1879 $4 Flowing Hair Stella Gold Coin PR 66

  • This 1879 $4 Flowing Hair Stella gold coin is one of just a few hundred of its type in existence
  • It was part of a short series produced by the U.S. Mint from 1879-80 to compete with Europe's coins
  • The series was quickly determined to be redundant, discontinued and never circulated
  • This example is graded PR 66 and displays high contrast between the cameo and background
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-3554

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Minted for a very brief period from 1879-1880 and never circulated, the $4 Stella gold coin is one of the most storied and coveted U.S. coins ever struck. This PR 66 1879 $4 Flowing Hair Stella represents an ambitious if ultimately unsuccessful plan for the United States to compete in the global financial market. Nicknamed the “Stella” for the five-pointed star on its reverse, two different obverse designs were struck, one Flowing Hair type designed by Charles E. Barber and a Coiled Hair type George T. Morgan. Only 425 1879 Flowing Hair types were ever struck, with 400 of those being “restrikes,” including the present example.

The Stellas were produced as part of a commission from the U.S. Mint in an attempt to create a gold coin to compete with coins traded in European markets, but the concept was inherently flawed. The U.S. already had $2.50, $3 and $5 coin denominations, and the $4 denomination did not exactly match any of its European competitors. Ultimately, the $4 gold Stella was deemed superfluous, and the idea for an international U.S. gold coin was abandoned by Congress. 

The Liberty on the obverse was designed by Charles E. Barber, chief engraver of the U.S. Mint, and it closely resembles a design by his father, William Barber, for the J-1574 Half Union the previous year. This Liberty is similar to Morgan’s Coiled Hair type, except her hair sits loosely around her shoulders. This example, graded Gem Cameo Proof 66, is in pristine condition, sharply struck with high contrast between the cameo and background. Most surviving examples are graded between Proof 60-64, making this example all the more prized.
1879 $4 Flowing Hair Stella Gold Coin PR 66
Period: 19th Century
Origin: America
Type: Coins

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