More different designs were made this year than any other.
William Barber's sailors head design as used on the 1876 trade dollars was used again on dime, quarter, half dollar and dollar designs. We show the dime below. J1498/P1651
Mint director Henry Linderman owned a set of these along with other patterns of this date.
This year is better known however for 2 major undertakings. The first is the many half dollar patterns. George Morgan created 4 obverses and 6 reverses, 2 of which are shown below.
His first obverse design dating to February 1877 is shown below. J1512/P1676
This design was Morgan's last and was made in August or September. It became the precursor to the silver dollar of the following year. J1509/P1663
William Barber created 5 obverse and 4 reverse designs two of which are shown below. The first was based on a drawing by Christian Gobrecht made some 30 years earlier. J1530/P1698
The second may have been made to compete with Morgan's Liberty cap designs. J1539A/P1707
Anthony Paquet created only a single design J1540/P1711
Morgan also created an eagle pattern J1545/P1718 which would be made again next year.
The other major design of this year is the famous $50 or half union designs. Designed by William Barber, the gold piece, each unique, were believed destroyed until they were purchased by William Woodin for $10,000 each. Supposedly, this caused and uproar which resulted in their return to the mint collection in exchange for "several trunkloads of patterns". For additional information on this, click on one of the links below.
They are now on display in the Smithsonian and are obviously considered, along with the 1849 double eagle, to be the highlights of the collection and probably the most valuable coins in the world.
Photos courtesy of Heritage, Bowers and Merena, Saul Teichman, David Akers and the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian Institution.
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