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Popular 1879 Flowing Hair Stella in Gold
Judd-1635, PR61 Cameo

1879 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1635, Pollock-1833, R.3, PR61 Cameo PCGS. In his 1988 Complete Encyclopedia, Walter Breen sardonically attacked the ideas that brought about the stellas and other "metric" patterns of the late 1860s through the early 1880s. He described an "alleged need for international trade coins" and called three members of the House of Representatives--Richard P. Bland, John Adam Kasson, and William Darrah Kelley--an "unholy trinity" dedicated to foisting unwanted proposals for ill-conceived cross-border currencies on Congress and the Mint. As is often the case with Breen's work, however, there is more to the story.
In the European Commission brochure "One Currency for One Europe: The Road to the Euro," a sidebar highlights a number of thematic predecessors to today's most famous economic union:

"Economic integration between independent states is not new. The Latin monetary union, comprising France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Greece, existed from 1865 until 1927. The Scandinavian monetary union of Sweden, Denmark and Norway lasted from 1873 until 1924. The German Zollverein is perhaps one of the most successful examples, beginning with a customs union between German principalities in 1834 and producing a central bank, the Reichsbank, and a single currency, the Reichsmark, in 1875."

By 1879, the Latin Monetary Union had added Spain as a member, the Sweden-Denmark alliance had added Sweden's autonomous political union partner Norway, and the Zollverein had strongly influenced the beginning of the German Empire.
The United States was influenced by these monetary unions, the Latin in particular; after the Mint Act of 1873, the adjustment of the minor silver denominations to a metric standard meant that the weight of pure silver in a dollar's worth of American minor silver (though notably not a silver dollar or Trade dollar) was equivalent to the silver weight of five Belgian francs or Italian lire. The alignment of the American metric standard with the Latin Monetary Union was aided by their already close proximity; as has been noted elsewhere in numismatic literature, the change in weight of the minor silver pieces of the United States in 1873 was so small that properly proportioned planchets of the previous standard were within tolerance for the new benchmarks.
The stella was better-received as a pattern than as an idea for an international currency, and the 1879-dated Flowing Hair stellas were immensely popular with government officials. As a result, the 1879 Flowing Hair stella is one of the most heavily minted American patterns, though unceasing demand for the issue has made the available supply seem tiny by comparison. This mildly contrasted honey-gold and green-gold piece shows a few scattered faint hairlines in the fields and a pinscratch that runs near-vertically through the left obverse field, but it offers strong overall eye appeal nonetheless.(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 28B2, PCGS# 88057)

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Auction Dates
May, 2009
27th-31st Wednesday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
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