According to Pioneer Gold expert, Don Kagin, these coins were struck by a Philadelphia die sinker who had never seen Pikes Peak. Thus, the front of the coin bears a triangular, stylized version that is drastically different from the real mountain. For obvious reasons, the design was rejected, but not until after numerous copper strikings had occurred. Some of the copper versions have been plated with gold or silver, but it is difficult to determine when the plating took place and by whom it was done.
Various researchers have called these either patterns or die trials; PCGS recognizes them as die trials. The copper versions are fairly common in the context of any Pioneer coinage, but the plated versions are more scarce. Very few quality examples are known; in fact, the finest certified example is a single PCGS MS64BN.