Transitional Pattern

 Obverse: Proof Die, Medium Level Date

Reverse: Proof Die, Perfect Die


Obverse 1                                                Reverse A


Obverse Diagnostic Point


Comments: The obverse type of 1859 (DR 1C) paired with reverse of 1860. Listed as Judd 233 and Adams-Woodin 309. The term "Transitional" has been given since our country's name, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, was moved from the obverse to the reverse between 1859 to 1860. Since this coin or pattern was struck with the With Stars obverse of 1859 and a Legend reverse of 1860, no mention of UNITED STATES OF AMERICA appears on the coin. Ahwash estimated that there are 12 surviving examples. Coin dealer Jim O'Donnell indicated that he once owned a hoard of 9 examples and estimates the surviving population to be at least 15. The PCGS population report indicates that 12 transitional patterns have been graded while NGC reports a total of 9 examples graded.

Both Breen and Kam Ahwash suggest that the 1859 Transitional dime is a "Piece De Caprice" or favor coin made to satisfy the demands of collectors through Snowden's little eccentricity of 1860 . Ahwash questions whether the pieces were struck in 1859 or in 1860 as Snowden admitted to the coining of 100 favor pieces of transitional half dimes (Judd 232) in 1860, with the 1859 dimes possibly being included. He further speculates that a still later origin might be possible, as late as 1867 or 1868 under the "chicanery-ridden establishment of Dr. Linderman".

An investigation of previous auction appearances of 1859 Transitional Patterns from catalogs in my possession produced these listing;

  1. Lot 315. NCG PF64, "Very Choice Brilliant Proof, struck on the usual lightly striated planchet. Rich russet color with neon blue around the peripheries." Previously in the 1973 Stack's Reed Hawn Collection. The Allen F. Lovejoy Reference Collection of United States Dimes 1792-1945, Stack's 55th Anniversary Sale, October 1990
  2. Lot 2104. PCGS PR64, "Partially frosted devices set against proof surfaces with dark obverse toning around the stars, a bit lighter towards Liberty. Reverse is similarly toned." Waldo E. Bolen Collection of U.S. Dimes, Numisma '95, Rarcoa Inc./David Akers, November 1995
  3. Re-sold Heritage 2001 Long Beach Signature Sale as Lot 6041 PCGS PF64, Gulf Coast Collection, "An obviously important near-Gem, the surfaces are framed in olive-russet peripheral toning with lighter, lilac tinged highlights in the centers. Razor sharp striking definition and broad rims are noted on both sides."

  4. Lot 1168. Proof-65, "Delicate lilac, gold and iridescent toning." The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, Bowers and Merena, May 1996
  5. Lot 654. PCGS PR63 holder #4042099, "It has lovely deep mirror surfaces toned at the edge in shades of pale russet to gold. The strike is needle sharp and the edges broad and square. A very few light hairlines in the obverse field are only visible under close analysis." Previously sold in Auction '90 as Very Choice Proof 64. The Gainsborough II Sale, Superior Stamp & Coin, February 1997
  6. Lot 439. NGC PF61, "Both sides of the specimen are bright white and untoned. The surfaces are brilliant as is Liberty's fiugre, while on the reverse the cereal wreath is lightly frosty." United States Coins and Paper Money, Stack's September 1998
  7. Lot 3180. PCGS PR63, "A few faint hairlines. Mirror fields and frosted devices. Choice, with sharp details." The June Pre-Long Beach Sale, Superior Stamp & Coin, June 1999
  8. Lot 2369. NGC PR67* Cameo, "top quality, great eye-appeal, no toning and certainly no detractions, a needle sharp strike. This has all the trademarks of its origin: proof finish consisting of die striation lines in the field on either side, strong devices characteristic of a coin struck at least twice by specially prepared dies." Current G. Fortin Plate Coin, Pre-Long Beach Elite Coin Auction, Superior Galleries, May 2003

Plate Coin: Former G. Fortin Collection, NGC PF67 Star Cameo

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