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    1916 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-1994, PR64
    Finest Available of Two or Three Known

    1916 50C Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Judd-1994, formerly Judd-1801, Pollock-2059, R.8, PR64 NGC.
    The obverse is somewhat similar to the regular issue as adopted, but the 1916 date is small and tightly compacted together. The 1's in the date have tiny serifs on top and bottom, and diagonal flag-shaped tops. The letters in LIBERTY are heavy and slightly further from the rim than on the regular issue, closer to Liberty's foot. Burdette points out that the right heel, foot, and the T of TRUST are farther from the rim than on the circulation dies. The reverse is also similar to the regular issue, but it lacks the AW monogram (for designer Adolph A. Weinman) behind the eagle, to the right of the rock, which was placed on the regular issues.

    This pattern, although similar, shows some distinct differences on the obverse that no dedicated collector of Walking Liberty halves would mistake for a regular-issue piece. Breen's Complete Encyclopedia notes that the date is "very small and closely spaced, not extending beyond foot."

    Some business strike and proof Walking Liberty half dollars also lack the AW monogram, due either to omission or commission. That is, the initials were either never placed into the dies, or they were subsequently lapped off. This pattern was identified as Judd-1801 before the eighth edition of that reference.

    The current (ninth) edition notes that examples of Judd-1994 are "believed to have been struck between September 25 and October 21, 1916." The following comments from Roger Burdette's Renaissance of American Coinage 1916-21 are useful in providing an understanding of the 1916 patterns:

    "The year 1916 saw the largest group of experimental (or pattern) coins produced by the U.S. Mint since the late 1870s. Unlike most nineteenth century patterns--samples intended to show what a potential coin design would look like before a design was accepted--the designs for the three subsidiary coins had been approved before any of the experimental coins were made. The 1916 coins were intended to show the accepted designs in their final forms immediately prior to commencement of production. This affected the coinage in three ways: first, with one documented exception, the experimental coins were not intentionally made with special finishing such as sandblast or brilliant proof. Second, they were struck at ordinary production pressures on normal planchets rather than at high pressure on specially prepared blanks. Third, they were 'experimental coins' and were expected to be examined by the mint and the artists for their faults rather than their virtues.
    "In most instances, Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Adam Joyce wanted to know if a change in design had solved a coinage problem--hence, a pattern or experimental coin was struck so the results could be compared with previous versions. These mechanical experiments resulted in the creation of many more patterns than one would think necessary. Evidently, each change in design was modeled, reductions and hubs made, and sample coins struck for review by secretary McAdoo, directors Woolley and von Engelken, and superintendent Joyce. Some patterns were significantly different from the later circulation coins, but many differed only in minor placement of lettering or details of the figures. Limited records were kept of the dies and pattern coins resulting in some patterns entering circulation. The greatest number of known patterns were created for the half dollar; however, mint documents suggest that the dime and quarter were also troublesome and resulted in a significant number of experimental coins. Comments by [Standing Liberty quarter designer] Hermon MacNeil in January 1917, suggest that there may have been a considerable number of quarter patterns made, but none have survived."
    "All of the pattern coin examined by the author have fields that are either polished, smooth and nonreflective, or lightly textured. None of the examples appear to be deliberate sandblast or satin proofs and most look like fairly ordinary circulation strikes with impaired luster."

    Physical Description. This is by far the finest known example--possibly the only specimen available in the marketplace at any price.
    The silver-gray surfaces are "lightly textured" in appearance, to borrow Burdette's term, although the exact method of imparting that texture is unknown. A bit of greenish color appears in the right obverse field, just behind Liberty's flag and flora. There is little evidence of contact on either side, as expected for the near-Gem grade. And despite the Burdette caveats above, the strike is sharply executed, with high, squared-off rims at the border and excellent device detailing throughout. The thumb on Liberty's branch hand is fully articulated, and indeed the details elsewhere, such as on the head and sandals, appear full, although we have no other specimens available against which to compare this fabulous piece. A small diagonal stripe of dark toning at the fore of the eagle's throat serves as a pedigree marker.

    Only two or three examples are known of this extremely rare pattern. One is impounded--presumably (and hopefully) forever--in the Smithsonian. Another circulated example reported by Walter Breen is now untraced, to our knowledge. The present example is not only extremely rare and in top condition, but it may also be the only specimen available at any price:
    1. B.M. Douglas; donated in 1963 to Smithsonian Institution, 237132.0001. PR63 or thereabouts.
    2. King Farouk "Palace Collection" (Sotheby's, 2/1954); William Mitkoff (4/1974); James Bennett Pryor; Congressman Jimmy Hayes Collection (Stack's, 10/1985), lot 69. The present specimen.
    3. (?) (Breen-5126: "Pvt. coll., worn"), untraced today.
    From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 2AMZ, PCGS# 62298)

    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
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