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Unique 1865 Half Dollar Judd-431 Pollock-504
By Heritage

The obverse 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 Lohr Collection.

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.

 



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