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1879 Twenty Dollar Metric-Quintuple Stella, Judd-1644, Pollock-1844, Low R.7, PR62 Gilt NGC.. ...

2011 January Tampa FUN Signature & Platinum Night US Coin Auction #1151

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Auction Ended On: Jan 6, 2011
Item Activity: 9 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Tampa Convention Center
333 S. Franklin St.
Tampa, FL 33602

Gilt 1879 Quintuple Stella-Double Eagle
, Low R.7, PR62
Finest Gilt Example Certified

An Illustrious Pattern Issue
1879 Twenty Dollar Metric-Quintuple Stella, Judd-1644, Pollock-1844, Low R.7, PR62 Gilt NGC.

Design. The Liberty Head portrait by designer James B. Longacre, as introduced commercially in 1850 on the gold double eagle, dominates the center obverse. However, ringing the obverse rim, as opposed to the normal 13 stars, is the same legend as on the 1879 stella--but with all of the metric values multiplied fivefold. The stars again provide punctuation--30G1.5S3.5C35GRAMS. (Note the irregular spacing as the legend was applied by hand--1.5 is widely spaced, 3.5 is smashed together.) The date 1879 is below the bust. The reverse resembles the regular Type Three double eagle design of 1876 and after, with TWENTY DOLLARS spelled out, except that DEO EST GLORIA replaces IN GOD WE TRUST under the glory of rays. Struck in copper, gilt, with a reeded edge.

Commentary. The Judd-1644 quintuple stella is among the most illustrious of all pattern issues, a blend of the James B. Longacre Liberty Head design in the center with the obverse peripheral legend from the 1879-1880 stella patterns--except, well, quintupled. The design was also struck in gold (Judd-1643), of which five pieces are known.

No design of the era more clearly reflects the desire on the part of certain individuals and groups to modify U.S. coinage to an internationally agreeable, convenient format based on metric measures. Note that, just as on the 1879-1880 stellas, the weight is an even number of metric grams, with the metal ratio advertised as six-sevenths gold, with the seventh part a 30:70 alloy of silver to copper.

A unique copper variant of the quintuple stella, Judd-1642, is actually the first struck, with a typographical error on the obverse: It lacks the period in 3.5 C, thus reading 35 C (with intervening stars). The error was noticed, the die corrected, then the remaining coins were struck in gold and copper. estimates that perhaps a dozen survive of the copper specimens. We believe that estimate is on the high side and that seven to nine specimens survive, perhaps four of them gilt. Two gilt pieces are off the market permanently--one in the Smithsonian, one in the collection of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Research Foundation.

Physical Description. Beautiful orange-gold color prevails over both sides of this gilt specimen, with an accent of mint-green at the lower obverse, around the date. and the strike is full throughout. A tiny, curving lintmark just beneath the 1 in 1.5 provides a pedigree marker, along with a dotlike indent in the right obverse field, halfway between M and the hair . There are no singular contact marks on either side of this highly attractive coin--by far the finest gilt example we have ever been privileged to offer at Heritage, and likely the finest available anywhere.

Significant Heritage Offerings
--PR64 Red and Brown PCGS. Jones Beach Collection (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 1595, realized $80,500.
--PR65 Red and Brown PCGS. Harold Hoogasian Collection (Heritage, 1/2003), lot 9943, realized $46,000.
--PR60 Gilt Uncertified. Ex: Empire Coin Company (10/1963); Heritage (7/2002), lot 8957, realized $10,695.

NGC Census: 1 PR65 Red and Brown, 1 PR61 Gilt, 1 PR62 Gilt.
PCGS Population: 1 PR63 Red and Brown, 1 PR64 Red and Brown, 1 PR65 Red and Brown (11/10). (PCGS# 62023)

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