Known Prototypes

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There are several prototype Liberty Dollars that have found their way into the hands of collectors over the years.  I'm sure that there are some that I do not know about, but the ones I do are described on this page.  I believe the one ounce silver Liberty Euro belongs on this page too, because it was never offered to anyone except two individuals who were very close to the later efforts of BVNH (Bernard Von NotHaus), and they bought all that were available.  I am, however, going to leave it on the $20 base page as #60.

The first prototype to come to my attention was the Dateless 1/10th ounce silver piece that I got in a small collection I bought from another individual who was held in special esteem by BVNH.  The piece was given to him by Bernard as a thank you for his support of Liberty Dollar.  I had no idea it existed until I went through the pieces I received in the collection in late 2010.  Bernard himself confirmed for me that this piece was indeed produced by Liberty Dollar and that it is not unique, but exists in VERY limited quantities (i.e., less than  ten).  I know of only one person who has one besides me.  It is the same nominal diameter (22mm) and thickness (1.05mm vs. 1.25mm) as the $50 base, 1/10th ounce $5 piece, but both dies are different.  This piece has a torch back instead of the 'naked' back of the production piece, and it has the old USA obverse instead of the dated obverse that was used beginning 2007.  That suggests that it was minted prior to 2007.  This photo shows the obverse and reverse of the piece compared to the obverse and reverse of the 1/10th oz production piece.  This piece is much rarer than the Liberty Dollar Euro, which had a production of only 100 pieces and has been offered for sale on ebay numerous times.  I will post a better photo as soon as I have time.

The next prototype to come to my attention was the one ounce Freedom Naked back.  Prototypes were struck in both silver and bronze.  The quality of these samples is very superior to the quality of the FREEDOM torch back (#67), which was the last one ounce silver piece to be distributed by Liberty Dollar, and every bit as good as the 2008 $20 naked back (#57).  To the best of my knowledge, only three sets of this silver/bronze prototype have made it into the hands of collectors.  Word from a reliable source is that only five of each were struck.  I have one each of these pieces.  Feel free to make me an offer.  If you want them badly enough (i.e., offer an outrageously high amount), I just might sell them.  That goes for the dateless 1/10 oz above and the copper mule below as well.

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The third prototype piece I learned about was the one ounce copper 'mule' discovered by Jeff Kotchounian.  Here is the original entry that I used to have on the page with the production coppers.

Newly found Liberty Dollar Copper prototype!
(June 2011)

This piece was located by Jeff Kotchounian at a mint that was being considered for production of the Liberty Dollar one ounce copper pieces in 2009.  An obverse die was sent to the mint so that they could do some trial strikes that would demonstrate the quality of their product.  The mint used a generic one ounce heraldic eagle die for the reverse.  I purchased three of the less than 30 existing pieces from Jeff (not for sale unless you offer me an ungodly amount).  The quality is astounding compared to all of the other Liberty Dollar copper specimens.  Unfortunately, the cost of this quality was too high and the pieces would have cost more than their intended one dollar face value, so production runs of pieces using the correct reverse die were never made in copper.  In June of 2011 Jeff was able to acquire the specimens that the mint had not sent to Bernard von NotHaus and has sold them to premier collectors.  The photos below were sent to me by Jeff.  This piece is commonly known as the Copper Mule.  Mule is the term mint personnel use to describe a piece that has been made by throwing together obverse an reverse dies that are not meant to be used together.
(highest known sale price so far is $850 by Dave G. on 5/14/2012)

2009 Copper Liberty/Eagle Pattern Strike w/ reeded edge (Type I) (Photo by Jeff Kotchounian)

Copper pattern addendum (8/20/2014)
Below are photos I took of the Liberty/Eagle pattern strike (photo above was by Jeff Kotchounian) on 8/20/2014.  You can clearly tell even from the face on camera angle that the piece has a reeded edge (at least from the obverse side).  Below that is a photo of what I thought was the same piece when I first received it a few days before, but then I noticed it did not have a reeded edge.  Suspecting a counterfeit, I scrutinized both pieces with a jeweler's visor.  I am no expert, but the pieces look identical to me except for the edges.  Every minute bump is duplicated precisely.  I am convinced it was made from the same dies.  It almost certainly was not run at the same time as the original three reeded pieces I got from Jeff.  It makes no sense (to me at least) for a mint running a small amount of die test pattern pieces to do two runs, on with the reeded edge band and one without.  I have no idea how this came about, but as near as I can tell, the dies are genuine or at least made from the same die pattern.

2009 Copper Liberty/Eagle Pattern Strike w/ reeded edge (Type I) (Photo by Ron Goodger)

2009 Copper Liberty/Eagle Pattern Strike w/ smooth edge (Type II) (Photo by Ron Goodger)

Type I & Type II side by side

The last prototype Liberty Dollar that I have knowledge of is the $50 Torch Back.  The only one ounce $50 base silver pieces released to production were the naked back (#58) and the tenth anniversary (#59).  This prototype piece, however, was never produced in quantities.  As a matter of fact, I have been informed by someone who should know that only two pieces exist (unfortunately I don't have one) other than the ones seized in the raid by the FBI.  However many that was, it can't be much.

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