Coin Specifications

Category: Four Dollar Stella (1879-1880)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 15
Catalog: KM-Pn1742
Obverse Designer: Charles E. Barber
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.8600
Weight: 7.0000g
AGW: 0.1935oz
Melt Value: $237.27 (9/18/2014)
Diameter: 22mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1880 FLOWING HAIR $4 PF obverse 1880 FLOWING HAIR $4 PF reverse


  
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Description & Analysis

Following a suggestion from Honorable John A. Kasson, minister to Austria from America, a gentleman who traveled widely, the $4 piece was conceived as being interchangeable at par (more or less) with similarly sized gold coins issued by various European nations. To promote international acceptance and ready determination of its metallic content, the obverse inscription was stated in the metric system, and noted that the $4 contained 6 parts gold, .3 parts silver, and .7 parts copper, yielding 7 grams of alloy, 90% gold as stated.

The reverse stated the denomination as 'ONE STELLA 400 CENTS,' within a 5-pointed star. The long used motto E PLURIBUS UNUM appeared above, and the experimental motto DEO EST GLORIA below. Surrounding is the inscription: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA/FOUR DOL. Interestingly, the particular reverse design states the denomination three different ways possibly a good item to insert in a numismatic trivia contest. The value is given as 'ONE STELLA,' also as '400 CENTS,' also as 'FOUR DOL.' Hopefully, there was nothing else left to the imagination!

The idea of a freely interchangeable international coin had several fatal flaws, and, in essence, the concept was dead at the starting gate. First, the $4 Stella was never interchangeable on a one-to-one basis with other specific coins, as there would be some small amount of adjustment to be made to reflect different values. Secondly, even if the $4 were interchangeable at a given time, exchange rates varied then, as now, and the parity would soon be lost.

It is probably the case that the 1879 $4 pieces were struck simply to answer the call for creating such a denomination for inspection, without any serious Treasury Department thought of using it. Additional pieces were struck of the Flowing Hair design in 1880, and of the Coiled Hair design (by Charles E. Barber) in 1879 and 1880, in small quantities, and not disclosed to the numismatic community. Information concerning these other issues was not generally available until early in the 20th century when their existence was publicized by Edgar H. Adams.

Although the 1879 $4 was made as a pattern and, of course, still is, the uniqueness of the denomination made it popular with numismatists, and in short order the 1879 Stella was incorporated into many collections, eventually into catalogs and price lists. Likewise, the 1880 issues are also included by many collectors. Today, Stellas are primarily collected by numismatists in general, rather than pattern specialists.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 9/11/2014

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1880 FLOWING HAIR $4 PF
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667
Base $ - - - 87500 109380 109380 125000 128130 131250 134380 139380 162500 168750 206250 343750 431250 506250 687500
$ - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1880 FLOWING HAIR $4 PF Cameo
  GVGFVF404550535558656667
Base $ - - - - - - - - - - 600000 700000 1100000
$ - - - - - - - -
1880 FLOWING HAIR $4 PF Ultra Cameo
  GVGFVF40455053555864
Base $ - - - - - - - - - - 500000
NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 17
Low Grade: 61
Average Grade: 64
High Grade: 67


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
11/29/2006 PCGS Proof 65   Heritage Auctions 2006 November Dallas Signature Coin Auction #420, 420/Lot# 2153 $287,500.00
3/6/2008 NGC Proof 66   Cameo Heritage Auctions 2008 March Phoenix, AZ (ANA) Signature Auction #1102, 1102/Lot# 1451 $488,750.00
6/26/2008 PCGS Proof 64   Heritage Auctions 2008 June West Palm Beach, FL (Summer FUN) Signature Coin Auction #1110, 1110/Lot# 1960 $431,250.00
1/9/2013 NGC Proof 66   Heritage Auctions 2013 January 9-13 US Coin FUN Signature Auction - Orlando Session(4), 1181/Lot# 5856 $440,625.00
9/23/2013 NGC Proof 67   Bonhams Coins and Medals, 20992/Lot# 1010 $959,400.00
9/23/2013 NGC Proof 67   Bonhams The Tacasyl Collection of Magnificent United States Proof Gold Coins, 20992/Lot# 1010 $959,400.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1880 FLOWING HAIR $4 PF
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base10855110481124411442116431254712757131121321913323134261358614277144501540018026192932022722102230002449029574
1091911113113101150911944126171287513147132531335713479138161433414766162751844819604208522240123496261840
000000128751314713253133571347913816143341476616275184481960420852224012349600
000000129931318313288133911353214046143921508317150188701991521477227002399300
1880 FLOWING HAIR $4 PF Cameo
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base11216114141161411817120231294813163135271363613743138481401215252172961886620153212532221712571131631415217577
1128211480116811188512331130191328413563136711377813902144251593317819192952051921574222171276813492152930
000000132841356313671137781390214425159331781919295205192157422217127681349200
000000134051359913707138131395714838166141834219724208862189522217129651382200
1880 FLOWING HAIR $4 PF Ultra Cameo
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base11714119181212512335125471350213723140981421114321144291459915326155091651019272206022158223549244902604931365
1178211987121951240512865135751384814135142471435714485148411538715842174301971520928222372386225009278210
000000138481413514247143571448514841153871584217430197152092822237238622500900
000000139731417314284143931454215083154481617618351201582125522893241762552900
Registry Image Gallery

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