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Superb Gem Cameo Proof 1879 Coiled Hair Stella

1879 $4 Coiled Hair, Judd-1638, Pollock-1838, R.6. PR67 Cameo NGC. The Morgan Design. Reeded Edge. One of the very finest known of this ever popular and elusive issue. The surfaces are very bright and reflective in the fields, while the devices are thick with frost. For the collector, the quality of the coin is always a paramount issue, and this particular specimen is simply stunning for the quality and for the excellent contrast. Examination with a 10X loupe finds little evidence of handling, and anything noted is extremely faint. There is a very thin broken scratch hidden in Liberty's hair behind her temple which runs horizontal to the right and ends above Liberty's ear. Another extremely faint line extends down the back of Liberty's head right of her ear and can only be seen at certain angles and with a strong loupe and light. The fields and balance of the obverse are essentially the quality as the day they were coined. We note a minute planchet flake in the field between the serif of the G and Liberty's mouth, and a very short lint mark in the field between her bun and the A close to the rim. Morgan might have hand cut the letters of LIBERTY in the crown, as they are awkward in appearance and we suspect no die punches would be available that would both decrease in size in a uniform fashion as well as shrink toward the right side on each letter, fitting the angular shape of Liberty's crown. This particular coin shows this feature clearly as the coin has a sharp strike and none of the striation lines seen on the other specimen in this sale from this same die pairing. Numerous minor repunchings are seen on the obverse inscription, notably the central serif of the 3, the first S, the serif of both 7s, the A and stars eleven and twelve. The reverse shows the post of the D well above the final placement, and this repunched feature is present on all Stellas, as they were struck with the same reverse die. One very short lint mark is found on the reverse, which hangs down from the O in GLORIA down to the lower right. The star dentils are sharp on this particular coin, including those on the lower arms, an area which is often found poorly struck on these coins. The combined NGC and PCGS population reports show a total of five coins graded this high, although the one PCGS coin is not a Cameo. The other four NGC coins (including the present coin) are all Cameo examples. No Ultra Cameo coins have been graded by NGC and no Deep Cameo coins have been graded by PCGS of this issue. One can only conclude that the present specimen is tied for the finest seen with three other coins of this enormously popular issue.
The following is the census of this issue by Mark Borckardt.
1.Garrett Specimen. Choice Brilliant Proof. Ex: Bangs & Co., 1/6/1882; John Work Garrett; John Hopkins University; Bowers and Ruddy 11/1979: 431 $115,000; Auction '80: 385 $175,000; Superior, 5/1987: 2444 $165,000.
Identifiable by: The obverse has a spot above the 8 and others inside the loops of this digit. Other spots are in front of the neck and between star 1 and the dentils. There is also a toning spot in the hair below Y of LIBERTY. The reverse has a spot inside the dentils between F and A. There is a spot on the top right serif of the second L in STELLA.
2. Neil Specimen. Gem Brilliant Proof. B. Max Mehl, 6/1947: 2603 sold as part of a set for $3,850; Grant Pierce; Stack's, 8/1976: 2920 sold as part of a set for $225,000.
Identified by a spot midway between the 9 and the bust truncation, left of center over the 9.
3. Kern Specimen. Gem Brilliant Proof. Ex: B. Max Mehl, 1950: 243 sold as part of a set for $4,100; Amon Carter, Sr.; Amon Carter, Jr.; Stack's, 1/1984: 632 $88,000.
The plate in the Carter catalog suggests a very minor toning spot on the obverse rim below the right side of the 8. Otherwise, no pedigree markers are apparent.
4. DiBello Specimen. Brilliant Proof. Stack's, 5/1970: 796.
The plate suggests a small spot attached to the side of the star above E in ONE. This may be a printing defect and not a spot on the coin. The obverse appears to have a small spot between the hair and C. A faint toning area appears over the left side of the 9.
5. Champa Specimen. Proof-63 (NGC). 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.
The obverse has several small spots including: between star 1 and the rim, in the field right of the junction of the hair and neck, and two others right of the hair and bun. A small lint mark, resembling the numeral 6, is located behind the hair bun below R. The reverse has a spot just inside the dentils at 4:30 and others at the base of D and L in DOL. (This coin is offered in the present sale as a separate lot).
6. Trompeter Specimen. Gem Brilliant Proof. Superior, 10/1974: 133 $105,000; Stack's, 6/1978: 828 $90,000; Ed Trompeter Collection; Superior, 2/1992: 134 $198,000; Stack's, 10/1995: 1547 $220,000.
The obverse has a minute spot below the right foot of M. The reverse has a vertical line-like impairment from the edge of the star over D of DOL.
7.The Present Specimen, Western Collection Specimen. Gem Brilliant Proof. Stack's, 12/1981: 1137 $80,000.
The obverse has a spot between the eye and 3. The reverse has small spots over the star and beneath N and M of UNUM.
8. Eliasberg Specimen. Proof-67. Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Louis E. Eliasberg, Jr.; Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982: 317 $101,750; Superior, 1/1985: 1766 $95,000; Superior 10/1991: 3389
The obverse has a spot just above the hair below star 6. The reverse has a spot on the rim below U of FOUR and another on the star between the E of ONE and first L of STELLA.
9. Memorable Specimen. Proof-65 (PCGS). Numismatic Gallery, "Memorable" Collection (J.F. Bell), 3/1948: 280; Bowers and Merena, 7/28/1997: 359 $231,000; Spectrum Numismatics. Illustrated in Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins 1722-1989.
The obverse has a spot centered vertically below star 1, another between the digit 6 and throat but closer to the throat, and below the left side of G in GRAMS. The reverse has a spot at the dentil tips below the left edge of O in DOL.
10. Smithsonian Specimen. National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution.
11. Lilly Specimen. Smithsonian Institution.
12. Texas Specimen. Dr. Wilkison Collection; Texas Collection.
13. Stack's Specimen. Stack's FPL Summer 1997 offered as part of a four piece set for $875,000
The obverse has an oblong spot between star 2 and the rim.
From The Gold Rush Collection.(#88058)(Registry values: P3) (PCGS# 88058)

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Auction Dates
January, 2005
12th-15th Wednesday-Saturday
Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
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