Posted on November 28, 2018 by

This is the final chapter in the story of Dr. John E. Wilkison’s fabulous collection of gold U.S. Pattern Coins.  In this installment, we’ll take a look at the four 1907-dated Patterns in the good Doctor’s collection, all of which were designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  They rank as some of the most popular of all U.S. coinage designs.  In particular, the 1907 Indian Head $20 pattern is the flagship coin for the PCGS CoinFacts site and it is quite possibly the most valuable, collectible U.S. coin in existence.

1907 $10 Indian, Wire Edge, With Periods, Judd 1901 (formerly Judd 1774), Pollock 1995, Gold, Ornamented Edge of 46 Stars
This is not the Wilkison coin, but is included here as a representative example of the type.  The Wilkison example had some distinctive toning patterns, but I have been unable to tie it to any modern appearances.  It is possible that Wilkison’s coin has been conserved and is no longer identifiable as being from the his Collection.

Jud 1774 is one of the most plentiful of all the U.S. gold patterns, but it is still rare and highly desirable.  It is known as the Wire edge because of the sharp rim where the flat border meets the edge.  Mint officials complained that the coins could not be stacked, so Saint-Gaudens made changes to the design which resulted in the next Pattern in the Wilkison Collection — the 1907 “Rolled Edge” $10.

Pedigree: Charlie Green (Chicago coin dealer), sold privately in 1942 for $125 – Dr. John E. Wilkison Collection. Subsequent pedigree unknown.

1907 $10 Indian, Rolled Edge, Judd 1903 (formerly Judd 1775), Gold, Ornamented Edge of 46 Stars

This is also not the Wilkison coin, which had toning spots which do not match any known examples in the “modern” era.  A third possibility is that both the Judd 1901 and the Judd 1903 from the Wilkison Collection are holed up in some unknown collection.

Judd 1903 was an intermediate step between Judd 1901 and the regular issue design that was eventually made for circulation.  Judd 1903 is known as the “Rolled Edge” because of the rounded border on both sides — an improvement over the failed Wire Edge coins.  In fact, the Mint produced large quantities of Judd 1903, but before they were released into circulation, a decision was made to modify the design even more.  The entire mintage — except for an estimated 50 examples — was destroyed.

Pedigree: Charlie Green (Chicago coin dealer), sold privately in 1942 for $125 – Dr. John E. Wilkison Collection. Subsequent pedigree unknown.

1907 $20 Judd 1905 (formerly Judd 1776), Pollock 1998, Gold, Lettered Edge
Raw Superb Gem Proof 67+
Image courtesy of the late David Akers

Judd 1905 (more popularly known by its previous and more numismatically significant moniker, Judd 1776) is one of the greatest of Augustus Saint-Gaudens many masterpieces.  It combines the Indian Head obverse design with a flying eagle reverse, all in the large-diameter format of a $20 gold piece.  It is unique.  It is remarkable.  It is hidden away in a specialized collection of $2o gold pieces, where it is likely to stay.  Rumored enticements of $10-15 million (and possibly more) have failed to pry it from the current owner’s hands.  Those of us who were around when the Wilkison Patterns came onto the market remember this coin with special reverence.  There is no other coin like it.

Pedigree: Charles E. Barber (Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint in 1907), sold privately to the following) – Waldo C. Newcomer Collection, offered on 113/1932 to Wayte Raymond on consignment for $10,000 but ultimately returned to Newcomer – Edgar H. Adams, who received the coin on consignment and who offered it to John Work Garrett for $10,00 but was rejected; the coin was then offered to F.C.C. Boyd, who purchased it sometime after 9/11/1933 – F.C.C. Boyd’s widow, sold privately for $1,500 – Numismatic Gallery (Abe Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg), sold privately for slightly less than $10,000 – King Farouk of Egypt – Sotheby’s “Palace Collection”, 1,200 Egyptian Pounds (approximately 3,444 – Abe Kosoff, sold in 1956 for $10,000 – Dr. J.E. Wilkison, who sold his collection intact in 1973 – Paramount, traded privately – A-Mark Financial, sold privately in 1979 for $500,000 – Julian Leidman – Bowers & Ruddy 8/1981:2434, $475,000 – Paramount 7/1984:542 (as Raw Superb Gem Proof 67+), $467,500 – Hancock & Harwell, sold privately for a “mid-six figure price” – Northeast Collector

1907 $20 Ultra High Relief, J-1909 (formerly J-1778), Lettered Edge, Edge of 1907 (E*PLURIBUS*UNUM**********)

Judd 1909 is one of the earliest prototypes of Saint-Gaudens striding Liberty $20 gold pieces.  The high-relief detail is much more dimensional and impressive than anything ultimately designed for circulation.  It is so medallic in appearance and it required so many strikes from the dies to bring up the full details, that it was never a realistic option for regular coinage.  But what an impressive coin it is.  The estimated mintage of this Judd number ranges from 13 to 22, but the lower number is incorrect because we know of 17 demonstrably different examples.  The last auction appearance of any Judd 1909 happens to be of this very same example.  Though it sold for $2,760,000 in 2012, it failed to sell in its 2015 reappearance.

Pedigree: James Kelly 8/1956:1773, $9,250 – Dr. John E. Wilkison Collection, sold intact in 9/1973 – A-Mark – Paramount “Auction ‘80” 8/1980:977, $230,000 – Ed Trompeter Collection – Phillip Morse Collection – Heritage 11/2005:6522, $2,990,000 – Steve Contursi and Don Kagin (per David Stone) – Stack’s/Bowers 6/2012:4438, $2,760,000 – Stack’s/Bowers 5/2015:93, not sold


Thus ends our review of the remarkable gold Patterns from the Dr. Wilkison Collection.  Under normal circumstances, we might say that it would be impossible to accomplish such an impressive collecting feat.  However, we point out again that Mr. Simpson is challenging Dr. Wilkison and may already have surpassed him.  However, that’s a whole ‘nother blog series and for now we’ll let Dr. Wilkison rest on his laurels.

Filed Under: News

Leave a Reply