaces show a tiny lint mark in the reverse field, between the eagle's wing and the A in STATES. A small spot of granularity below the C in AMERICA acts as a pedigree marker. Overall eye appeal is terrific. This landmark rarity has been off the market since 1993 and it may be decades before it becomes available again. The discerning collector should bid accordingly. This coin is pictured on PCGS CoinFacts. Population: 1 in 67 Cameo, 0 finer (2/21).
    Ex: Waldo Newcomer; "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; sold to F.C.C. Boyd on 6/23/1943, via B.G. Johnson; King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 329; Abe Kosoff; Dr. J. Hewitt Judd; Illustrated History of U.S. Coins (Kosoff, 1961), lot 529; Dr. John E. Wilkison in 1962; Paramount International Coin Corporation in September 1973; A-Mark; Auction '90 (Superior, 8/1990), lot 1454; Orlando Sale (Superior, 8/1992), lot 494; January-February Auction (Superior, 1/1993), lot 1192; southern collection; Bob R. Simpson Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 537320)

    View all of [Important Selections from The Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part V ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2021
    22nd-25th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 24
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,268

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

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