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Gilt Copper 1879 Flowing Hair Stella, PR64, Judd-1636

1879 $4 Flowing Hair Four Dollar, Judd-1636 Gilt, Pollock-1834, Low R.7, PR64 NGC. Charles Barber's Flowing Hair design. Struck in copper with a reeded edge. Gold-plated or gilt, possibly at the Mint before it was distributed. Although more than a dozen copper impressions of this design are known, only three or four of those are gilt like this one. Both sides are bright greenish-yellow with fully reflective fields and a hint of cameo contrast. The mirrored proof appearance suggests that the gold plating may have been applied to the copper flan before the coin was struck.
All of the physical characteristics of this piece suggest that it was gilded at the Mint, although this cannot be proven, to the best of our knowledge. It is clearly known that some patterns were gold-plated after they left the Mint, but it is also believed that pieces were intentionally made this way. Pattern issues that were gilded within the Mint should clearly be considered separate, collectible varieties, given distinct "Judd numbers."
Off-metal pattern stellas were coined in aluminum, copper, and white metal. Most examples were produced in copper, and a few were gilded. Distinguishing between gilt and gold examples is a matter of checking the weight, but can also be a simple visual process. So far as we know, all gold Stellas have striated surfaces from the rolling mill or drawing bench that adjusted planchet strip to the proper thickness. The copper-gilt pieces do not show any of the striations found on the gold examples, as this specimen illustrates.
From The Madison Collection. (NGC ID# 2WMJ, PCGS# 82015)

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Auction Dates
January, 2008
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 13
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