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Scarce and Popular 1879 Flowing Hair Stella

1879 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1635, Pollock-1833, R.3, PR 63 PCGS. The federal government originally intended the four dollar gold piece, or "stella," to serve as an international monetary unit. One can see the evidence plainly of this on the obverse of the present example, where the inscription *6*G*.3*S*.7*C*7*G*R*A*M*S* encircles the periphery. Congressman Alexander H. Stephen, chairman of the Committee of Coinage, Weights, and Measures in the late 1870s, felt that such a vivid description of the stella's intrinsic value would make the denomination readily acceptable as a circulating medium around the world. Accordingly, the Philadelphia Mint produced 25 patterns in late 1879 using the Flowing Hair design of Charles E. Barber. These pieces proved so popular in government circles that the Mint produced another 400 1879-dated specimens in early 1880. Whereas the initial 25 coins were produced on metric alloy gold planchets (85.71% gold, 4.20% silver, 10.00% copper), the 400 additional pieces were impressed on standard alloy gold planchets (90.00% gold, 10.00% copper). These two deliveries constitute the largest number of four dollar patterns produced before the government abandoned the project in the early 1880s.
Since the 1879 Flowing Hair stellas that were struck on standard alloy planchets are more available than their metric alloy counterparts, we assume that this particular coin is an example of the former variety (Pollock-1833; Judd did not distinguish between the standard and metric alloy strikings, both of which are known as Judd-1635). Wonderfully original, the surfaces are also free of sizeable and/or unduly distracting hairlines. Blushes of copper iridescence around the upper and lower rims on both sides interrupt the otherwise yellow-gold coloration. The devices are sharply defined and the centers are free of the often-seen adjustment marks. This coin is accompanied by ANACS Certificate of Authenticity # TDH436. This document was issued to the Real Bankers Corp., and the stated ANACS grade is simply "Uncirculated." (NGC ID# 28AZ, PCGS# 8057)

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Auction Dates
August, 2000
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
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