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Description

PR62 1879 Flowing Hair Gold Stella, Judd-1635
Especially Attractive for the Grade

1879 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1635, Pollock-1833, R.3, PR62 PCGS. No. 18 on the list of 100 Greatest U.S. Coins: not too shabby a performance for a pattern that started out as a rather bizarre, impractical experiment at international currency reform. Jeff Garrett, with Ron Guth, ranks both the 1879 and 1880 stellas -- four types are known in all -- at number 18 in the third edition of the noted reference. (The notion of lumping together the 1879 Flowing Hair with the three other stella variants is a bit bizarre as well, as the others are at least R.6 or higher -- the 1879 Coiled Hair, and the 1880-dated examples of both designs.)
In any case, the 1879 Flowing Hair stella's very availability, compared to the rest of the series, makes any example offered at auction the subject of intense bidding and feverish demand. (It must be mentioned, too, that the odd denomination adds to the appeal: Between the two cent bronze, the three cent nickel or silver, and the four dollar gold, advanced collectors can play a mighty game of "show and tell" with their noncollector friends. )
The stella or four dollar gold never had any serious chance at success, as it approximated but did not equal any of various circulating European currencies of its time -- sort of an early euro experiment. Given the current economic mess in the European Union, that should give some idea of the stella's viability at the time.
The current PR62 example, certified by PCGS, shows clearly the die striations through the central high points. It is our belief that all pieces possess these striations, since the stellas were struck on shaved-down half eagle planchets of normal fineness rather than struck in the special metric alloy noted on the obverse. (We are still waiting for someone to perform nondestructive metallurgical analysis to prove or disprove this theory once and for all.) The fields are deeply reflective, the devices mildly frosted. Deep reddish-orange coloration prevails against glints of hazel around the device margins. A few hairlines in the fields, rather than overt contact marks, are the grade determinant. As an especially attractive example for the grade, we think this piece should see spirited bidding -- both from American and our increasingly international contingent, as a coin that has managed finally to transcend its former limitations.(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 28AZ, PCGS# 8057)

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Auction Info

Auction Dates
January, 2012
3rd-8th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
Members Tracking: N/A
Page Views: 706

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