The unique 1877 half union with large head design struck in gold. It is ex Snowden, Haseltine, Nagy, Woodin.
It was given back to the Mint Collection along with the other gold design J1548/P1721 circa 1910. The circumstances of this return have been shrouded in mystery but several letters in the John J. Ford library establish that Col Snowden was, in fact, the original owner of the 2 pieces.
One of these letters from Woodin's attorney to U.S. Attorney Henry W. Wise on June 7, 1910 is shown below courtesy of George Kolbe.
"Col. Snowden, who had originally purchased these coins from the Director of the Mint in Philadelphia by depositing the bullion value and the charge for pattern pieces to save them from being melted down, in the course of negotiations between himself and Dr. Andrew, Director of the Mints, came to an agreement with the latter over all matters in dispute between them, and proposed to Mr. Woodin to repay him the $20,000 he had paid for these pieces, in order that he might carry out his arrangement with Dr. Andrew. Mr. Woodin after numerous visits to Philadelphia and Washington and conference with Dr. Andrew, both there and in this city, decided to accept this offer, returned the 50ís to Col. Snowden, and I thereupon notified Mr. Pratt, as did Mr. Woodin, that the incident was closed, and we requested a letter from your office confirming the same. In view of the trouble and expense to which Mr. Woodin was put to facilitate Dr. Andrew in the adjustment of a very difficult situation, your letter seems a little unfair, in that it would tend to create the appearance of a record some time in the future that Mr. Woodin had been compelled to give up something of which he was improperly in possession."
Additional information can be found in the May 17 and 24, 2004 editions of Coin World by William Gibbs.
It appears that Col Snowden either gave them back to the Mint or the Mint confiscated them from him after the deal mentioned above was completed.
In copper J1547/P1720 there are fewer than a dozen known including examples in the Smithsonian, Connecticut State Library, Durham Museum and the Harry W. Bass Jr. Research Foundation.
Incomplete obverse and reverse hub trials of this design are also known.
Photo courtesy of David Akers and the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian Institution.