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Patterns May Attract Those Wanting Unusual Specialty

October 29, 1987|DON ALPERT

Question: I have owned for about 20 years an 1858 Indian Head cent, which for some reason unknown to me, the entire numismatic fraternity seems to pretend does not exist.

To my knowledge, this coin is an exact parallel to the 1856 Flying Eagle cent, which is recognized in all coin publications. The only published reference acknowledging the existence of my coin that I have found is in Dr. Judd's work, "Trial Pieces and Patterns."

I believe my coin has a degree of rarity. It is a beautiful matte proof. I have no intention of selling the coin, so I will not ask you to evaluate it monetarily, but I am curious why this coin is so ignored and not even included in R. S. Yeoman's "Guide Book of United States Coins."--L.I.

Answer: Your coin is a pattern, which means it is a test piece that was never officially put into circulation. Patterns are usually made in small quantities and can be rejected for many reasons, sometimes aesthetic, sometimes practical--such as not holding up well under mass production. In any event, because they are not adopted officially, they become curiosities.

There is not a wide collector demand for patterns, although some avid specialists do exist. Most often you will find patterns for sale at auctions, and bidding can be intense.

As you mentioned, Yeoman's "Guide Book" does not list patterns except, perhaps, the $4 gold Stella. The reason, as I have indicated, is that patterns do not trade as heavily as more popular coins, and prices are not likely to fluctuate from year to year.

Even though you are not interested in the value of your coin, some readers might be. It is probably in the $350-to-$500 range, depending on condition. Patterns are a good area to explore for anyone seeking an uncrowded numismatic specialty. But don't complain if you end up with very little company.

Q: I inherited a beautiful old Series of 1907 $5 bank note, K12487059, issued in Washington, D.C. A peasant couple with a dog are pictured in the center, and Andrew Jackson appears in the left-hand oval. It is charcoal on one side, bright green on the other. Surely it must be a collectible, and I would appreciate a clue as to its market value.--M.E.H.

A: Your bill is worth from $35 to $150, depending upon condition.

Q: I was born in 1920 and have looked for a silver dollar of that year but have not found one. How many were minted that year?--J.C.S.

A: The reason you cannot find a silver dollar dated 1920 is that none was minted that year. Morgan dollars were issued from 1878 to 1904. Then, after an interruption, they were resumed for just 1921. Peace dollars were first issued in 1921 and continued until 1935. But, as you can see, no silver dollars were issued in 1920. However, you can get half dollars, quarters, dimes, nickels and cents of that date, and also some gold pieces.

Q: I just inherited the following; please advise on the worth: 1971 Eisenhower $1, proof and uncirculated in plastic; 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1978 Eisenhower $1; 50 Kennedy 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1967; 50 Kennedy "sandwiches" 1974, 1975 and 1976; 1908 50-cent silver and used 25-cent silver 1943 to 1964.--L.L.

A: The 1971 proof Ike $1 is worth $6, the 1971 uncirculated $1 is $4; the other Eisenhower dollars are worth face value; the 1964 Kennedy halves are $2.50; the Kennedy halves 1965-67 are 80 cents each; the "sandwich" Kennedy halves are face value, the 1908 half dollar is $2 and the silver quarters are $1.25 each.

Q: I have a 1964 New York World's Fair silver commemorative coin. It is 99% silver and numbered on the edge. Could you tell me what its value might be?--B.P.

A: What you have is a medal, not a coin. It would be worth more to a collector of World's Fair memorabilia than to a general coin collector. You can only expect to get the bullion value of the silver plus about a 10% premium from a dealer. If it is uncirculated and it has a relatively low number, it might have some extra value.

Q: Concerning the 1978 aluminum penny mentioned in one of your columns, I was really flabbergasted. I was saving wheat pennies and I came across a 1978 aluminum penny about six or seven years ago. I do have wheat pennies dated 1943 in a silver finish, but this 1978 aluminum penny is not a wheat variety. I would like to sell it, but as you often mention you have to have a buyer.--M.M.

A: No one will buy your aluminum cent until it is known to be genuine. Such a coin has to be authenticated. The American Numismatic Assn., 818 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, Colo. 80903, provides such a service.Coin News

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