One of the Presentation coins from the 1863 set presented to Salmon P. Chase. Photo courtesy of David Cassel.
Postage Currency patterns are as a group one of the most misunderstood of all pattern series. Research by David Cassel has found that many of the descriptions by weight, edge characteristics, and alloys listed in Judd and Pollock are inaccurate to say the least. We recommend that you refer to the 'Pattern Concordance' on this website for this year to see all the alloys which have been found by David Cassel. They are listed in the Concordance using David Cassel's decimal numbering system.
David Cassel's book on Postage Currency Patterns is now available. For more on this, click here.
Examples were struck as follows:
Silver with reeded edge J325A/P391. Apparently this does not exist. Analysis proved the only reported piece to be a J330A/P401.
Silver with plain edge J325/P390. 45 pieces were struck on May 20, 1863. They exist in 3 weight classes, 20 grains, 22 grains and 38 grains, the latter apparently on standard dime planchets and with medal alignment.
Silver-Aluminum alloy P392. (75% silver, 25% aluminum) Probably does not exist. Taxay reported this composition for a piece at the Smithsonian, but it has not been tested. David Cassel reports another piece, also not tested, and believes that both coins are unlikely to be as described.
Billon with reeded edge P393. Probably does not exist.
Billon with plain edge J326A/P394. 27 pieces were struck on May 27, 1863. 24-25 grains. Silver content ranges from roughly 10%-40%.
Copper (pure) with reeded edge J326/P395 with 5 examples confirmed as follows:
1) Reed-Durham Museum
3) Bass-Heritage 8/14 - NGC64RB
4) Cassel-Heritage 8/15 - NGC65RB
5) Heritage 4/18 as NGC65BN, LegendAuctions 11/18 - PCGS65BN
These weigh 35-36 grains.
Copper (pure) with plain edge J326B/P396. 3 have been slabbed by PCGS. The example ex Heritage 7/04, Superior 1/05 has been confirmed by David Cassel and weighs 19.7 grains. The second, Heritage 1/12 and 4/12 which is now NGC65RB, has been tested and proved to be billon, not copper. The third, PCGS65BN, has not been tested. The 3 examples listed in Pollock were all tested and found to be billon not copper. This issue is now considered to be at least R-8.
Aluminum with plain edge J327/P397. 16 pieces were struck on May 20, 1863 and 15 pieces were struck on May 27, 1863. All pieces confirmed by David Cassel are on thin (8 grain) planchets, although thick (11 grain) planchet specimens have long been thought to exist. (J327 and J328 typically contain, very roughly, 1% silicon and 1% iron. These are believed to be impurities in the aluminum, not intentional additions.)
Aluminum with reeded edge J328/P398. All confirmed specimens are on 11 grain planchets, alloyed with small amounts of silver. Fewer than half a dozen are known, and most show some corrosion. (J327 and J328 typically contain, very roughly, 1% silicon and 1% iron. These are believed to be impurities in the aluminum, not intentional additions.)
Block Tin with reeded edge P400. Probably does not exist.
Block Tin with plain edge J329/P399. 39 were struck in block (impure) tin on May 20, 1863, in the weights of 21 and 27 grains.
Block Tin Alloy with plain edge J330/P399. 15 pieces were reported struck on May 27, 1863, supposedly in 97% block (impure) tin, alloyed with 3% copper. No tested pieces have matched this composition. However, any piece that is predominantly tin, contains more than 1% in elements that might have been used to harden the planchet, e.g., copper or iron, and which does not closely conform to the 21 or 27 grain weight of J329, should tentatively be classified as J330. More research is needed.
Nickel (75% Copper, 25% Nickel) with reeded edge J330A/P401. Only 4 or 5 are known per David Cassel.