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    1880 Flowing Hair Stella, PR66
    Finest Non-Cameo at PCGS
    Legendary Gold Pattern, Judd-1657

    1880 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1657, Pollock-1857, High R.6, PR66 PCGS. Ranked among Garrett and Guth's 100 Greatest U.S. Coins, the stella is a curious anomaly in the history of American coinage. Originally proposed as a solution to difficulties associated with exchanging United States decimal coins for their European counterparts, the coins failed to precisely match the value of foreign coins as intended. Additionally, twenty-dollar coins were already universally accepted in international commerce. While the four dollar gold coin was cast aside as unnecessary at the time, they are extraordinarily popular today and appeal to a wide range of collecting interests.

    The Honorable John A. Kasson and Dr. William Wheeler Hubbell are considered to be the originators of the four dollar denomination. It was Kasson, serving as U.S. Minister to Austria-Hungary, who first suggested a coin be struck approximating the value of the Austrian eight florin. A.H. Stephens, Chairman of the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures, supported Kasson's proposal in a report dated February 12, 1880:

    "The committee fully concurs in the opinion of Minister Kasson as to the importance of such a coin if it can be devised. They also think that its denomination should be near to the eight florin, twenty franc, twenty lira, twenty Spanish pesetas, and eight Dutch florins, without, however, departing from the manifestly superior decimal divisibility and embodiment of the 'Federal money,' or coinage system of the United States.

    "These coins approximate most nearly to four dollars, or 400 cents. Their nominal value is 388.8 cents, as near as they can be estimated. A coin of that denomination precisely would not suit the people, nor the coinage system, of the United States. But 400 cents are a value readily convertible into every other, and capable of use in expressing every other sum, as it contains but a single numeral to be used in any calculation. The coin of 400 cents is precisely four dollars United States standard, and all multiples and divisions of it can be instantly determined. For example, 1,000 8-florin coin are equal to 3,888 dollars, which divided by 4 gives 972 as their equivalent in four dollar coin."

    Dr. Hubbell was tasked with formulating an appropriate metallurgical composition for the coins based on his recently patented goloid alloy. He calculated that the coins ought to weigh seven grams, one-fifth the weight of the 35 gram metric gold double eagle he had also proposed. The coins were to contain six grams of gold, three decigrams of silver, and seven decigrams of copper. With the specifications figured out, the Mint set to work producing patterns such that the coins could be inspected, and eventually approved, by members of Congress. Since most of the coins were struck for display purposes, it was not considered necessary to strike them in Hubbell's goloid composition, and most of the coins that have been tested today conform to the 90% gold, 10% copper standard used on regular-issue U.S. gold coins ( at least two examples of the 1879 Flowing Hair type have been analyzed with the proper goloid mixture, however). Two design types exist: the Flowing Hair design, created by Charles Barber, and the Coiled Hair design by George Morgan. Barber's portrait of Liberty was officially selected for the prototypes, and between 400 and 700 1879 Flowing Hair examples were struck and distributed. A small quantity of 1879 and 1880 Coiled Hair coins were likely struck for numismatic purposes, and a number of 1880 Flowing Hair coins, represented by the example offered here, were also manufactured for similar reasons. Sources vary regarding the issue's mintage, but a reasonable figure falls somewhere around the 25-coin mark. Only 19 individual pieces have been identified, as detailed in the accompanying roster, which was expanded from the listing on Note that the roster is quite possibly incomplete. Earlier auction appearances probably represent sales of known coins, but they can not be conclusively identified because of insufficient photographic evidence, short written descriptions, or a lack of pedigree indicators. Whatever the case, the 1879 Flowing Hair stella remains a very rare and immensely desirable issue.

    The present coin is a spectacular Premium Gem, with sharply detailed design elements in most areas and just a trace of softness on Liberty's curls. The rims are broad and squared off and the striations always seen on coins of this denomination are faint. The delightful yellow and greenish-gold surfaces are impeccably preserved and the frosty devices provide bold contrast with the deeply reflective fields. Eye appeal is terrific. As the finest non-Cameo example certified by PCGS, this coin should be a welcome addition to the finest collection or Registry Set. Housed in a green label holder. Population: 1 in 66, 0 finer (2/15).

    Roster of 1880 Flowing Hair Stellas
    1. PR67 NGC. Dr. John E. Wilkison; Jeff Browning; Dallas Bank Collection (Stack's/Sotheby's, 10/2001), lot 362; Tacasyl Collection (Bonhams, 9/2013), lot 1010, realized $959,400.
    2. PR66 PCGS. Sherwood Boyd; Greater New York Convention Sale (Stack's, 5/1985), lot 1343, realized $63,250; Dr. Jack Adams Collection (Superior, 5/1992), lot 2673, realized $91,850. The present coin.
    3. PR66 NGC. Will Neil Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 2604 sold as part of a set for $3,850; Grant Pierce; 1976 ANA (Stack's, 8/1976), lot 2920 sold as part of a set for $225,000; Western Collection (Stack's, 12/1981), lot 1138, realized $41,000; Summer FUN Signature (Heritage, 6/2008), lot 1960, realized $431,250; FUN Signature (Heritage 1/2013), lot 5856, realized $440,625.
    4. PR65 PCGS. Auction '84 (RARCOA, 7/1984), lot 1913, realized $61,600; Chicago Sale (RARCOA, 8/1991), lot 967, realized $96,250.
    5. PR65 NGC. 1974 ANA (Paramount, 8/1974), lot 873, realized $40,000; Public Auction Sale (Stack's, 1/1994), lot 1489; Gold Rush Collection (Heritage, 1/2005), lot 30043, realized $264,500.
    6. PR65 NGC. Rio Rancho Collection (Superior, 10/1974), lot 134, realized $35,000; Auction '79 (Stack's, 7/1979), lot 801, realized $50,000; Auction '80 (Superior, 8/1980), lot 386, realized $105,000; Blevins/Bodway Collections (Superior, 6/1988), lot 6731, realized $84,700; Chris Schenkel Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1990), lot 508, realized $231,000; Long Beach Signature (Heritage 2/1995), lot 5837, realized $77,000.
    7. PR65 NGC. John Work Garrett; Johns Hopkins University; Garrett Collection, Part I (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1979), lot 432, realized $65,000; Jascha Heifetz Collection (Superior, 10/1989), lot 4297, realized $297,000; Swan/Sweet Collections (Bowers and Merena, 3/2004), lot 2621, realized $310,000; Dallas Signature (Heritage, 11/2006), lot 2153, realized $287,500; Dallas Signature (Heritage, 4/2007), lot 1694, realized $316,250; Husky Collection (Stack's, 6/2008), lot 2051.
    8. PR64 PCGS. Jerome Kern; Golden Jubilee Sale (B. Max Mehl, 5/1950), lot 244; Amon Carter, Sr.; Amon Carter, Jr. (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 633, realized $68,750; Ed Trompeter Collection (Superior, 2/1992), lot 135, realized $77,000; Somerset Collection (Bowers and Merena, 5/1992), lot 1470, realized $39,050; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 9/1998), lot 7106, realized $103,500; 65th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/2000), lot 1624; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2001), lot 8171, realized $94,875.
    9. PR63 PCGS. October Sale (Superior 10/1990), lot 2074, realized $71,500; Gainsborough II Sale (Superior, 2/1997), lot 2907.
    10. PR63 NGC. J.F. Bell (Jacob Shapiro); Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 281; United States Gold, Silver & Copper Coins (Stack's, 3/1999), lot 135; Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 1/2000), lot 351, realized $86,250.
    11. PR67. Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 318, realized $55,000.
    12. PR65+. S. Hallock DuPont Collection (Sotheby's, 9/1982), lot 251; Charles Kramer Collection (Stack's/Superior, 11/1988), lot 285, realized $72,600.
    13. PR65. Josiah K. Lilly; Smithsonian Institution, grade per Garrett and Guth.
    14. Gem Brilliant Proof. Massachusetts Historical Society (Stack's, 10/1970), lot 807, realized $13,000; Stack's FPL Summer 1997 offered as part of a four piece set for $875,000; Americana Sale (Stack's, 1/1998), lot 1498, still part of the set, unsold.
    15. Gem Brilliant Proof. Winner F. Delp Collection (Stack's, 11/1972), lot 791, realized $17,000.
    16. Gem Brilliant Proof. Samuel McVitty Collection (B. Max Mehl, 3/1938), lot 325; Floyd T. Starr; 65th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/2000), lot 1716.
    17. Choice Brilliant Proof. Possibly Belden Roach Collection (B. Max Mehl, 2/1944), lot 803; Auction '80 (Stack's, 8/1980), lot 1451, realized $65,000.
    18. Brilliant Proof. Winthrop Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 9/1975), lot 583, realized $31,000; Gainsborough (Abner Kreisberg, 9/1980), lot 1275, realized $52,000.
    19. Brilliant Proof. Auction '89 (Stack's, 7/1989), lot 1930, realized $72,600.

    Additional Appearances
    A. Proof. Public Auction Sale (H.G. Sampson, 12/1885), lot 583.
    B. Proof. Harlan Page Smith Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 5/1906), lot 1459.
    C. Proof. Virgil Brand in 1906, Brand Journal Number 34048.
    D. Proof. Virgil Brand in 1907, Brand Journal number 38944.
    E. Proof. Dewitt Smith; sold to Virgil Brand in 1908, Brand Journal number 46964.
    F. Proof. Edgar Adams; sold to Virgil Brand in 1911, Brand Journal number 57092.
    G. Proof. William H. Woodin; Public Auction Sale (Edgar Adams, 2/1911), lot 181; unknown intermediaries; Robert L. Marks Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1972), lot 1038.
    H. Proof. F.C.C. Boyd; sold to Virgil Brand in 1921, Brand Journal number 105731.
    I. Proof. John Story Jenks Collection (Henry Chapman, 12/1921), lot 5689; Virgil Brand, Brand Journal number 117649.
    J. Proof. Dr. G.F.E. Wilharm Collection (B. Max Mehl, 2/1921), lot 255; Charles Wellinger Collection (Mehl, 10/1923), lot 188.
    K. Proof. William Forrester Dunham Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1941), lot 2064; Albert A. Grinnell Collection (Mehl, 6/1943), lot 186; Fred E. Olsen Collection (Mehl, 11/1944), lot 618.
    L. Proof. Julius Guttag Collection (Abe Kosoff, 3/1942), lot 404.
    M. Proof. Col. James W. Flanagan Collection (Stack's, 3/1944), lot 1537, sold to Mr. W. (possibly Charles Williams).
    N. Proof. J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 308.
    O. Proof. Pennsylvania Sale (Hollinbeck, 2/1947), lot 2534.
    P. Proof. Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; H.R. Lee Collection (Stack's, 10/1947), lot 1208.
    Q. Proof. King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 323.
    R. Proof. ANA Convention Auction (Federal Coin Exchange, 8/1954), lot 1676A.
    S. Proof. ANA Convention Auction (Kosoff, 8/1958), lot 1945.
    T. Proof. ANA Convention Auction (Leo Young, 8/1959), lot 1780.
    U. Proof. Public Auction Sale (Kreisberg-Schulman, 2/1961), lot 1150.
    V. Proof. Golden Sale of the Century, Part II (Kreisberg-Schulman, 1/1963), lot 1939.
    W. Proof. ANA Convention Auction (Kosoff, 8/1968), lot 2190.
    X. Proof. Dr. Conway Bolt; private collection; Public Auction Sale (Lester Merkin, 9/1968), lot 543.
    Y. Proof. Sigmund L. Miller Collection (Harmer-Rooke, 12/1970), lot 3168.
    Z. Proof. Public Auction Sale (Lester Merkin, 6/1972), lot 427.
    From The New Orleans Collection.(Registry values: P2)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 28B3, PCGS# 8059)

    Weight: 7.00 grams

    Metal: 86% Gold, 4% Silver, 10% Copper

    View all of [The New Orleans Collection ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    22nd-26th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,805

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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