J398 1864 Pattern Seated Dollar - J-398 1864 Seated $1 Pattern NGC PF66, R.7+. This extremely rare Civil War dated Premium Gem proof 1864 Seated Dollar Pattern is the finest known at NGC. This 1864 Seated Dollar Pattern coin was struck in aluminum and has a cameo-like appearance. Its devices show subdued mint luster and are toned light russet-grey set against steel-grey fields. The surfaces of this 1864 Seated Dollar Pattern are original and clean. Only a few hairlines are visible without magnification.
This transitional pattern was produced at the Mint at a later date. The obverse shows the regular Liberty Seated motif for the year. Designed by Christian Gobrecht, the obverse uses the seated goddess motif seen on many classic British coins as well as those of ancient Rome. Chief Engraver William Kneass made the first sketch of the Liberty seated concept shortly before he suffered a debilitating stroke. Titian Peale, one of America’s earliest and foremost painters and naturalist illustrators and Thomas Sully, another contemporary artist, made revisions of Kneass’ work for Gobrecht to use.
Liberty is seen looking over her shoulder to the left as she sits on a rock. In one hand she holds a pole with a Phrygian cap upon it. With the other she balances the LIBERTY inscribed Union shield. Thirteen stars are above, interrupted by her head and the cap, and the date is below. The reverse shows the heraldic eagle looking left. In its talons are the olive branch and arrows, symbols of peace and preparedness. At the top is the required inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The denomination written as ONE DOL. is below. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST is added in a ribbon above the eagle. It is the design that was adopted in 1866.
Both before and during the Civil War almost a dozen Protestant denominations pressured Congress to add references to God to the Constitution and other government documents. Reverend Mark Richards Watkinson was the first to write to Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase to request that God’s name be added to our coinage. His suggestion for a motto was “God, Liberty, Law.” Chase ordered Mint Director James Pollock to prepare a suitable motto. Pollock’s suggestions included “Our Trust Is In God,” “Our God And Our Country,” and “God Our Trust.” Then Chase decided on “In God We Trust” to be added to most of the nation’s coinage. This motto was a subtle reminder that the North considered itself on the side of God with regard to the issue of slavery. A new law was required to allow the motto to be added since previous acts of Congress specified the mottos and devices that were permitted on coins. The new motto was placed on all coins that were deemed large enough to accommodate it.
Christian Gobrecht became the third Chief Engraver at the United States Mint. He was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania in 1785. His father was a German immigrant, and his mother traced her ancestry to the early settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Gobrecht married Mary Hewes in 1818. One of his early positions was as an engraver of clocks in Baltimore. Later he went to Philadelphia where he became a banknote engraver. He invented a machine that allowed one to convert a three-dimensional medal into an illustration. This was an excellent job and Gobrecht was understandably reluctant to work for the Mint for less money than he was making at the engraving firm.
In order to persuade him to leave, Mint Director Robert Patterson prevailed upon Chief Engraver William Kneass, who had had a stroke, to take less in salary so more money would be available to hire Gobrecht on a permanent basis. In 1826 Gobrecht did his first work for the Mint as an assistant to Kneass. After Kneass’ stroke, Gobrecht did all the die and pattern work for the Mint. He became Chief Engraver in 1840 and served until his death in 1844. He was famous for his Liberty Seated motif which was used for all denominations of sliver coinage including the half-dime, dime, quarter dollar, half dollar and sliver dollar. He also designed the Liberty Head gold eagle, a motif that was also used on the half-cent, the cent, the gold quarter eagle, and the gold half eagle.
The J-398 has a rarity rating of R.7+, which indicates that four to six pieces are known. In its population report, NGC shows 1 in PF66 with 0 better. At PCGS there are 0 in PF66 and 2 in PF67.
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