Classic American Coins – Stella $4 Gold Coin Goes Auction

By Gainesville Parts …….

There’s an old adage that goes “fake as a two cent coin” or “a three cent coin”. Although these obscure denominations had not been in circulation for very long, there were ironically denominations of two cents and three cents of American coins (the latter being known as “trime”) during the 19th century .

In addition, there were even gold coins with odd denominations: the short-lived $3 gold coin, the $2.50 quarter eagle and the $5 half eagle, and the “Stella” of $4 in gold. Sometime in the middle of the 19th century, the US currency even issued a gold 1 dollar coin alongside the silver dollar.

the Stella d’or is one of the lesser-known American gold coins, but is revered by American collectors among numismatic historians and enthusiasts.

About Stella d’Or

The Stella coin may seem like a strange ball, but it was meant to compete with other gold coins of a similar size in international trade. When it comes to world trade, the United States Mint had a bit of a Goldilocks problem: quarter eagles ($2.50) were too small and half eagles ($5) were too big compared to favorite “trade” gold coins like the British sovereignthe French Napoleonthe 20 Italian lireand the 20 Spanish pesetas.

Therefore, the $4 Gold Stella entered trial production.

Interestingly, the Stella never got beyond this trial phase, which meant that existing model coins (also called model coins or simply “models”) were minted in extremely low quantities. In addition to its rarity, collectors also appreciate its impeccable design and novelty.

The pattern was only produced in 1879 and 1880. The piece shows Statue of Liberty facing left on the obverse and a five-pointed star (from which the name stella comes) on the reverse. Reverse inscriptions include “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and “DEO GLORIA”, Latin for “Out of Many, One” and “Glory to God”, respectively. It came in two different varieties: a Flowing Hair design and a Coiled Hair design.

The coin was struck from an alloy of 86% gold, 10% copper and 4% silver. Markings around the outer edge of the coin display the weight of each respective metal in grams, with each character separated by stars: “G 6 S .3 C .7 GRAMS”.

The exact mintage of the coin is unknown (they were primarily only given to members of Congress), but approximately 425 of the Flowing Hair Stella Gold Coins are believed to be dated 1879, although only about fifteen were probably minted during that year. (Most were actually minted in 1880.) This is exceptionally low for a US coin of any kind. Only 30 of the Coiled Hair Stellas are known between the two years of issue.

Go to auction

Images courtesy of Bonhams

One of these ultra-rare gold coins is auctioned by Bonham’s September 6 (photo above). Its surface doesn’t really show a Proof finish due to excessive wear, which is rare for this series, leading experts to believe that it was likely incorporated into a piece of jewelry at some point. Despite its fragile state, this 1879 Floating Hair example is expected to make up to US$60,000 next month.

By comparison, a 1880 coiled hair Stella in perfect condition sold for $2.6 million three years ago. Another 1879 Gold Stella sold for over $1 million at the same auction.

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The opinions and forecasts contained herein are furnished for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation or recommendation to buy or sell any product..


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