Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 48

Lot 1246

1879 $4 Gold. Flowing hair. NGC graded Proof 65 Cameo. In NGC holder 2019320-005. Only 425+ proofs struck. This is the historic Pattern issue struck in gold, a resplendent 1879 $4 Flowing Hair "Stella", Judd-1635, Pollock-1832-3, Rarity-6. The history of the four dollar gold piece, or "stella," is ingrained in the late 19th century desire to produce U.S. coinage that would be acceptable on the international market. The dual denomination $5-25 francs pattern coinage of 1868 (Judd-656 through 659) is one of the earliest attempts in this direction. It was followed by Dana Bickford's 1874 pattern eagle (Judd-1373 through 1378) and, finally in these handsome metric 1879-1880 Stellas. The Flowing Hair Liberty designed by Charles E. Barber, assistant engraver at the mint, was struck in two alloys in 1879. Twenty five coins (Pollock-1832) were produced in the metric alloy of 85.71% gold, 4.29% silver, and 10.0% copper.

The Mint delivered these to Congress as part of three-piece pattern sets. Increased demand for representations of the new denomination resulted in the production of a further 400 coins (Pollock-1833) in the standard alloy of 90.0% gold and 10.0% copper.

This may be to be one of the latter 400 coins in standard 90-10 alloy struck in 1880, as seen from the light die striations in the central portion of the obverse. The fields are nicely reflective and glossy with attractive mint frostiness on the devices. This frosted relief gives the coin its noticeable, and quite beautiful cameo contrast. The usual tiny luster grazes that accompany many Proofs of this type are nearly absent here, nor are there any errant specks of grease or orange copper "spots" -- thereby creating an impression of first-class preservation and eye-appeal! The coin is sure to be a hit with advanced bidders to the sale. Pop 14; 27 finer, 19 in 66, 6 in 67, 2 in 67 star (PCGS # 8057) .

Footnote: The historic $4 gold piece, or "Stella" as it came to be known, was proposed to solve a couple of vexing problems faced by the United States system of coinage in the 1870s. The first was to make a coin whose "intrinsic measure and value" as part of the design was sufficient to make it useful as an international trade coin. The other, as a bone tossed to the silver "Interests" as they were termed, was to strike these in an alloy that used either 4% silver or 10% silver, thereby increasing sales of this semi-precious metal by the silver mining states. For all its intended merits, the Stella project was soon abandoned. But only after 425 1879 Flowing Hair coins were minted, split into two groups as described above, 25 of which are considered "originals" and made in 1879, followed by 400 strikes from the same dies made in 1880 after Congressmen got involved in the proposal and wanted representative samples, for purely altruistic purposes.
Estimated Value $170,000 - 180,000.

Realized $195,500

Go to lot:  

Home | Current Sale | Calendar of Events | Bidding | Consign | About Us | Contact | Archives | Log In

US Coins & Currency | World & Ancient Coins | Manuscripts & Collectibles | Bonded CA Auctioneers No. 3S9543300
11400 W. Olympic Blvd, Suite 800, Los Angeles CA 90064 | 310. 551.2646 ph | 310.551.2626 fx | 800.978.2646 toll free

© 2011 Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, All Rights Reserved