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    1879 Flowing Hair Stella
    Judd-1635, PR64 Deep Cameo

    1879 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1635, Pollock-1833, R.3, PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS. CAC. International collaboration on coinage, postal, and other measurement standards became increasingly important during the 19th century, particularly after London's Great Exhibition in 1851, which brought merchants and scientists from around the world together. At the time, differing standards made calculating exchange rates, among other things, exceedingly difficult, and the major players on the world stage sought a solution.

    A significant step was taken in 1865 when France, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland signed a treaty forming the Latin Monetary Union. In so doing, they agreed to issue gold coins of equivalent value. An international monetary conference brought U.S. delegate Samuel Ruggles to Paris in 1867 at the suggestion of then-Chairman of the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures John A. Kasson. This represented the United States' first foray into international coinage discussions, and one year later it produced half eagle / 25 franc patterns in copper and aluminum (Judd-656 to Judd-659). The plan had several shortcomings, chiefly that the countries involved would have to alter coinage weights. The proposed bill was ultimately defeated in Congress.

    American interest in international coinage was revived in 1874, when entrepreneur Dana Bickford proposed a ten dollar gold coin that would simplify transnational commercial exchange not by standardizing weights, but simply by stating the ten dollar coin's equivalences in different currencies. A seemingly obvious flaw is that such rates are subject to change, which would have rendered the Bickford design obsolete.

    Probably the United States' most famous attempt at an international trade coin is the stella. John A. Kasson, serving as the ambassador to Austria-Hungary at the time, has largely been credited as the inspiration for the stella. In reality, Kasson never proposed that a four dollar coin would work, understanding that only a coin worth exactly $3.88 would be exchangeable with coins of the Latin Monetary Union. Instead, the ill-fated denomination was likely the brainchild of Representative Alexander H. Stephens and goloid patentee W.W. Hubbell, who used Kasson's reputation as an expert in such matters to promote their own interests.

    The 1879 Flowing Hair coins designed by Charles Barber are easily the most available in the series with around 300 examples believed extant. Few pieces, however, exhibit the bold field-device contrast that is readily apparent on each side of this phenomenal Choice Deep Cameo representative. Rich orange-gold surfaces display remarkably glassy fields, accenting sharply struck and thickly frosted motifs. The usual parallel striae appear over the centers. Tiny unimportant ticks and planchet voids are scattered throughout the fields. An impressive, eye-appealing example that will surely hold a place of importance in even the most advanced set. Population: 11 in 64 (1 in 64+) Deep Cameo, 16 finer (10/15).(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 28AZ, PCGS# 98057)

    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
    January, 2016
    6th-11th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,317

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