Pattern Attributions & Misattributions
by Saul Teichman
September 17, 1999

The following is being written as a warning to collectors that not all pattern coins in slabs are properly attributed.

For the second time, the silverplated example of J1500 that originally sold in Stacks Bergin sale of 6/84 has been slabbed as a J1499. It is currently being offered in Superior's September 1999 sale as lot 1410. Thanks to a good description - mention of a scratch in the lower right obverse field - I recognized the coin even in its current state. The coin has also been artificially toned - something PCGS apparently missed when they graded this coin which is another cause of concern for all collectors as well.

Robert Hughes of Superior, based on my concerns, sent the coin back to PCGS for recertification where it was confirmed that this coin is in fact a J1500. I do not know if the coin is being withdrawn or sold at the sale as a J1500.

This article was written not just to warn collectors but to appeal to the certification services to, at a minimum, weigh all pattern coins before attributing them and place the weight on the slab. A simple weighing would have caught the J1500 mentioned above but, weight alone, is not enough for attributing certain patterns. This is especially true for metallurgical trial pieces such as the 1863 Postage Currency patterns or the 1864 copper/aluminum alloy cents. For more on the former, read the articles by David Cassel on this website.

The encapsulation services must be held accountable for the mistakes in attributions they make. Collectors must be diligent in seeking scientific and otherwise independent confirmation of their encapsulated coins whenever there is the slightest risk of an error in attribution.