1878 Patterns by Variety | Patterns by Date

Obverse of Judd 1576       Reverse of Judd 1576

1878 Pattern Half Eagle

Variety equivalents:
Adams-Woodin = Judd 1576 = Pollock 1769

Rarity: Very Rare

Metal content: Copper

Edge: Reeded

Images courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.

Significant examples:
1. PCGS Proof-66 Brown (illustrated above).  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "The California Sale", October 2-3, 2000, Lot 601, where it was described (in part) as follows:  "A stunning pattern half eagle which is struck in copper, and unlike most of the others, was not gilt. The surfaces are outstanding, resplendent beyond description, and the colors, deep mahogany with hints of blue and red exude originality seldom seen in the last half century. We know that this coin has been tucked away for over 60 years in a private collection, most had forgotten about its existence. Furthermore, most of the few known of this pattern have been gilt, and are thus gold in color from the plating process. In the Pollock reference we note that the Smithsonian is trying to corner the market on this pattern, they apparently have 3 of them! Others have been tied up for many years in foundations, which have recently been sold. In the recent PCGS Population Report, only 3 have been graded, one PR-63 Red, a PR-65 Red and brown and this superb PR-66 Brown. For all intents and purposes, this is clearly the finest known of the few available, and one of the very few original copper pieces that has not been gilt.  This pattern was designed by William Barber, the obverse head of Liberty facing left and wearing a large cap (not unlike the then new Morgan silver dollar), with a band inscribed LIBERTY. Her cap is ornamented with two wheat ears, and her hair curls cascade below her shoulders. Thirteen stars are arranged seven on the left and six right, and separated by the motto IN GOD WE TRUST at the top in tiny letters.  On the reverse, we completely agree with the description of this pattern issue given by the cataloger at Bowers and Merena in the Harry Bass, Jr., Sale I (lot 1375) where the term "Ugly Eagle" was coined. The eagle's left wing (viewers right) is grossly disproportionate to its body, and the right wing is similarly too large. Even the branch is much too big from a proportion standpoint when compared with the size of a bald eagle. The upper arrowhead is incomplete, and everything about this reverse loudly states "rush job" or engraved by a trainee. Above the eagle is the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM which staggers across the field as if it can't make up its mind to be in a slight arc, or on a straight line. Around the eagle is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and FIVE DOLLARS below. All devices are very sharply struck, and this coin is superbly preserved. If Barber was involved in engraving this reverse, he was having what must have been a very off day--even for him--and we can easily see why this new design was not adopted."

Sources and/or recommended reading: