1879 $4 Coiled Hair PR (PCGS# 8058)

2014 January 8 - 12 FUN US Coin Signature Auction - Orlando #1201

  • Auctioneer:
    Heritage Auctions
  • Lot Number:
    5405
  • Grade:
    PR66
  • Price:
    $851,875.00
Lot Description
1879 $4 Coiled Hair, Judd-1638, Pollock-1838, R.6, PR66 Cameo PCGS Secure. The 1879 Coiled Hair stella is one of the rarest and most valuable issues in American numismatics. The coins possess a beauty of design and intense historic interest that few issues can match, in addition to their absolute rarity. The infrequent auction appearances of Coiled Hair examples are met with spirited bidding from pattern enthusiasts and advanced U.S. gold collectors alike. The most recent public offering realized a price in excess of $1 million. Heritage Auctions is pleased to offer one of the finest known examples of this iconic issue in our January 2014 FUN Sale. All stellas are technically patterns for a proposed international coinage that was intended to function much as the euro does in the EU today. Two designs were produced, the Flowing Hair motif by William Barber and the Coiled Hair design by George Morgan. Both types were produced in successive years in 1879 and 1880, but only the 1879 Flowing Hair type is seen with any regularity, as several hundred restrikes were made of that issue. Both designs were also struck in copper, aluminum, and white metal. Although the stellas were ostensibly produced in the goloid alloy patented by Dr. Wheeler Hubbell, recent research suggests that all the "Goloid" stellas were struck on half eagle planchets that were filed down to reduce the gold content to the proper level. This procedure resulted in the parallel striations seen on all known examples. As mentioned above, the 1879 Coiled Hair stella is much more elusive than its Flowing Hair counterpart. Contemporary collectors believed only 10 coins were struck, but a few more examples are known today, so either the initial mintage was slightly larger or there was a small restrike mintage in 1880. The PCGS CoinFacts website estimates 12-15 examples are extant in all grades.
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