The 1863 Eagle J-349 Pattern – PCGS PR64CAM is the Professional Grading Service’s (PCGS) Coin of the Month (PCGS VF25).
Pattern coins are a world unto themselves, representing concepts for coins that, in some cases, never were and in other situations later came to be. Patterns coins have been a favorite of collectors for generations, and they were formally cataloged by pattern expert Dr. J. Hewitt Judd, whose cataloging system remains the authoritative standard and is represented by a “J” (for Judd’s last initial) followed by a hyphen and a series of numbers. Such is the case for an outstanding pattern known as the 1863 eagle J-349 pattern.
This fascinating gold piece, the only known example of this pattern, was struck by George Eckfeldt on August 2, 1863, and delivered to U.S. Mint Chief Coiner Lewis R. Broomall. While the obverse of this pattern carries the regular Liberty Head design contemporary to the U.S. gold eagles, the reverse bears a special addendum in the inscription “GOD OUR TRUST” in a ribbon emblazoning the field just above the eagle. This inscription marks a transition toward using the eventual “IN GOD WE TRUST” that would later become standard on U.S. coins and serve as the United States national motto in 1956 during the Cold War.
This pattern has an illustrious pedigree tracing back to Broomall, who held the coin before it was traded into the collection of Colonel Mendes I. Cohen, whose holdings were sold by Edward Cogan in October 1875. The 1863 $10 J-349 was offered as Lot 1339 in that sale for $17, eventually stewarded in the Heman Ely Collection and then making its way into the prestigious cabinets of W. Elliot Woodward, T. Harrison Garrett, Robert Garrett, and John Work Garrett.
The fabulous Garrett Collection, one of the finest and most iconic cabinets ever assembled, was donated to John Hopkins University. The Garrett coins were eventually dispersed over a series of sales spanning 1979 through 1981, with the 1863 $10 J-349 being sold in March 1980 as Lot 1088 for $57,500. The coin nearly tripled that amount eight years later when it crossed the block as Lot 4286 of the Superior January 1988 offering of the A. Bernard Shore Collection and took $150,000. The coin meandered through private transactions into the famous numismatist Bob R. Simpson's collection. The coin, graded by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) as Proof-64 Cameo, is valued at approximately $1,250,000. It’s expected that the next time this unique pattern trades hands it could top all price expectations to become one of the most valuable classic gold prototypes ever sold.
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