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    1879 Flowing Hair Stella, Judd-1635, PR65 Cameo
    Strongly Contrasted, Problem-Free Example

    1879 $4 Flowing Hair, Judd-1635, Pollock-1833, R.3, PR65 Cameo PCGS Secure. CAC. The obverse has a profile of Liberty facing left, her hair flowing down behind her head, suggesting the popular name of this variety. The legend, 6 G .3 S .7 C 7 G R A M S consists of 12 individual figures, each separated by 13 five-pointed stars, with the date below. The reverse has a large five-pointed star serving as the central motif. ONE STELLA 400 CENTS are in incuse letters on the star. Small letters in the field carry the mottos E PLURIBUS UNUM and DEO EST GLORIA. Around, the primary legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA with FOUR DOL below. Struck in gold with a reeded edge.

    Numismatic tradition tells us that 425 of these four dollar gold pieces were coined in 1879, a substantial mintage for a gold pattern. Consider that only 30 proofs of each regularly issued gold denomination were coined in 1879, and the stella mintage seems even more unlikely. Some numismatists have recently suggested that the actual mintage might be even higher than the traditionally reported quantity. In addition to those actually struck in gold, a few pieces were coined in copper and aluminum. The off-metal 1879 Flowing Hair pieces are much rarer than those struck in gold. Today, perhaps 200 to 250 of these four dollar gold coins still survive, somewhere in the vicinity of half the original mintage, seemingly a good estimate for many proof gold coins of that era. Most of the survivors are lower grade or impaired, or both. Few survive in Gem quality.

    The only way to make a good estimate of the surviving population is to take a census, but that is nearly impossible with so many different pieces known today. Anyone who has attempted to plate-match proof gold coins from older auction catalogs understands the task at hand. While a complete roster of the 1879 Coiled Hair, and the two 1880 varieties is possible, such a roster of 1879 Flowing Hair coins is probably an unreachable goal. Perhaps more important than a complete roster is a census of the top pieces, including only those examples that grade PR65 or finer, a more reasonable goal for the 1879 Flowing Hair issue.

    This Gem Cameo proof has brilliant lemon-yellow surfaces with several splashes of copper-orange toning on each side. It is sharply struck with lightly frosted devices on deeply mirrored fields, creating a strong cameo contrast. Diagonal planchet striations are oriented down to the right on the obverse and up to the right on the reverse. These are seen to some degree on all known gold stellas, a result of the steps necessary to create the coins. Population: 15 in 65 (1 in 65+) Cameo, 15 finer (6/15).
    Ex: National Money Show Auction (Heritage, 3/2008), lot 1450.(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
    August, 2015
    12th-16th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 32
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,886

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