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    Impressive 1879 Flowing Hair Stella, PR62

    1879 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1635, Pollock-1833, R.3, PR62 PCGS. Charles Barber and George Morgan played out their own version of "Dueling Banjos" at the Philadelphia Mint in the late 1870s. The Mint's chief engraver and assistant engraver each produced their own designs for all of the silver denominations in 1879. Today, Barber's work is known as the Washlady Design, while Morgan created his Schoolgirl design. Ultimately, neither design was delivered into production. Both artists also participated in the experimental metric coinage program, including designs for the proposed four dollar gold piece.
    These patterns were the result of a February 19, 1879 letter written by Alexander H. Stephens to John Sherman. Stephens was chairman of the Committee of Coinage, Weights, and Measures, and Sherman was the Secretary of the Treasury. The letter that Stephens wrote spelled out every aspect of the design, though he was a little vague about the central obverse device.
    Stephens wrote: "Will you please have a specimen or specimens, say five, of this coin struck? The obverse design similar to that of a double eagle = 6G. .3S. .7C., 7 grams--1879. The reverse--"United States of America. Four Dollars. E pluribus unum. Deo est gloria," and a large star emblazoned, in the words, 'One stella, 400 cents' ..."
    In United States Patterns and Related Issues, Andrew W. Pollock, III describes the Charles Barber Flowing Hair design:

    "Obverse: Head of Liberty with flowing hair facing left, with the inscription 6 G .3 S .7 C 7 G R A M S around and the date below. A coronet in Liberty's hair is inscribed LIBERTY. The Liberty Head motif is very similar to that featured on 1878-dated Flowing Hair $5 patterns, varieties [1766] and [1767]. The point of Liberty's coronet touches or nearly touches the star between .7 and C. Reverse: a five-pointed star inscribed in incuse lettering ONE STELLA 400 CENTS. Around the star are the mottoes DEO EST GLORIA and E PLURIBUS UNUM. At the border above is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and below is the denomination FOUR DOL."

    The George Morgan Coiled Hair design is identical, except for the obverse device: "Miss Liberty's hair is braided and coiled at the back of her head. She is wearing a ribbon inscribed LIBERTY."
    Although we have no knowledge of his response, Stephens may have been displeased with what he saw, as neither design is similar to the current double eagle design. Examples were produced in a variety of compositions, including copper, aluminum, white metal, and standard gold alloy.
    This splendid proof has gorgeous yellow-gold color with reflective surfaces and lustrous devices. A few faint hairlines on each side prevent a higher numerical grade, but the overall eye appeal certainly suggests a finer coin. The central obverse and reverse designs are somewhat weak as usual. Fine roller or drawing marks are present on both sides, slanting up to the right on the obverse and down to the left on the reverse.
    Ex: Cleveland Coin Auctions, 3/64, lot 484.
    From The John Stimson, Sr. Collection, Part One.
    (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 John Stimson, Sr. Collection, Part One ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2008
    9th-12th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,259

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