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Article by:

Ron Guth
germancoins.com

Features
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Pattern "Struck-Overs"

Pattern coins, by definition, are experimental pieces created to test new designs, different metal alloys, formats (sizes and weights), or denominations. Out of convenience and economy, most U.S. pattern coins were made using readily available blanks. Occasionally, new alloys were mixed up, rolled out, and the resultant blanks were punched out to the required diameters. In extremely rare instances, existing coins were plucked from circulation and were overstruck using pattern dies. The stories these unusual overstrikes tell can be quite revealing - for example, the dates on some of the host coins are LATER than the dates on the overstrike, proving that some pattern coins were restrikes made years later to satisfy collector demand. Other overstrikes were made privately using dies discarded by the U.S. Mint; these are not official pattern coins but their inclusion in traditional pattern coin listings has given them special status.

The following list of pattern "struck-overs" includes some of the most unusual American pattern coins ever made -- and their fascinating stories.

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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1804 10C Judd A1804-2, Pollock 6070
Struck on an 1838 Large Cent, Newcomb 1. This piece (as well as most of the others in this article) proves that the date on a coin is not necessarily the year in which it was struck. Technically, this piece is not an overstrike since the Dime is so much smaller than the Large Cent -- plus the reverse was struck with a blank punch of the approximate size of a Dime. By themselves, regular-issue 1804 Dimes are quite scarce and this appears to have been made using an obverse die that was discarded by the Mint. This suspicion is confirmed by the extreme late state of the dies, which is never seen on the actual Dimes. The Large Cent was not annealed (softened by heat) before the Dime die was punched in, resulting in myriad, spidery die cracks around the overstrike and deforming the Large Cent into an oval shape. A second example of this type is known, but the host coin has not been identified and may just be a copper blank.




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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1818 1C Judd 45, Pollock 6210, Silver
Struck over an 1860 Quarter Dollar. This piece is clearly a private strike using mis-matched dies discarded by the Mint. It combines the obverse of an 1818 Quarter Dollar (Browning 2) and the reverse of an 1818 Large Cent (used on Newcomb 8 and 10). At one time, this was believed to have been struck over an 1800 Quarter Dollar -- a coin that never existed. Another interesting anomaly found on this piece is that the reeded edge of the Quarter Dollar has been flattened, indicating that it was struck in a close collar - something that was not in use on American coins until 1827.



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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1827/3 25C B-2, Judd 48a, Square Base 2 in 25C, Restrike, Period One (Class II)
Struck over a Draped Bust Quarter Dollar of undetermined date. The provenance on this coin is lengthy and goes all the way back to Adam Eckfeldt, the second Chief Coiner at the Philadelphia Mint from 1814 to 1839. Unlike the later restrikes, the dies on this piece show minimal rust and the strike details are as strong as on any of the Original 1827/3 Quarters. Could it have been struck in 1827 to test a close collar, was it struck later, and did Eckfeldt really own this coin?

1827/3 25C B-2, Judd 48a, Square Base 2 in 25C, Restrike, Period One (Class II)
Struck over a Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle Quarter Dollar of undetermined date. Similar to the preceding piece, with the same characteristics, the same Eckfeldt ownership, and the same unanswered questions. However, both this and the preceding coin are the closest to being true patterns of all of the coins on this list because they were struck near the time when the Mint was experimenting with (and adopting) close collars, accounting for the crushed edge lettering on both coins.



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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1836 $1 Judd 67, Pollock 70
Struck over an 1859 Gold Dollar. Traces of the word DOLLAR and the date 1859 are visible near the center of the reverse. This coin was once part of the fabulous Dr. John E. Wilkison collection, one of the most complete collections of U.S. gold pattern coins. The 1859 date is a dead-giveaway that this is a later restrike.



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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1838 50C Judd 83a, Pollock 92, Copper, Plain Edge, Unique
Counterfeit 1838 50C dies struck twice over a genuine 1798 Large Cent
Plated on p. 93 of Keith R. Davignon's "Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars", 2nd edition. An obvious concoction that somehow made it into the Judd listing, thus giving it elite status among contemporary counterfeit Half Dollars. In Judd's defense, the coin looks legitimate. Judd may never have seen the actual coin or he may have relied on prior listings. Either way, he did not have the benefit of subsequent research and the excellent, digital photography of today.



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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1838 $1 Judd 84, Pollock 93, Silver, Reeded Edge, Gobrecht, Restrike, Die Alignment III
Struck over an 1859 Silver Dollar. This overstrike was first publicized by Walter Breen in the May 1957 issue of "The Numismatist." This is one of the "coolest" Gobrecht Dollars. The host coin was positioned in the press such that the 1838 date sat atop part of the underlying 1859.



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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1852 $1 Judd 137, Pollock 164, Gold, Reeded Edge, Rarity 8
Struck over a cut-down Quarter Eagle (possibly an 1846). This Annular (or Ring Dollar) attempted to overcome the objection that existing Gold Dollars were too small. The diameter matched that of the $2.50 Quarter Eagle, but by punching out the center, the weight matched that of a Gold Dollar. Unfortunately, the width of the outer "ring" provided limited space for the legally-required design elements.



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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1852 $1 Judd 137, Pollock 164, Gold, Reeded Edge, Rarity 8
Struck over an 1859 $2.50. Similar to the preceding except this one has a clearly legible 1859 date on the wreath side. This coin was once owned by the legendary collectors Col. E.H.R. Green and King Farouk of Egypt.



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Credit: Mike Byers

1852 $1 Judd 138, Pollock 165, Silver, Plain Edge, Thin Planchet, Rarity 7
Struck over a gold-plated, cut-down Seated Liberty, Legend Obverse Dime. This unique item, discovered by Mike Byers and announced in July 2018 is the only known instance where a coin was gold-plated BEFORE it was struck. Adding gold plating to a pattern coin that had already been struck appears to have been a frequent occurrence at the U.S. Mint, though some coins may have been gold-plated at a later date or outside the Mint. However, until this coin appeared, no previously-plated host coin was known to exist.



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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1852 $1 Judd 138, Pollock 165, Silver, Plain Edge, Thick Planchet, Rarity 8
Struck over a cut-down 1860 Dime. Similar to the preceding except that, in this case, the Dime was not gold-plated before or after striking. This type did not bear a denomination on either side but was clearly intended for a Gold Dollar (why make an underweight Ring Dime when regular Dimes were already being made with no complaints?). At least two of these are known.



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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1852 $1 Judd 145, Pollock 173, Gold, Plain Edge, Thick Planchet, Rarity 5
Struck over a $2.50 gold piece of undetermined date. This was a more sophisticated version of the Ring Dollars, with denticled borders on both sides, a full UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and an actual DOLLAR denomination on the reverse. Like so many of the other patterns in this list, it was most likely a restrike made in a later year to be sold or traded to a collector.



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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1852 $1 Judd 146, Pollock 174, Silver, Plain Edge, Rarity 8
Struck over an 1860 Dime. Identical in design to the preceding and, in this case, the date of the host coin is legible and the Restrike status is indisputable.



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Credit: Heritage Numismatic Auctions

1865 $1 Judd 434, Pollock 507, Silver, Reeded Edge, Rarity 7-
Struck over an 1866 Silver Dollar
This is a so-called "transitional" pattern that purportedly bridged the design change from the old No Motto type to the new With Motto type that went into production in 1866. However, the 1866 of the host coin is readily apparent under the 1865 date. To make matters even more interesting, it was once believed that the host coin was dated 1853; however, close examination of high-quality digital images refutes that claim.



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Credit: Professional Coin Grading Service

1915 50C Judd 1960 (formerly Judd 1793), Pollock 2031, Gold, Reeded Edge
Struck over a cut-down Saint-Gaudens $20 and lacking the usual "S" Mintmark. Apparently, the Philadelphia Mint played around with the Panama-Pacific Exposition dies before sending them out to San Francisco, as several off-metal Half Dollars and Dollars are known without mintmarks and there are even unconfirmed reports of Fifty Dollars (Octagonal and Round) in silver. At least two Half Dollars, including this one, were struck on Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles that had been cut down to Half Dollar size, then filed down (but not completely enough to obliterate all the details of the host coin).



HONORABLE MENTIONS:

What do you call a regular issue coin struck over a Pattern? At least seven 1795 Half Cents exist with undertypes of copper 1794 Half Dollars. In a true demonstration of frugality, U.S. Mint employees in 1795 took copper pattern 1794 Half Dollars, cut them down in size, then struck them as 1795 Half Cents and released them into circulation!

The existence of these pattern overstrikes and the recent discovery (2018) of a new type should motivate collectors and researchers to examine their pattern coins more closely. Who knows what interesting host coins and "struck-over" patterns are out there waiting to be discovered?

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