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Flowing Hair 1879 Stella, Judd-1635, PR55
A Long-Forgotten Experimental International Coin
Now a Collector Favorite

1879 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1635, Pollock-1833, R.3, PR55 PCGS. Although a contemporary failure in its concept, the four dollar gold piece, or stella, has proven to be a hit with generations of gold collectors, being incorporated into the standard issues of U.S. gold coins decades ago. The 1879 Flowing Hair stella is a curious piece that was proposed by John Kasson as an international coin whose value would be roughly equivalent to that of an Austrian eight florins and various other European equivalents.
The Flowing Hair stellas were originally engraved by Charles Barber in 1879 after a design his father, William, had executed in the previous year. About 415 pieces were struck as patterns (Judd-1635) and another 400 or so backdated restrikes were produced in 1880. These were widely distributed around Washington circles to popularize the proposed new denomination, but were soon forgotten when Congress rejected the international gold coin.
The specimen offered here appears to have been carried as a pocket piece for a year or two (one has to wonder if perhaps by a Cabinet member or influential Senator), but displays pleasing reddish and steel-blue highlights over partially glassy surfaces. With the recent upsurge in prices for higher-grade specimens (two PR64 examples sold a year apart in 2011 and 2012 realized $184,000) so-called mishandled pieces such as this take on an even greater importance for the budget-minded collector.
Ex: FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3484, where it brought $69,000.
From The Gnome at the Shore Collection.(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 28AZ, PCGS# 8057)

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Auction Dates
October, 2012
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 6
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Very good selection of scarce material as well as some for the average collector.
Rochester, MN
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