Maureen and Stuart Levine submitted this article about a great Longacre pattern five cent piece with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Thanks!
Watching Daniel Day-Lewis’s outstanding portrayal of our 16th president last night provided the inspiration for this week’s contribution to The E-Sylum. Abraham Lincoln’s courage and steadfastness seemed even more extraordinary as he stayed his course despite opposition from those closest to him.
Most Americans who have held Lincoln’s ubiquitous portrait in their hands since childhood would be surprised to learn that the first Lincoln coin did not progress beyond the pattern stage. A variety of medals and tokens with Lincoln’s likeness were being produced after his assassination, and to feature his image on a coin seemed appropriate. James B. Longacre was asked to provide designs for the new five cent coinage that had been proposed. His 1866 five cent design with the profile of recently assassinated President Lincoln was not adopted. Breen stated that Mint Director Pollock’s concern about a negative reception from the southern states was the reason. However, Pollock also rejected Longacre’s Washington head designs, leaving us with the shield nickel as our first five cent coin.
Eric P. Newman’s example of this excessively rare pattern is among the EPNNES coins being offered at Heritage Auction’s Platinum Night on April 25 at CSNS. The description follows:
1866 Lincoln Portrait Five Cent in Copper
Judd-487, PR64 Brown
3955 1866 Five Cents, Judd-487, Pollock-576, R.7, PR64 Brown NGC. CAC .
Design. The obverse centers around the portrait of Lincoln in profile, facing right. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA circles the bust above, with the date below. The reverse shows the denominational figure 5 above the word CENTS, encircled by a large wreath, with IN GOD WE TRUST above. Struck in copper with a plain edge.
Commentary. “The excessively rare pattern with the bust of Lincoln” is the description of this pattern on the accompanying envelope. The Lincoln portrait patterns include Judd-486, 487, and 488, with a combined NGC and PCGS population of eight, nine, and four pieces respectively. In an early auction appearance, an example of Judd-487 was paired with a specimen of Judd-486 in lot 1090 of the R.C. Davis Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 1/1890):
“1866 Five Cents: nude busts of Lincoln r. R Value in olive wreath, motto above: nickel and copper: proofs: exceedingly rare; 2pcs.”
Robert Coulton Davis wrote the first serious work on patterns, published in the Coin Collectors Journal in 1885, and the sale of his collection was a landmark event for pattern collectors. Eric P. Newman’s evaluation of these patterns as “excessively rare” echoed the New York Coin & Stamp cataloger’s assessment half a century earlier.
The U.S. Mint’s consideration of the Lincoln portrait for coinage was an extraordinary gesture of compassion, coming within a year of his assassination. This tribute culminated in Lincoln’s appearance on regular issue coinage in 1909 via Victor David Brenner’s unsurpassed depiction of Lincoln on the new cent of that year.
Physical Description. This Choice proof has satin luster with slight field reflectivity, rather than the mirrored surfaces of most proof patterns. Both sides are medium brown with hints of delicate green patina and a few scattered toning specks. The design elements are sharply detailed throughout and visual appeal is quite strong. All Lincoln patterns are rare and seldom encountered.
Provenance. “Colonel” E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman/B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $125; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
From The Eric P. Newman Collection. PCGS# 60683
To read the complete lot description, see:
1866 5C Five Cents, Judd-487, Pollock-576, R.7
Wayne Homren, Editor
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