Click to enlargeJ110/P123

Supposedly Robert Ball Hughes' rendition of Gobrecht's Liberty seated design with drapery on a half dollar sized brass planchet of 66.1% copper, 33% zinc, and 0.58% lead with a plain edge according to the Heritage 4/21 sale.

According to the Judd book, R.M. Patterson asked Hughes to prepare a plaster medallion of the seated Liberty to used as the basis for a new hub. Apparently, they were not satisfied with the look of Gobrecht's design with its small head and larger body.

This rather crude piece which has Liberty's hair bound in a ribbon, reverse mottos on raised bands and prominent center holes on both sides appears to have been a hastily made prototype. The outside of this piece shows circular lathe lines around both sides of the design suggesting the possibility that this quarter trial was reduced from actually half dollar sized or else is some kind of mechanical reduction. We would like to examine the piece's edge to determine if it is, in fact, die struck.

It is unknown whether it was Gobrecht or Hughes who created the final working with drapery design which was used on all denominations except the half dollar from 1840 until the design ended in 1891. Most modern researchers believe it was Hughes on the belief that Gobrecht's skills were declining due to his age - he died in 1844. The only item which refutes this belief is the 1840 dollar hub trial with Gobrecht's name above the date JA1840-4 which is in the Library Company of Philadelphia. If Gobrecht truly made this, then Hughes should not be credited with creating the with drapery design.

It is important to note that while Judd listed this under 1840, Adams & Woodin list the piece under 1858 which would put it around the time of the Barclay experiments. Regrettably, there is no writeup on the piece in the Adams & Woodin pattern book. For more on the possible Brclay connection, we recommend Roger Burdette's book "Fads, Fakes & Foibles".

As for the die trial, it is unique with partially confused pedigrees. The unquestioned portion of the pedigree is Mickley, Colonel Cohen, Parmelee, Woodside, Woodin-1914 ANS exhibit, Farouk, Bowers 1955 FPL, Judd, Pine Tree 9/74, Heritage 2007 ANA, Stacks-Bowers 2011 ANA, Heritage 4/12, Heritage 4/21 - NGC64.

The piece does not appear in the Newcomer appraisal, nor does it appear in the Brand journal.

Photo courtesy of Heritage.