$4 Stella

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$4 Stella

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Overview

The $4 Stella is one of the rarest coins in not only the United States but in the entire world. It is a pattern coin which means it was never approved for release by the U.S. government. Less than 500 of these were ever minted and to get your hands on one will most likely cost you anywhere between a hundred thousand and 3 million dollars. This ultra rarity was only minted for two years from 1879 to 1880 and each of the two years have two different designs – Type 1’s obverse has Lady Liberty with Flowing Hair and Type 2 has Lady Liberty with Coiled Hair. This was the first and last coin of this denomination ever minted by the United States.

Type 1

  • Obverse: Lady Liberty with Flowing Hair
  • Reverse: Five Pointed Star
  • Edge: Reeded
  • Years: 1879 and 1880
  • Mints: P
  • Mintage: 460 (Total between both years)
  • Designer: Charles E. Barber

Type 2

  • Obverse: Lady Liberty with Coiled Hair
  • Reverse: Five Pointed Star
  • Edge: Reeded
  • Years: 1879 and 1880
  • Mints: P
  • Mintage: 30 (Total between both years)
  • Designer: George T. Morgan

History

In the late 1870s, John A. Kasson, the U.S. minister to Austria at the time, recommended the minting of a gold coin that was the equivalent to 400 Cents. He suggested this because the United States had an opportunity to join the Latin Monetary Union (LMU) which was a group of European countries that were attempting to unify their currency. He knew that a coin worth 400 cents could be exchanged for coins of similar value in many countries in Europe; therefore it would be used by foreign travelers and help make the United States a member of the LMU.

In 1880 Congress ultimately did not approve of joining the LMU and the production of the $4 Stella was rejected. Approximately 500 $4 Stellas had already been minted and many were offered and sold to Congressmen and political friends for the cost of production which was $6.50. Not surprisingly this outraged many coin collectors and dealers. Nevertheless, slowly $4 Stellas have been sold on the open market and the value of these pieces has skyrocketed overtime.

The more valuable of the Stellas is the Coiled Hair. Only 30 Coiled Hairs are estimated to have been minted where as the Flowing Hair’s estimate is around 460. The most expensive known Coiled Hair sold for $2 Million and the most expensive Flowing Hair was sold for $950,000. For both types, the 1880s are typically valued higher than the 1879s.

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Here at Atlas Gemstones & Rarities we have experience placing a $4 Stella to one of our clients.

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