Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 51

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Lot 1433

1879 $4 Gold. Coiled hair. NGC graded Proof 63. A Classic American Rarity that always causes excitiment when offered for sale. Only 12 known. This particular specimen shows horizontal striations on the obverse through Liberty's hair and we also note that the reverse die is slightly rotated counter clockwise by about 15 degrees. Identifiable by a small lintmark just by Liberty's hair braid which is useful for tracing the provenance. There is also a short lintmark the links the 1 in the date to the neck point above. A very rare and impressive coin for the advanced numismatist.

Reflective, Prooflike bright greenish yellow gold fields sport cameo contrast from the devices. A few minor hairlines and other minute blemishes are evident. On the reverse there is a small pit in the planchet close to the dentils and right of the final A of AMERICA, in addition to this there are three short lint marks surrounding that same letter. It is suggested that just 10 examples were struck, although a few more may have been made unofficially given the recorded population data. It has not known for certain who designed the star-reverse die for all four-dollar gold coins. Obverse: large date logotype that appears identical to the Flowing Hair Stellas. Reverse die: D in UNITED is widely doubled, the original placement above final position and most prominent on the post of that letter.

The coiled hair design was George T. Morgan's landmark design. It incorporates a bust of Liberty with her hair in braid bunched at the back of her head with a small crown inscribed LIBERTY above her forehead. The obverse inscription matched the Flowing Hair design and stands for 6 grams of gold.3 silver and .7 copper, which was the metric alloy, these being America's second metric coins after the Shield nickel or 5-gram five-cent pieces of 1866-1883. It is believed that most of these were struck using standard mint 90 percent gold and 10 percent copper. This particular specimen has appeared in several auctions over the years.

According to the Heritage sale description of this piece earlier in the decade, "In the Report of the Director of the Mint for fiscal year ended June 30, 1867, Henry R. Linderman discussed the concept, stating that problems included some countries emphasizing gold and others silver. The three principal moneys of the world were the American dollar, the British pound sterling, and the French franc. Linderman observed that it would be necessary to bring them into harmony. He foresaw that a coin of about the $5 denomination would be useful, but that it would have to be made lighter or heavier in certain countries. As an example, if the weight of the British sovereign were to be used, then the American $5 gold coin would have to be made lighter, causing a legal problem in America with regard to the fulfillment of contracts payable in gold coins of specific standard. He recalled that this ground had been covered before, and that the Mint had written to the Department of the Treasury on December 31, 1862, and that nothing new had been learned since."

"It would be important to also note that many powers were at work trying increase their sales of silver to the mints, as silver as a metal had little industrial value and was almost exclusively for coinage. Reps. Richard P. "Silver Dick" Bland, John Adam Kasson and William Darrah Kelley had high hopes of promoting a new international coin which would use some of their abundant silver. Of course, the mints would purchase their silver at artificially inflated prices. Their prodding resulted in the metric alloys proposed in these Stellas. One can only imagine the consternation at the Philadelphia Mint that now had to alloy gold with additional silver and copper, and these $4 stellas had to be prepared using alloys different from all other gold coinage of their day." Pop 3; 4 finer with 2 in 65, 2 in 66 (PCGS # 8058) .
Estimated Value $275,000 - 300,000.
Ex:Bowers and Ruddy, 5/1972: 521 $29,000; Sotheby's, 9/1982: 250 $61,600; Stack's, 10/27/1983: 57 $74,800; Bowers 8/1995: 307 $137,500; Heritage 9/1998: 7105; Heritage 1/2005 FUN.

Realized $304,750

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