The following represents the basic set of books a collector of United States pattern coins should have in their library.
1) United States Pattern, Experimental and Trial Pieces by Dr. J. Hewitt Judd First edition 1959, Tenth edition 2008
This is the standard reference work on the subject and is the source for the "Judd" numbering system used to classify these pieces by the collecting community and the grading services. The first edition was based primarily on the researches of Walter Breen and William Guild. Later editions up to the seventh were done by Abe Kosoff.
The eighth and ninth editions were rewritten under the auspices of Whitman Publishing by Dave Bowers and Saul Teichman using new format and images. We recommend purchasing the seventh edition which is the last to contain images of Dr. Judd's collection and the tenth edition which is the first one in full color.
2) United States Patterns and Related Issues by Andrew W. Pollock III 1994
This work breaks out the various patterns into the following subject areas, “Patterns”, “Die and Hub Trials”, “Patterns Coined Outside the Mint Using Government Dies”, “Semi-Official and Private Patterns”, “Uncertain Issues” and “Formerly Misattributed Pieces” following the precedent set in the Don Taxay book listed further below. All coins in each section have been assigned (P)ollock numbers.
This is the most comprehensive work on pattern coins ever written and includes patterns from 1792 through its publication date but contains errors in classifications and is inconsistent in its assignment of Pollock numbers to die varieties. Pollock also attempted to simplify the classification of patterns with regard to composition which can be viewed as a plus or minus depending upon the individual's preferences. Regardless, it is the best single source for information about the pattern series.
It is important to note that many U. S. pattern coins listed by Judd and others contain heretofore inconclusive metal compositions and there exist many coins that do not appropriately fit into Judd's numbering classifications. Many coins have been inaccurately classified into the closest Judd number description. Beware!
3) United States Pattern, Trial and Experimental Pieces by Edgar Adams and William Woodin First Edition 1913, Third Reprint 1959
This was the standard reference guide from its first edition in 1913 until the Judd book came out in 1959. Amazingly a second reprint edition of this book also came out in 1959 at the same time as the first edition of the Judd book. This work is still important for people doing research as, for almost a half century, all pattern coins sold were listed under “AW” numbers. This work is very incomplete, missing many pattern designs, and ignored die and hub trials entirely. Still, on occasion, a coin listed in this book which Dr. Judd thought was a mistake turns up.
4) The Comprehensive Catalogue and Encyclopedia of United States Coins by Don Taxay First Edition 1971, Second Edition 1976
We recommend the second edition of 1976 edited by Joseph H. Rose and Howard Hazelcorn. This was the first book to try to categorize patterns by more than the year they were manufactured. It was far from successful however. It gave us “EP” numbers which never caught on partly due to the fact that the numbering system was only used on “true patterns”, ignoring “mules” and “regular die trial pieces” and the like. Many of its pedigree listings for both good and bad ended up in later editions of the Judd book. It also referenced the Adams and Woodin book and not the Judd book. Despite its many shortcomings, it is still a worthwhile reference to have.
The numbering systems used in the above 4 books are cross-referenced in the Pattern Concordance section of this website.
5) Coin World Comprehensive Catalogue and Encyclopedia of United States Coins edited by David Alexander 1990
This book gives us “E” numbers but is not as comprehensive as the earlier Taxay book of the same name nor has it achieved widespread use by the pattern collecting fraternity.
A new millennium edition of this book is now being offered.
The following books are recommended additional works on specific areas of the pattern series.
6) United States Gold Patterns by David Akers 1975
This work highlights, but is not limited to, the spectacular gold pattern collection of Dr. John E. Wilkison which was purchased by Paramount International Coin Corporation in the 1970s.
United States Postage Currency Coins by David Cassel April 2000, 2nd edition July 2007
This work was written by charter member #2 of this website. It is a comprehensive look at the pattern dime series of 1863, 1868 and 1869. It also highlights the importance of metallurgical analysis in the study of pattern coinage.
8) The Flying Eagle & Indian Cent Attribution Guide 2nd Edition Volume 1 1856-1858 and Volume 2 1859-1869 by Richard E. Snow
This work was written by member #99 of this website who is well known for his expertise in this area. It is a comprehensive die study of cents through the years listed including the patterns.
9) The Official Red Book of Auction Records 2001-2006 Patterns compiled by Jeff Garrett & John Dannreuther
This is useful to determine current values based on auction sales for the years described.
10) Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908 by Roger W. Burdette. This volume covers the Saint-Gaudens and Pratt gold coin designs, experimental and pattern pieces in detail. Much of the information has never before been available to collectors. The author also confirmed one suspected gold eagle pattern and identified two completely new eagle patterns, as well as identifying the lone surviving Pratt $5 pattern. Draft versions were used in developing the 1907 patterns in the 8th and 9th editions of Judd.
11) Renaissance of American Coinage 1909-1915 by Roger W. Burdette. This volume covers the Lincoln cent, Buffalo nickel and Panama-Pacific International Exposition coin designs, experimental and pattern pieces in detail. As before substantial portions of the information has never before been available to collectors. Many of sculptor Jim Fraser’s models and electrotypes made for the Buffalo nickel are illustrated and there is considerable discussion of nickel patterns and PPIE experimental pieces.
12) Renaissance of American Coinage 1916-1921 by Roger W. Burdette. This books relates the history behind the Mercury dime, Standing Liberty Quarter, Walking Liberty half dollar and Peace dollar and includes images and historical data never seen before within the collecting fraternity. Preliminary versions of this work were a driving force in the updating, reordering and subsequent renumbering of the 1916 patterns in the 8th and 9th edition of the Judd book.
13) United States Pattern and Experimental Pieces of WW II by Roger Burdette. This book describes the Mint experiments in the 1940s to remove copper, which was needed for the war effort, from the cent and nickel coinage.