Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 110

The June 2-5, 2019 Pre-Long Beach Auction

$4 Gold
Lot Photo Description Realized
Lot 1171
1879. Coiled hair. PCGS graded Proof 64 Cameo. The Coiled Hair Stella is one of the most sought after of the entire $4 gold Stella issues. While it is the general consensus that 20 coins were struck of the 1879 Coiled Hair design, only 13-15 exist today. This is one of approximately half a dozen that show Cameo contrst between the mirror fields and frosted devices. Designed by Charles T. Morgan, the Coiled Hair Stella is one of the most desirable rarities in American numismatics. While the 1879 Flowing Hair $4 Stella is obtinable for a price--its mintage of 425 or so pieces allows for far more collectors to obtain an example than this great rarity. This prized coin is amongst the true caviar of American numismatics. Both sides are lightly toned. Pedigree markers include a tiny speck touching the lower left of the second S of STATES and a pale toning speck below the star above Liberty's headband. In the past this was believed to be the King Farouk and Gaston Di Bello coin, but the plates do not match up to to second sale, the first did not include a photo of this notable rarity. Given the limited number of cions struck, sorting this out will certainly be a task that will yield fruit.

The politics behind the creation of the Stella denomination need to be examined. In the 1870s the Comstock mines in Nevada were producing millions of dollars worth of silver and this was being sold into an already saturated silver market. Furthermore, Germany was moving away from a bimetallic coinage and focusing on gold for thier monetary system. Thus Germany dumped thousands of tons of silver onto the already flooded silver market. This caused the price of silver to drop further, especially relative to gold. Naturally, the powerful mining interests of the West demanded that their representatives "do something" to stop the price collapse. One of the best uses for silver at the time was in coinage, so if more coins were produced, less silver would be floating on the market. Thus Representatives Richard P. Bland and John A. Kasson proposed that the government buy up domestic silver (thereby avoiding all the German silver also on the market), and thus directly supporting the domestic mining operations, and use $2 to $4 million per month to coin silver dollars. This became he Bland-Allison Act of 1878. A prior example of their work would be the Trade Dollar, launched in 1873, in an effort to take off more of the excess silver from the deomestic market, and have it circulate in the Orient.

Representative Kasson also proposed a new denomination that would be measured and weighted in grams, to compete side by side with the gold coins then circulating in Europe. He proposed a $4 coin made from 6 grams of gold, with 3 grams of silver and 7 grams of copper. Mint Director Henry Linderman asked Engraver Charles Barber (who's father William Barber had just passed away in August of 1879), and George T. Morgan to submit designs, so that Linderman could choose the best type, and perhaps obtain a few more patterns for his growing Pattern collection. Barber designed the Flowing Hair style, while Morgan created the Coiled Hair design, and both were struck in 1879 using a common reverse die with the five pointed central star. While close to the mark, the precise value of the $4 Stella in gold, silver and copper made it not quite right to circulate in Europe or to be traded easily for French gold roosters or English gold sovereigns. Hence the international acceptance was in peril from the original issue specifications. After striking these in limited numbers, the project was abandoned in late 1880. Only 20 struck. Pop 1; 5 finer for PRCA, 3 in 66, 2 in 66+. (PCGS # 88058) Estimate Value $700,000 - UP
Ex: Stacks/Bowers May, 2013, Lot 1294.
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