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    Popular 1879 Flowing Hair Stella, PR55

    1879 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1635, Pollock-1833, R.3, PR55 NGC. The obverse of Charles Barber's Flowing Hair stella design has a legend that is not necessarily clear at first glance. Listing the characters sandwiched between the stars yields 6 G .3 S .7 C 7 G R A M S. The latter half refers to the total weight of the piece, seven grams, while the preceding characters refer to the weight of individual elements. The intended alloy would have six grams of gold, three-tenths of a gram of silver, and seven-tenths of a gram of copper.
    Some scholars, however, believe that the stella patterns were not made of that metric alloy, which had been supported by the Honorable John A. Kasson, Ambassador to Austria-Hungary and a former chair of the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures for the House of Representatives. Rather than create a batch of an entirely new alloy for a small run of trial pieces, it would be more convenient to use the existing gold coin alloy of .900 gold and .100 copper. The diameters of the stella and half eagle were similar, and by reducing the thickness of planchet stock for half eagles and using a punch of appropriate size, manufacturing blanks would be simple. The small difference would go unnoticed, as few members of Congress had rigorous metallurgical training.
    Hardly any legislators of 1879 were numismatists, either, and it is unsurprising that a number of Flowing Hair patterns suffered wear or other impairments. The piece offered here shows signs of a brief time as a pocket-piece. Light, even wear appears on the lightly striated highpoints, though the lemon-gold fields retain much of their original reflective luster. Scattered contact marks and hairlines appear on the surfaces, and the portrait has a diagonal mark on the neck. Still, this stella has strong visual appeal, and its minor impairment does not take away from its importance. A "dream coin" for generations of collectors, this piece is sure to be a numismatic dream come true for the winning bidder.
    From the Jerry and Shelly Ferrero Collection.(Registry values: P1)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 28AZ, PCGS# 8057)

    Weight: 7.00 grams

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


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

    View all of [The Jerry and Shelly Ferrero Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2007
    8th-10th Wednesday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,041

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