A unique 1879 Flowing Hair $4 gold Stella variety from the estate of the late Pennsylvania numismatist John Eshbach has been certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., the firm announced April 9.
The gold-gilt copper pattern, which will be offered in a future Heritage auction, has a slightly repositioned head of Miss Liberty on the obverse as compared to other pattern pieces, meaning it was struck with a different die than all other known examples.
On this piece, the top of the coronet points to the numeral “7” above it whereas on all other pieces the bust is tipped back so that the top of the coronet points to the star to the right of the “7.”
The lower tip of the neck of this repositioned bust of Liberty points to the “1” in the 1879 date whereas on all others it is aimed at the lowest star to the left of the bust.
This piece is recorded in both the Judd and Pollock pattern guides, NGC notes. Judd calls it J-1636a and Pollack P-1837. Its most recent appearance at public auction was in March 1985 when it was sold by Kagin’s.
NGC says, “It is not known for certain in which order the dies were employed, but it’s likely that this variety came first, since so many additional pieces were made with the other die.”
The other die produced pieces not only in gold but in copper, aluminum and white metal.
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NGC further notes that it is not known when the gilt was applied to this newly certified piece. It could have been done by the Mint or at a later time.
NGC grades this unique pattern Proof-60.
The $4 denomination was never authorized for production, but Flowing Hair and Coiled Hair patterns dated 1879 and 1880 often are listed in popular coin guides.