Unique 1865 Half Dollar Judd-431 Pollock-504
features the familiar Liberty Seated design used
for regular-issue coinage in 1865. The reverse
design consists of the traditional perched eagle
motif, with the addition of the scroll and motto
IN GOD WE TRUST. The reverse design was not
adopted for regular coinage of this denomination
until 1866. Struck in aluminum with a reeded
edge. Sold at the 2009 January Orlando, FL
Heritage FUN Auction #1121 Lot: 1639 for $46,000
It is possible that Judd-431 was struck in 1865
as a die trial piece, but it seems unlikely.
There is no discernible reason to test the
transitional pattern dies in such an exotic and
expensive metal in 1865. Walter Breen noted that
the obverse die was different from any of the
regular-issue No Motto proofs produced in that
year. It is most likely that Judd-431 is a
fantasy piece, created for sale to collectors at
a later date.
Whatever its origin, the extreme rarity of this
issue is not in doubt. Andrew Pollock, the
latest Judd reference, and USPatterns.com all
list this coin as unique. Robert Coulton Davis
was aware of the issue and listed it as number
198 in his pioneering work on patterns in 1885.
There was no example of Judd-431 in the R.C.
Davis Collection (New York Coin and Stamp,
1/1890) at the time it was sold. Davis must have
known about the coin from another source. The
piece was also missing from the Parmelee
Collection, Woodin’s consignment at the 1914 ANS
Exhibition, the King Farouk Collection, and the
A search of auction records has uncovered only
two appearances in the last century, the last
more than 24 years ago. It is clear that this
issue has been underestimated in the past. The
present offering may represent a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire this
unique and desirable pattern.
Physical Description. The obverse features an
extraordinary strike, with exquisite detail in
the hair and star centers. The reverse is
equally sharp, with all design elements crisply
delineated. The brilliant surfaces show strong
field-device contrast on each side and, in
addition to the extraordinarily well preserved
surfaces, produce outstanding eye appeal. A
stunning and, of course, un-improvable specimen.
Neither NGC nor PCGS has ever certified another.