Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 48

Pre-Long Beach Coin Auction

$4 Gold Stella
Lot Photo Description Realized
Lot 1437
1879 $4 Gold. Flowing hair. PCGS graded Proof 62. In PCGS holder 05865241. A sparkling Proof of the optimum quality for this actively collected design with nicely reflective fields supporting the raised, frosted device. Gleaming luster blends effortlessly with pale golden highlights on these satin devices. Noted are some light roller lines through the portrait and star as on most of the issue. Sharp throughout; free of spots. Just a glance at the present coin will serve to underscore the reason bidders will eagerly vie for it.

The four dollar gold piece, or "Stella," (it's official name per the enabling legislation) is one of the most prestigious and sought-after of all United States gold rarities. The derivation of the term Stella is one that, while often recapped in numismatic circles, is not completely understood by many. When gold coins were first struck in the Mint in 1795, they were based on a unit of value called the 'eagle.' The eagle, equal in value to ten dollars, had a factual design of an eagle on one side. If the eagle is worth ten dollars, it would follow that a half eagle would be worth half that amount, a quarter eagle two and a half dollars, and so on.

The four dollar gold piece, when it was proposed in 1879-80 (the new denomination was the brainchild of John Kasson as an international metric coin), was meant to be a new base unit for gold coins. The planners decided on the name of Stella. Similar to the eagle and other gold coins based on the ten dollar gold standard, the statutory "Stella" has a star on the reverse, since 'Stella' means star in Latin. Charles Barber engraved the dies for the Flowing Hair Stella in 1879, although he modified a design earlier done by his father, William Barber, from the previous year (the father had died in August of 1879). Pop 26. (PCGS # 8057) .
Estimated Value $120,000 - 130,000.
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