Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 41

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Lot 1551

1879 $4 Gold. Coiled hair. NGC graded Proof 63. Encapsulated in NGC holder 1560234-001. Light golden toning on both sides. Only 12 examples known. This is the much rarer George T. Morgan design with Liberty's hair coiled onto the top of her head instead of free-flowing. The few that are known, like this outstanding specimen, have a few striations through Liberty's hair causing the design to be slightly weaker in the centers. We also note faint traces of diagonal striations through the lower star. Devices are actually rather sharply struck barring the aforementioned few strands of hair. The Star's dotted outline is complete except in the area of N in CENTS. The surfaces show minor hairlines in the fields, which are to be expected. Identifiable by a squiggly lintmark just to the right of the hair bun which is in the shape of a 6 with an extended tail below the loop. Another very short lintmark joins the 1 in the date to the bust above. These, along with the NGC serial number, may be of use to research consultants in the future for tracing this historic coin's provenance as it passes down through the generations. Without a doubt, a key rarity and a treasury of historic interest for the numismatist.

According to the account published in the Judd reference book on U.S. Pattern coins, which every numismatist will surely want to own and read someday, "While Congress was considering the adoption of Jay Abel Hubbell's goloid metal and the metric system of weights and measures, the Mint produced sets of Patterns composed of a metric silver dollar, a metric goloid dollar, and the famous metric four?dollar gold piece or Stella."

Judd goes on to explain the two varieties proposed for the 1879 and 1880 $4 Stellas: "C. E. Barber made designs for a Stella in which, for the obverse, he copied the Liberty head designed by William Barber for a Pattern half eagle of 1878, No. 1574. On the reverse he placed a large five pointed star inscribed ONE STELLA 400 CENTS.

"The four?dollar gold piece was first suggested as an international coin by Hon. John A Kasson, then United States minister to Austria, who had formerly been Chairman of the Committee of Coinage, Weights and Measures. He thought it was desirable to have a gold coin approximating the value of those coins based on the metric system used in the European countries such as the Austrian 8 florins, the French 20 francs, the Italian 20 lire, the Spanish 20 pesetas, and the Dutch 8 florins.

"The committee on coinage favored the plan and suggested that a name 'suitable for the four?dollar coin would be One Stella, in analogy to one eagle, both the star and the eagle being National emblems on our coins.'"

Further along mention is made of the design of this remarkable Coiled Hair piece: "Mr. Morgan also prepared a set of obverse dies for this series. On the Stella and the goloid metric dollar, he depicted Liberty with hair tightly plaited at the back, which was a prevailing mode among young ladies in the late seventies and early eighties. Very few sets of the Morgan design were struck and they were not restruck."

That final observation by Judd is an understatement, since this Coiled Hair type is so rare that only when a major collection comes to market does one appear. We could continue for many paragraphs, but let's cut to the chase by saying that the present Stella is a "shoo-in" in any advanced gold coin collection for "museum" quality status. An exceptional specimen of one of America's foremost rarities! Pop 2; 2 in 65, 2 in 66 (PCGS # 8058) .
Estimated Value $400,000 - 450,000.

Realized $414,000

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