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1880 Flowing Hair Stella in Copper
1880 $4 Flowing Hair Four Dollar, Judd-1658, Pollock-1858, High
R.6, PR65 Red and Brown PCGS. Ex: Simpson. The Charles Barber
Flowing Hair design from the 1879 stellas is carried over here into
a second year of production. But the two issues are hardly carbon
copies, even though the design appears the same. On the 1880
pieces, the date is unusually small, shifted right, with the 0 in
the date nearly touching the lowest hair curls. The reverse is an
exact copy, the same die carried over from the 1879 strikings.
Struck in copper with a reeded edge.
Judd-1658, PR65 Red and Brown
Iconic and Sought-After Rarity
The stella is an icon of American coinage, famously included among regular issues in the Guide Book despite never having been adopted for circulation. The unique four dollar denomination was conceived as part of a scheme promoted by Dr. William Wheeler Hubbell that would have supposedly facilitated trade between the United States and members of the Latin Monetary Union, like France, Italy, and Switzerland. However, Hubbell's grandiose and self-enriching plan did not get too far beyond this stage of having patterns struck.
More than a dozen 1880 Flowing Hair stellas reportedly exist in copper, but most examples that come to market have been gilt to simulate the appearance of their gold counterparts, which, although more plentiful, command solid six and seven-figure prices at auction. Copper examples like this that retain their original surfaces are much rarer. We last offered a couple of non-gilt Judd-1658 patterns in January and April 2009, more than 11 years ago. It may be another decade before collectors get another opportunity to add a Judd-1658 1880 Flowing Hair stella to their collections.
This Red and Brown Gem proof is a tale to two sides. The obverse features glowing copper-orange color around and within the devices, while pale olive and sky-blue colors act as accents. The reverse is almost entirely toned in rich ocean-blue patina. Both sides are fully struck from the centers to the rims without the planchet striations invariably found on gold representatives. Eye appeal and preservation certainly match the numismatic significance of this sought-after rarity.
Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 72043)
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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