1879 Patterns by Variety | Patterns by Date

Obverse of 1879 Coiled Hair $4 Stella - Judd 1638      Reverse of 1879 Coiled Hair $4 Stella - Judd 1638

1879 $4 "STELLA" -

Variety equivalents:
Judd 1638

Rarity: Extremely Rare

Metal content: Gold

Edge: Reeded

Images courtesy of Superior Galleries

Significant examples:
NGC Proof-67 Cameo.  Offered by Albanese Rare Coins, Inc. in the December 30, 2003 issue of Numismatic News, price on request

PCGS Proof-66 (illustrated above).  Ex - Superior Galleries "The Pre-Long Beach Fall Sale 2002", September 23-24, 2002, Lot , illustrated, where it was described as follows: "1879 $4 Gold. Coiled hair. Original - Judd 1638. PCGS graded Proof 66. The finest example graded. With its well-honed professional eye, PCGS has done it again in placing this exceedingly rare and prestigious specimen in a class by itself. Breen states in his highly respected volume that likely 15 survive, with 10 known. Several of these elusive beauties have been impounded in museums, leaving precious few for the high-end collector-connoisseurs to hold.  With great fortune, we have one of supreme calibre, finer than even hallowed institutions and ivy-covered museums display, to present at auction here. Reflective surfaces, more so on the obverse shimmer under a central ring of lemon patina...this coin definitely must be seen to be believed.  More than worthy of a mid-six-figure bid, based on its extreme rarity, its stunning eye appeal, its "mana", as it were. There were two designs of Stellas, the Flowing Hair type by Barber, and the Coiled Hair type by Morgan. The name Stella comes from the large five-pointed star on the reverse.  Only a few original proof sets (Stella, goloid, and "goloid metric"dollars) were made in december 1879 from the Barber designs. At least 425 additional sets followed in 1880 from the 1879 Barber dies, by order of Congress: 25 in January, 100 in early April, and 300 more in mid-May.  After even the congressmen noticed that metric gold looked just like the ordinary coin gold, and that goloid was indistinguishable from standard silver, they killed the authorizing bill: Julian {1984}.  As the same dies were used for original Stellas and official restrikes, distinguishing between them has been a difficult problem. Coiled hair or Morgan Stellas are not known to have been restruck; they normally lack the central striations (on the strip from which these planchets were cut) found on most 1879 Flowing Hair Stellas and all the 1880 issues.  Presumably the very rare 1879 Flowing Hair coins without central striations are the originals. None has been auctioned in many years, although many restrikes have been marketed as originals owing to their having correct weights. An element of confusion was introduced in the early 1950's because the first few restrikes that were weighed proved lightweight, whereas Coiled Hair coins weigh the exact 108 Grains = 7 grams, called for by the authorizing bill. Later researches have shown that restrikes range from 103.2 to 109 grains. This fact makes weight no longer a usable test, whether for the usual ones or the final batch with rusty dies.   Stellas in their own day provided a juicy scandal resulting in amusing newspaper copy for several years--and many laughs at the expense of the congressmen who had ordered the restrikes. The story broke that while no coin collector could obtain a Stella from the Mint Bureau at any price, looped specimens commonly adorned the bosoms of Washington's most famous madams, who owned the bordellos favored by those same congressmen. Today there are several dozen 1879 Flowing Hair Stellas with telltale traces of removal of those same loops, whose owners probably sometimes wish the coins could talk.
(paraphrased from Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial coins)."

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