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Interesting AU Sharpness 1879 Stella

1879 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1635, Pollock-1832, R.3--Mount Removed--NCS. Proof, AU Detail. One of the most beloved apocryphal tales in American numismatics concerns the fate of a number of 1879-dated Flowing Hair Stellas. It is perhaps best told by Walter Breen, who wrote in his Encyclopedia:

"Stellas in their own day provided a juicy scandal resulting in amusing newspaper copy for several years--and many laughs at the expense of the congressmen who had ordered the restrikes. The story broke that while no coin collector could obtain a Stella from the Mint Bureau at any price, looped specimens commonly adorned the bosoms of Washington's most famous madams, who owned the bordellos favored by those same congressmen. Today there are several dozen 1879 Flowing Hair Stellas with telltale traces of removal of those same loops, whose owners probably sometimes wish the coins could talk."

Though it is debatable to what extent the Flowing Hair Stellas were turned into ornaments for the most notorious women of the nation's capital, the existence of many examples with remnants of mounts is undeniable. The present lot is one such coin. Deep honey-gold shadings prevail across most of the surfaces, though occasional glints of orange are noted close to the rims. Overall detail is strong, though a measure of wear crosses the high points of the design.
The obverse displays a number of small, individually insignificant abrasions and a handful of parallel marks on the cheek. The rim area corresponding to the upper obverse and lower reverse shows a disturbance, likely the point where the mount once was. Strong elements of original luster cling to the surprisingly radiant surfaces. In sum, a distinctive and interesting representative of this widely hailed pattern issue.(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 28AZ, PCGS# 8057)

Service and Handling Description: Coins & Currency (view shipping information)

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Auction Dates
Jul-Aug, 2008
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
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