REVISITING THE DR. JOHN E. WILKISON COLLECTION OF GOLD U.S. PATTERNS, Part II

Posted on December 19, 2017 by

In this installment, I continue our journey through the amazing collection of U.S. Gold Pattern Coins built by Dr. John E. Wilkison.

325639PCGS MS62

1849 $1 Gold Pattern, Judd 115, Pollock 130, Gold, Plain Edge

Gold Dollars were not included as part of the American coinage scheme until 1849. When contemplating the new denomination, a concern was the size of the coin. If made of the normal weight, the diameter of a gold dollar was only 14.3 millimeters — the smallest of any coins then in use in America. A coin so small could be lost easily, so experiments were made to enlarge the diameter of the coin without altering the weight. Judd 115 illustrates that concept. James B. Longacre, who was ultimately responsible for the final designs, cut each of these patterns by hand, adding denticles, stars, lettering, numerals, and a wreath as incuse elements of the die. Because of the hand-engraving, each Judd 115 is unique in the size, placement, and relative positions of the various design elements.  Even the shape of the central perforation varies: some are square in shape; others are more rectangular.  Researcher David Akers speculated that as many as nine or ten examples existed, but the actual number may be closer to six or seven.

Dr. Wilkison owned two examples of the Judd 115. One is illustrated above; the second is the plate coin in David Akers’ “United States Gold Patterns.”

469987PCGS PR65+

(1852) 50C Pattern, Judd 135, Pollock 162, Gold, Reeded Edge

Judd 135 was the only gold pattern ever considered for the Half Dollar denomination.  Like Judd 115, it showed how a perforated design could be used to enlarge the small amount of gold contained in a Half Dollar.  For Judd 135, Mint employees used a uniface obverse with a denticled border.  For the other side, they used the reverse die of a Half Dime.  Despite being of such a small diameter (15.9 millimeters), an oversized perforation was required to achieve the proper weight.  Akers doubted this was a Half Dollar Pattern, but an 1852-dated letter from the Mint Director, George Eckert to Senator R. Hunter states clearly that this a proposal for a half dollar in gold.  This fits with what was going on in 1852, simply that large quantities of gold from the California mines needed to be turned into coins.

Dr. Wilkison owned two examples of the Judd 135. The example illustrated here is the plate coin in David Akers’ “United States Gold Patterns.”  As of this writing, it resides in the Simpson Collection as a PCGS PR65+.  Simpson owns the second Wilkison example, as well — a lovely PCGS PR66 with the following pedigree:

W.H. Woodin Collection – Lenox R. Lohr Collection – Stack’s 4/1962:2193 – Dr. John E. Wilkison Collection, whose collection was sold intact in 9/1973 – Paramount International Coin Corporation, sold privately on 4/9/1976 (as part of the intact Wilkison Collection) – A-Mark – Paramount “Auction ‘79” 7/1979:171 – Paramount “Auction ‘82” 8/1982:1810 – Bob R. Simpson Collection (as PCGS PR66)

The National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution holds two Judd 135’s and a fifth is believed to exist somewhere “out there.”

151432PCGS PR66

Judd 136, P-163, Gold, Reeded Edge

Judd 136 is a companion coin to Judd 135.  Both were made at the same time (per the letter referenced above) and the purpose of Judd 136 was to create a perforated Gold Dollar.  At least four examples are known, with the possibility of a fifth.  Dr. Wilkison owned one example which he obtained from Dr. Judd in a massive trade in 1962.  The pedigree of Dr. Wilkison’s example is as follows:

DeWitt Smith Collection – Virgil Brand Collection (#46971) – Horace Brand – F.C.C. Boyd Collection – Dr. J. Hewitt Judd Collection – Dr. John E. Wilkison Collection, whose collection was sold intact in 9/1973 – Paramount International Coin Corporation, sold privately on 4/9/1976 (as part of the intact Wilkison Collection) – A-Mark – LRIS Collection – Superior 1/2008:658, $40,250- Bob R. Simpson Collection (as PCGS PR66, illustrated above)

In the next installment, we’ll look at the rest of Dr. Wilkison’s 1852 Gold Patterns

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