One of the most intriguing - and mysterious - pattern coins ever produced by the United States is now in a Professional Coin Grading Service (www.PCGS.com) holder: the unique 1814 platinum Capped Bust half dollar with nearly three dozen "P" punch marks. It is graded PCGS Secure Plus XF40.
PCGS will use a “new” Judd reference number, Judd-44a, to differentiate it from any other known platinum 1814 half dollar patterns assigned J-44 that do not have punch marks or the word, "Platina," engraved on the reverse. This particular coin was pictured in the original edition of the reference book, Pattern, Experimental & Trial Coins, authored by J. Hewitt Judd, MD, and the PCGS insert label identifies it as "Judd Plate Coin."
"This is a very rare and important piece of early 19th century American numismatics, and the owner of the coin wanted it certified and encapsulated by PCGS," said Don Willis, President of PCGS, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).
PCGS Founder David Hall elaborated, “This is one of the classic issues in the United States pattern series. I remember first reading the Judd pattern book in the early 1970’s and marveling at the photo of this coin. It is the only platinum pattern issued by the U.S. Mint, and it was struck in 1814! What were they thinking? Wow, what a coin!”
The coin is owned by Midwest collector Charles Link who describes himself as a "Bust half dollar and early American pattern enthusiast." He says "the platinum half is my favorite coin in my Bust half dollar collection. I never expected that I would have the honor of being a steward of this important part of American history, if only for a small snippet of its history."
Link explained: "I felt that the distinct, historic nature of this fascinating platinum Capped Bust half dollar pattern deserved the imprimatur and security of a PCGS advanced Shield (PCGS Secure Plus) holder. The numismatic experts at PCGS created the new designation of Judd-44a to recognize the unique striking of 33 Ps onto the coin's surface that are not present on the Smithsonian's specimen."
Previous owners of this coin include notable numismatists George Woodside, Virgil M. Brand and Dr. Judd. Link acquired the coin for $138,000 at the Heritage Auctions Chicago auction in August 2011. It was displayed on his behalf by Harry Laibstain Rare Coins at the recent American Numismatic Association World's Fair of Money convention in Philadelphia, and will be displayed by Laibstain (booth #354) at the upcoming Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo, November 15 - 18, 2012.
PCGS CoinFacts (www.PCGSCoinFacts.com), the extensive online encyclopedia and image archive of United States coins, states:
"Judd-44 is a very rare die trial of an 1814 Half Dollar struck in platinum. One of the known examples was defaced with a small P punched into the obverse a total of 33 times. The punching was done outside the coining press, as evidenced by the bulges on the reverse opposite each of the punch marks. In addition, the word 'Platina' was hand-engraved into the reverse in cursive writing above the eagle's head. This particular example is the only J-44 confirmed to exist in collectors' hands. Effective October 2012, PCGS began designating this particular coin as J-44a to differentiate it from the example without the punch marks and engraving."
PCGS CoinFacts notes that there may be two other examples of the 1814 platinum pattern half dollar without the punch marks and engraving. One such coin is part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, and it has an obvious test cut. Another example is rumored to exist based on a mention of it by researcher Walter Breen in a 1974 auction catalogue; however, that coin has not been confirmed or seen in the 38 years since then.
The full PCGS CoinFacts description and an illustration of the J-44a pattern are online at www.pcgscoinfacts.com/Coin/Detail/515721.
"It's perhaps the most distinctive and well known coin in the entire (Judd) pattern book. Once you've seen an image of it, you will immediately recognize it forever," said Dave Wnuck, Senior Numismatist at Harry Laibstain Rare Coins.
"Collectors and dealers alike wanted to see it and hold it in their hands at the ANA show this year. It was fascinating to see the reactions. The coin crosses over into so many collecting areas of interest: Bust halves, patterns and trophy coins, and it's the only classic US coin struck in platinum," added Wnuck.
PCGS CoinFacts President Ron Guth noted that aside from this experimental pattern 1814 half dollar, no platinum cons were ever struck by the United States Mint for use as a circulating medium.
"Russia used platinum to produce 3 Roubles from 1828 to 1845, 6 Roubles from 1829 to 1845 and to make 12 Roubles from 1830 to 1845. The confirmed example of J-44 at the Smithsonian and this unique example of J-44a were both struck from the same dies used to produce the Overton 107 variety," said Guth
A photo of the J-44a will be included in the 2013 PCGS calendar.
Since its founding in 1986, Professional Coin Grading Service experts have certified over 25 million coins with a total market value of over $27 billion. PCGS represents the industry standard in third-party certification.
For additional information about PCGS and its services, visit www.PCGS.com or call PCGS Customer Service at (800) 447-8848.