Elusive 1879 Coiled Hair Stella Four Dollar Gold1879 $4 Coiled Hair, Judd-1638, Pollock-1838, PR63 NGC. R.6. The Morgan design. Reeded Edge. This particular specimen shows horizontal striations on the obverse through Liberty's hair and we also note that the reverse die is slightly rotated counter clockwise by about 15 degrees. The surfaces show minor hairlines in the fields. Identifiable by a curly lintmark just behind Liberty's head at the base of her braid which is in the shape of a 6 with a long tail below the loop. There is also a very short lintmark which connects the 1 in the date to the truncation above and to the right of that digit. A very rare and important coin for the specialist. NGC has graded three coins this high with an additional five pieces seen in finer grades.
Reflective, prooflike bright greenish yellow gold surfaces with cameo contrast. A few minor hairlines and other minute blemishes are noted. On the reverse we note a small pit in the planchet close to the dentils and right of the final A of AMERICA, in addition to this there are three short lint marks surrounding that same letter. Supposedly just 10 examples were minted, although a few more were likely struck given the numbers recorded in the population data. It has not been determined who designed the common reverse die for all four-dollar gold coins. Obverse: large date logotype that appears to be the same as on the Flowing Hair Stellas. Reverse die: D in UNITED is widely doubled, the original placement above final position and most prominent on the post of that letter.
The coiled hair design was created by George T. Morgan and employed a bust of Liberty with her hair tied up in braid around her head with a small crown inscribed LIBERTY. The obverse inscription matched the Flowing Hair design and stands for 6 grams of gold, .3 silver and .7 copper, which was the metric alloy. It is believed that most of these were struck using the standard mint 90 percent gold and 10 percent copper. This particular coin is believed to have appeared in several auctions over the years, and a more complete discussion of the various known specimens is included on the 1879 PR67 Cameo Coiled Hair also in the sale.
In the Report of the Director of the Mint for fiscal year ended June 30, 1867, Henry R. Linderman discussed the concept, stating that problems included some countries emphasizing gold and others silver. The three principal moneys of the world were the American dollar, the British pound sterling, and the French franc. Linderman observed that it would be necessary to bring them into harmony. He foresaw that a coin of about the $5 denomination would be useful, but that it would have to be made lighter or heavier in certain countries. As an example, if the weight of the British sovereign were to be used, then the American $5 gold coin would have to be made lighter, causing a legal problem in America with regard to the fulfillment of contracts payable in gold coins of specific standard. He recalled that this ground had been covered before, and that the Mint had written to the Department of the Treasury on December 31, 1862, and that nothing new had been learned since.
It would be important to also note that many powers were at work trying increase their sales of silver to the mints, as silver as a metal had little industrial value and was almost exclusively for coinage. Reps. Richard P. "Silver Dick" Bland, John Adam Kasson and William Darrah Kelley had high hopes of promoting a new international coin which would use some of their abundant silver. Of course, the mints would purchase their silver at artificially inflated prices. Their prodding resulted in the metric alloys proposed in these Stellas. One can only imagine the consternation at the Philadelphia Mint that now had to alloy gold with additional silver and copper, and these $4 stellas had to be prepared using alloys different from all other gold coinage of their day.
Ex:Bowers and Ruddy, 5/1972: 521 $29,000; Sotheby's, 9/1982: 250 $61,600; Stack's, 10/27/1983: 57 $74,800; Bowers and Merena 8/1995: 307 $137,500; Heritage 9/1998: 7105.
From The Gold Rush Collection.(#8058)(Registry values: P3) (NGC ID# 28AZ, PCGS# 8058)
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