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    Description

    1879 Flowing Hair Stella, PR64 Cameo
    Judd-1635, Historically Important Pattern Issue

    1879 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1635, Pollock-1833, R.3, PR64Cameo NGC. The four dollar gold stella stands out as an something of a odd denomination, seemingly of little necessity given the two and a half, three, and five dollar gold coins already in circulation in the final quarter of the 19th century. Yet, the stella was a product of its time, and its history plays an important role in collectors' fascination with the short-lived pattern series.

    Whereas other obscure denominations like the two and three cent were authorized in an attempt to satisfy the needs of domestic commerce, the four dollar stella was originally conceived as an international trade coin. The Hon. John A. Kasson, the Minister to Austria at the time, believed a coin of exact value to the Austrian 8 Florin, the French 20 Franc, and other staples of the Latin Monetary Union would strengthen and facilitate commercial ties between the United States and the European countries. Kasson's initial conception was fundamentally altered, however, when Alexander H. Stephens, Chairman of the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures, teamed up with serial inventor and jack-of-all-trades William Wheeler Hubbell of Pennsylvania, patentee of the a goloid composition (an amalgam of gold, silver, and copper). Stephens and Hubbell believed that a four dollar coin could both serve as the ideal international trade coin and, because it was to be struck in goloid, make Hubbell extremely wealthy. The major problem the two men failed to understand was that four dollars did not equate to the 8 Florin or 20 Franc and could thus would have limited, if any, international use. The project failed to meet its objective and was ultimately abandoned.

    The Charles Barber-designed Flowing Hair coins of 1879 are the most available of the four stella issues, with "available" being a relative term. The coins were distributed to Congressmen for their approval, and production estimates range from 425 to 725 pieces. Mint records indicate that the actual mintage represents the lowest figure on the spectrum. Either way, collector demand far outweighs the number of surviving representatives, resulting in spirited bidding and high prices when examples cross the block.

    Deep mirroring provides the fields with a jet-black appearance that contrasts starkly against the frosty design motifs on this near-Gem stella, accounting for the Cameo designation. NGC has also awarded a Star for aesthetic appeal. Yellow-gold color dominates each side with occasional reddish accents, and a few hair-thin grazes prevent an even higher numeric grade. This is a phenomenal, historically important offering with technical quality and eye appeal to match. Census: 26 in 64 Cameo (1 in 64+ Cameo, 2 in 64 Cameo), 47 finer (5/15).


    (Registry values: P1)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 28AZ, PCGS# 88057)

    Weight: 7.00 grams

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


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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2015
    4th-7th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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