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1879 Coiled Hair Stella Struck in Aluminum
Judd-1640, PR66 Cameo, Perhaps Five Known

1879 $4 Coiled Hair Four Dollar, Judd-1640, Pollock-1840, High R.7, PR66 Cameo NGC.
The reverse and the obverse periphery are the same as the Judd-1635 through 1637 stellas, but the center obverse features the George T. Morgan Coiled Hair design. Liberty's hair is braided, and a hair band in front reads LIBERTY. Struck in aluminum with a reeded edge.

Until the late 1880s and early 1890s when a new chemical isolation process was discovered, aluminum was considered among the most precious of metals, far rarer and much more coveted than gold. It is difficult today to find adequate words to express how elusive pure aluminum was at the time this coin was struck. We have mentioned elsewhere in this catalog the story of how when the Emperor Napoleon served an imperial dinner of elaborate scale, he reserved the aluminum tableware for the most revered guests, reserving the gold service for those of lower estate. Until the early 1880s, aluminum was sold in troy-ounce quantities, and domestic yearly production was in the range of 1,000 to 3,000 troy ounces, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Physical Description.
The purity of the aluminum provides a radiant backdrop for splendid, intense field-device contrast recognized by NGC. The fields are quicksilver and brightly mirrored, while arctic mint frost cleanly covers both the central devices and the peripheral legends. Light striations are seen through the central star on the reverse, but none appear on the obverse. Some minor planchet roughness is to be expected, due to the Mint's unfamiliarity with what amounted to, at the time, an experimental (and quite valuable) metal. NGC has certified a single piece each in PR66 Cameo (the present example) and PR67 Cameo (9/08).

There appear to be five separate specimens that we can enumerate:
1. Public Auction Sale (Lester Merkin, 9/1967), lot 407; Rio Rancho (Superior, 10/1974), lot 136; 1979 ANA Sale (New England Rare Coin Auctions, 7/1979), lot 1358; Pittsburgh Elite Coin Auction (Superior, 8/2004), lot 893, realized $89,125. Not gilt.
2. Rare Coin list #10 (Paramount, 6/1975); Dallas Bank Collection (Sotheby's/Stack's, 10/2001), lot 369. Not gilt.
3. Edward Maris Collection (H.P. Smith, 6/1886), lot 221; Garrett Collection (Stack's, 3/1976), lot 668; Harry Bass; Harry Bass Research Foundation. Not gilt.
4. Auction '80 (Rarcoa, 8/1980), lot 1946; Auction '83 (Rarcoa, 7/1983), lot 1410. Gilt.
5. CSNS (Rarcoa, 5/1971), lot 397; Winter ANA (Steve Ivy, 2/1983), lot 1791; 1988 ANA (Heritage, 7/1988), lot 2759. The present coin. Not gilt.
Other Appearances. These appearances likely represent duplications of the above coins, although tracing complete pedigrees from the early years is today impossible:
A. 1914 ANS Exhibit (Woodin), later sold to Newcomer; an example in the Virgil Brand Collection, bought as part of a complete set of stellas from Edgar H. Adams in 1911.
B. Another example in the Brand holdings, this one from a complete set purchased from F.C.C. Boyd in 1921.
C. King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 1995, purchased at the sale by James P. Randall.
D. King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 2024, also purchased by Randall.
From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two. (NGC ID# 2AHW, PCGS# 62018)

View all of [The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two ]

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Auction Dates
January, 2009
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
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