This article was updated July 1, 2000.
Questions about this listing should be sent to David Cassel at DavCassel@aol.com
To see book cover, click here.
For those of you who do not know me, I am a U.S. pattern coin collector and researcher
with other collecting areas of interest. U.S. pattern coins have been a passion of mine
since 1978 when I acquired my first pattern coin. For more than five years I have
devoted the majority of my U.S. pattern activity in one series of coins, U.S. Postage
Currency coins of 1863 and those related and dated coins of 1868 and 1869. The
book that I have recently completed, chronicles my last six years in the area of
these coins. My hope to publish a limited edition of 110 copies of my book was realized in June 2000. My book numbers 238 pages which includes a 37 page bibliography of 576
individually numbered auction listings of Postage Currency coins from the first auction in
1864, where four coins sold for the unheard of price of $150, less than a year after they
were struck, through the present. Many of these coins are provenanced. My numbering
system makes easy work of tracing a particular coin in either direction. There is over 100 mostly color photographs of Postage Currency coins and related items that have been enlarged.
It’s a long story, but briefly, I discovered that two of three Postage Currency coins I
bought in 1994 were misattributed. I decided I would track down as many coins in this
series as possible, to see what’s what. Over the course of the last six years, I have tested fifty-six different coins of this type. Easily one-third are misattributed. Some coins were never
reported before and some coins were reported that never existed. If I spill too
many beans, you’ll not have to buy my book.
In essence, I made some fantastic discoveries. Just to mention a few, I invite you to read
some of the news releases associated with my discoveries.
“The Numismatist” the magazine of the American Numismatic Association, March
1999, Volume 112, number 3, page 256 and also May 1999, Volume 112, number 5, page
475 discuss a coin I thought to be misattributed by NGC. This is understandable if you
saw the coin. The coin has a silvery appearance. NGC certified the coin a silver-nickel
J-331. The Judd book, “United States Pattern, Experimental and Trial Pieces” listed a
coin (J-331 silver-nickel.) I had reason to believe through the efforts of my research that
this coin was not as Judd had attributed it. I thought the possibility existed that the coin
was a cupro-nickel coin. Testing later determined this to be the case. N.G.C. reholdered
the coin as a J-331c. which was a new designation and by their definition, the correct
attribution for this coin which incidentally, contained two other bizarre minor metals, one
never encountered before in a coin, cobalt, the other iron. Each of these added
ingredients is discussed in my book in some detail. There are a few other eye opening
metal additives also that each served a purpose. I call these “secret ingredients” because
the coiners never discussed them. Their presence or absence in a base metal coin makes
a visible difference where condition is concerned. I can predict with, so far 100%,
accuracy which coins have some of these secret ingredients. You can read about them in my
Several weeks prior to the auction by Bowers and Merena of the Harry W. Bass Jr.
Collection which was held in May 1999, the good people at Bowers and Merena gave me
an advance list of the coins that were to be auctioned. This was after their catalog
printing but before the sale took place. I took note of Lot 1084 catalogued as a J-643 (silver) coin.
Through my research, I knew this coin was not possibly correctly attributed. I related these facts to
the Bowers and Merena staff, who I feel have come to somewhat rely upon my
knowledge of Postage Currency coins and I hope integrity. Shortly before the sale,
Bowers and Merena sent this coin to P.C.G.S. for a scanning electron microscopic energy
dispersive x-ray test. This is a non-destructive scientific metal analysis that is extremely
accurate. The test results alerted P.C.G.S. and Bowers and Merena that the coin was in
fact a cupro-nickel coin (J-644) as I had insisted. The catalog had already been printed
but announcements were made to the live bidders as to the new attribution for this coin.
Luckily, the successful bidder was not rewarded with a mistakenly attributed coin. The
“possibly unique” coin became one more in an extant population of four coins in total.
The news editor of “Numismatic News” and “Coin World” are aware of some of my
discoveries and have in the case of “Numismatic News”, published a news release,
March 30, 1999. I decided to contact “Coin World’s” news editor, Mr. William Gibbs
for help in locating a coin in this series which I believe is misattributed, a J-325a. (reeded
edge silver coin.) I came across this coin in the A.N.A. New York City Convention in
August of 1997. The coin was offered to me for sale. I passed on the offer. I examined
the coin that has been encapsulated since 1990. I performed some determinative tests on
the encapsulated coin and realized the coin had a reeded edge, but, more importantly, I
believed to be cupro-nickel. I wanted very badly to be able to confirm what metals were
in this coin before going to print. Obviously, I wouldn’t deny the existence of this coin in
silver with a reeded edge unless I had concrete proof. Having as many auction records of
coins, I suspected that this coin became silver by acclaim when B. Max Mehl in 1944,
The Fred Olsen Sale, declared it to be silver. The current owner of this coin, Mr. Robert
Klein, stepped forward after reading the “Coin World” quarter page story in the June 14,
1999 edition. He is aware that his “unique” coin may join four other J-330a.
cupro-nickel coins to become the fifth extant. Bravo, Mr. Klein for not fearing to seek
the truth. The coin was tested by N.G.C. for metal content. The result indicated what is commonly referred to as "cupro-nickel:" copper 73.6%, nickel 25.8%, iron 0.35%, and cobalt 0.19%.
Almost enough said, except my study will have a great impact on many more coins than
just the Postage Currency coins. I want to set the record straight. Formerly it was
impossible to know metal ingredients, second hand. Presently, it is just costly. There are
many discoveries to be made.
Included in my book is a cataloging system designed by me to easily incorporate test
results along with the Judd or Pollock any other numbering system. I refer to it as the
“Cassel Decimal Numbering System.”
I am republishing with the permission of the author, Mr. Douglas Winter, an excellent
study of these coins and the Civil War era from which these coins were necessitated.
This out of print article in three installments from “Coin World” in 1985 is the best
presentation of the most interesting facts. (See the Pollock Introduction below.)
It would be my pleasure to consult with anyone interested in Postage Currency coins at no charge.
My e-mail address is: DavCassel@aol.com I can also be reached by phone:
305-662-8960 and fax: 305-662-9400. If you have some of these coins, let’s hear from
you. If you may be interested in buying a copy of my book, please contact me.
I have been quite privileged to have Andrew Pollock III offer to write the introduction to
my book and critique my manuscript. He is the author of “United States Patterns and
Related Issues.” He is a National Treasure. His introduction follows.
FOREWORD by ANDREW W. POLLOCK III
Author of United States Patterns and Related Issues
"In the United States pattern series, there are few issues that are documented as well as the
Postage Currency pieces of 1863. Correspondence about these varieties dates back to the
time they were minted. J. R. Eckfeldt and W. E. DuBois described the advantages that
the circulation of such pieces would have if authorized by Congress.
Unlike most other United States patterns, we have mintage figures for several different
varieties and the precise dates in 1863 when they were produced. This information was
published in Chapman’s Eavenson Collection catalogue of 1903. It is supposed that the
information in the Eavenson catalogue originated with William E. DuBois’ son, Patterson
The best historical scholarship on the United States 1863 Postage Currency pattern coins
is by Douglas Winter. His work appeared in serialized format in three different issues of
Coin World in 1985. Accordingly, the article is not readily available to collectors unless
they have access to a microfilm version of “Coin World.” Fortunately for students of
United States pattern coins, Douglas Winter’s article is reprinted on the following pages.
David Cassel has advanced the research on the United States 1863 Postage Currency
patterns and those related coins dated 1868 and 1869 by performing spectral analysis
(non-destructive elemental analysis) on more than thirty different United States
Postage Currency pattern coins. In so far as these tests are very expensive, Cassel’s
commitment to the advance of numismatic knowledge is clearly demonstrated.
Cassel’s study of numismatic auction catalogues, combined with the results of the
spectral tests, has enabled him to draw important conclusions about the extant varieties
of United States 1863 Postage Currency coins and those related coins dated 1868 and
1869. Some varieties that have long been listed in the standard references Cassel
believes do not exist. Conversely, he has uncovered information on the existence of
some varieties which are unlisted elsewhere. The important content of his work is
appreciated. His writing was found to be quite smooth and easy to read.
As Scholarship in the field of United States patterns evolves, the numismatic community
will owe a debt of gratitude to David Cassel for his contribution to the subject.
ANDREW W. POLLOCK III