The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 2, January 14, 2007, Article 16


Last week R.V. Dewey asked about William Woodin's acquisition of a
trove of pattern coins from the U.S. Mint, said to be part of a deal
he made for returning two disputed $50 Half Union patterns purchased
earlier from the Mint.


Saul Teichman writes: "The Ford library had the most interesting note
regarding Woodin's purchase and subsequent return of the two gold Half
Union patterns - the following is the excerpt I placed on the website. One of these letters from Woodin's attorney
to U.S. Attorney Henry W. Wise on June 7, 1910 is shown below courtesy
of George Kolbe.
[The URL is  -Editor]

'Col. Snowden, who had originally purchased these coins from the
Director of the Mint in Philadelphia by depositing the bullion value
and the charge for pattern pieces to save them from being melted down,
in the course of negotiations between himself and Dr. Andrew, Director
of the Mints, came to an agreement with the latter over all matters
in dispute between them, and proposed to Mr. Woodin to repay him the
$20,000 he had paid for these pieces, in order that he might carry
out his arrangement with Dr. Andrew.

'Mr. Woodin after numerous visits to Philadelphia and Washington
and conference with Dr. Andrew, both there and in this city, decided
to accept this offer, returned the 50?s to Col. Snowden, and I
thereupon notified Mr. Pratt, as did Mr. Woodin, that the incident
was closed, and we requested a letter from your office confirming
the same. In view of the trouble and expense to which Mr. Woodin was
put to facilitate Dr. Andrew in the adjustment of a very difficult
situation, your letter seems a little unfair, in that it would tend
to create the appearance of a record some time in the future that Mr.
Woodin had been compelled to give up something of which he was
improperly in possession.'

"What this letter tells us is that Col. Snowden owned the patterns,
thus they were never a part of the Idler collection as often mentioned
in the past.  It is believed that Haseltine and Nagy brokered the deal
between Snowden and Woodin for the $20,000 purchase of the two Half
Unions.  Articles in The Numismatist as the time seem to tell us that
much.  It is likely that they received a commission of some sort for
their participation.

"The letter also notes that the coins were returned to Col. Snowden
and that he was to return them to the U.S. Mint which he did.  Today
the coins reside in the National Numismatic Collection at the
Smithsonian Institution.

"As for Woodin getting his $20,000 back, it appears that instead of
cash, he got paid by receiving other pattern coins, probably from
items still in Snowden's possession - not from items taken out of the
U.S. Mint collection, although the latter is certainly possible.  If
the Mint was involved it is NOT likely that their pieces were primary
to the settlement.  It is also likely, though not provable at this
time, that Woodin received items from the Idler collection via
Haseltine & Nagy which covered their commission amount on the sale.

"With regard to what were the coins Woodin received, the easiest way
to figure it out would be to look into the gaps which exist in the
Smithsonian's pattern collection today.  I do not remember the length
of Snowden's tenure but the Mint collection has large gaps of items
struck in the mid-1870s.  Among the items received include the 1872
Amazonian gold set, the two 1874 Bickford eagles, the two sets of
1875 sailor's head gold patterns, the two silver sets of 1876 dollar
patterns and many 1877-1896 dated pieces.

"It is likely that many of the items dated in the 1870s came from Col.
Snowden directly.  Many of the patterns dated after 1872 were extremely
rare at the time, then they became more common after this deal.  For
example, only three silver (Mint, Garrett and Vicksburg), one copper
(Woodside-Brand) and one white metal schoolgirl dollar (offered in
1895 Scott auction - purchased by Brand in 1896) were known at the
time.  Today about another twenty pieces in silver and copper are
now known.

"Woodin did appear to have plenty of duplicates and offered them via
Edgar Adams in one 1911 auction sale and three fixed price lists.
Woodin also sold his regular gold collection at this time (excluding
his Half Eagles, which went to Newcomer in the mid 1920s).  One wonders
if he needed the money to cover his legal fees in this matter.

"In any event, many of the patterns he received appear to have ended
up with the great collectors of the day such as H.O. Granberg, Waldo
Newcomer, W.W.C. Wilson and Virgil Brand to name a few.  Edgar Adams
himself still had plenty of patterns by 1935 when he sold them in a
Thomas Elder auction.  Woodin is also known to have had many of the
1883 and 1896 patterns in his possession.

"I do not know if the Newcomer inventories that sold in the Ford
library mention the source of his patterns although it is obvious
that he obtained many of Woodin's pieces.  The ANA Centennial Anthology
did have an article on Newcomer's inventory - I do not know if it
specifically mentions how much Newcomer spent on his patterns and/or
how many parcels from Woodin he received.

"I am also unaware of any specific inventory existing of the Granberg
collection - his Adams & Woodin book does exist and was described as
heavily annotated.  It is important to note that at least some of
Newcomer's patterns also originated from Granberg - the 1872 Amazonian
gold set being one of them as he apparently purchased the set from
Woodin.  The Brand journal notes purchases from Adams in 1911 including
ten 1877 half dollars in silver and one of the two known sets of 1875
Sailor's Head gold patterns to name just a few.  He also later
purchased W.W.C. Wilson's Gobrecht dollars and his 1874 gold Bickford
$10 in 1919."

[R.V. Dewey's information on Woodin?s sales to Newcomer and Granberg
came from "Abe Kosoff Remembers", p378 (a June 25, 1980 Coin World
column).  Abe lunched weekly with Fred Boyd and got a lot of this
information from him.  "Abe Kosoff Remembers" and Dave Bowers' "Abe
Kosoff: Dean of Numismatics" are filled with great tales, well worth
reading and re-reading.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

Google Web
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization 
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor 
at this address:

To subscribe go to:
Copyright © 2005 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.



Copyright © 1998 - 2005 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster