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1879 Four-Dollar Gold Stella - Current Bid $85,000

In their May 2019 Baltimore - Session 2 - Rarities Night auction taking place in Baltimore, Maryland, Stack's Bowers will be offering a classic 1879 Flowing Hair Four-Dollar Stella.

Graded PF 66 Ultra Cameo, the current bid stands at $85,000 with just a few days before bidding closes on 5/23/2019.

Classic 1879 Flowing Hair Four-Dollar Stella.  Image courtesy of Stack's Bowers.

Classic 1879 Flowing Hair Four-Dollar Stella. Image courtesy of Stack's Bowers.

The story of the rare, and historic, four-dollar gold Stellas of 1879 and 1880 is quite interesting. The idea of creating the Stella came from John A. Kasson, minister to Austria-Hungary, as an attempt at an international trade coin. At $4 with a composition of 85.71 percent gold, 4.28 percent silver and 10 percent copper, the Stella, named for the five-pointed star on its reverse, would have been a somewhat strained attempt at producing a U.S. coin more in line with European issues.

It's not easy for such ideas to get any sort of a hearing, but this one got help from Dr. W.W. Hubbell, who was responsible for patenting the gold alloy "goloid" used in making the famous goloid metric dollar.

The odds were not the best for the Stella since its value was not the same as the regularly circulating gold coins of Europe, and higher denominations were desired for the bulk of international trade.

Even so, the Stella was created. Charles Barber designed the Flowing Hair variety and it may well be his best work at the Mint. The Coiled Hair variety was the work of George T. Morgan, coming just a couple years after his design was used for the Morgan dollar.

The long-standing total for the 1879 Flowing Hair variety is 425, but Q. David Bowers estimates this total to be 700 in A Guide Book of United States Type Coins. Bowers places the 1879 Coiled Hair variety total between 20 and 30 pieces.