Extremely Rare 1879 Quintuple Gold Stella, Judd-1643; Continuous Pedigree from the U.S. Mint

    1879 $20 Liberty Head Quintuple Stella, Judd-1643, Pollock-1843, Low R.7, PR62 PCGS. The obverse has the Liberty Head from the regular issue double eagle, although it does not appear to be the Type Three hub used for regular issue pieces. The standard diagonal die line from the hair to the left side of Y is not present, as it is on all regular issue pieces of the third design. The legend is a variation of the legend on the four dollar stella: * 30 * G * 1.5 * S * 3.5 * C * 35* G * R * A * M * S *. The date is below the bust and the initials J.B.L. are located on the bust truncation. The reverse is similar to the regular issue piece with an eagle and shield design, the legend E PLURIBUS UNUM on the scroll work to the left and right. Around, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and below, the denomination TWENTY DOLLARS. An oval of stars and a glory of rays above the eagle contain the motto DEO EST GLORIA. It is this motto that is different from the regular design. Struck in gold with a reeded edge.
    Even the casual numismatist or collector is aware of the international experiment that is represented by the four dollar gold stella coinage. Although those pieces are patterns, they have been listed in the Guide Book since its first publication in 1946, and they are considered by some to be regular issue gold coins. Not nearly so well known are these "quintuple stellas," the 20-dollar version of the same coinage issue. Just five of these pieces are known in gold, along with 10 to 12 examples struck in copper. Among the five examples in gold are this piece, and another that is permanently part of the Smithsonian Institution holdings. The following pedigree is provided by Saul Teichman and

    1. PR62 PCGS. The example offered here. U.S. Mint; Dr. William Wheeler Hubbell; J.W. Haseltine (11/1881), lot 1490; Hebbeard Collection (H.P. Smith, 4/1883), lot 458; Dr. Edward Maris Collection (H.P. Smith, 6/1886), lot 230; Garrett Collection; Johns Hopkins University (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/1980), lot 1097; Ed Trompeter (Superior, 1/1989), lot 4026. Illustrated here.
    2. PR62 PCGS. Virgil M. Brand; Amon Carter, Sr. and Jr. (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 635; Ed Trompeter (Superior, 2/1992), lot 138; Heritage Inventory (2/1999). Illustrated in the Trompeter catalog.
    3. Proof. Virgil M. Brand; Adolphe Menjou (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 1813; King Farouk (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 294; 1958 ANA, lot 1676; Auction '79 (Stack's), lot 950; Stack's; Smithsonian Institution (via gift of Stack's). Illustrated in the catalog for Auction '79.
    4. PR63 Cameo NGC. Virgil M. Brand; Olsen Collection (B. Max Mehl, 11/1944), lot 624; Wilkison Collection; Paramount; A-Mark; New England Rare Coin Auctions (4/1980), lot 391; Stack's (10/2000), lot 1626. Illustrated on and also in Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795-1933 by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.
    5. PR64 NGC. H.P. Smith; J.S. Jenks; Elmer Sears (possibly as agent for the next); J.M. Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Estate (Bowers and Merena, 5/1996), lot 313. Illustrated in the Eliasberg catalog.

    Dr. William Wheeler Hubbell (aka Wheeler William Hubbell) was a citizen of Philadelphia with influence at the Mint. He had a keen interest in the various international coinage proposals of the time, and developed his "goloid" composition for the silver dollars, including a small amount of gold. His concept was a silver coin containing 90% precious metal and 10% copper. In New Orleans, The Daily Picayune reported on news in the U.S., including some pertinent information: "At the Philadelphia Mint, production of nickel three-cent pieces, Shield nickels, 20-cent pieces, and trade dollars was limited to Proofs for collectors; no business strikes were made for circulation. Goloid, a 'dream metal' patented by Dr. William Wheeler Hubbell on May 22, 1877, was employed to strike numerous pattern dollars beginning in 1878. This alloy contained silver and gold metal in the value ratio of 16 to 1, alloyed with 10% copper by weight (to add strength). Goloid coins were to be struck with weights and proportions on the metric system, hence the term goloid metric dollar." At about the same time, Hubbell applied for a patent "for an improvement in metallic cartridges."
    This example is an extraordinary proof with brilliant yellow-gold color and orange tendencies. Nearly every feature is sharply defined; only a few stars along the left obverse border are weak. A few light hairlines keep it out of the choice proof category. When this piece was offered in the Garrett Collection sale, and later in Superior's sale of January 1989, it had a clearly visible spot above the star to the right of the date. That spot has been removed through careful conservation, and not a blemish appears in that area today. The following tiny blemishes combine to positively identify the pedigree of this example: a tiny nick on Liberty's eye brow, a minute flake below the 3 in 30, a small planchet flake between G and star 3, a small mark below the upper serif of E in TWENTY, and a tiny blemish at the right curve of the final S in STATES. All of these marks are clearly visible in the Garrett catalog plate, the Superior catalog plate, and on the present coin. The importance of this opportunity cannot be overemphasized. This is an extraordinary rare pattern issue, one of just four pieces available to collectors, and one of the few pattern coins struck in gold. It has an amazing pedigree, continuous back to the day it was made, and this is one of few specimens available to collectors with such a complete provenance.
    Ex: Garrett Collection with complete pedigree recorded above.
    From The Jones Beach Collection. (PCGS# 62022)

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2007
    3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
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