The 1880 Coiled Hair Stella
PCGS Coin No: 8060 Designer: C. Barber/G. Morgan Metal Content: 86% Gold, 10% Cop, 4% Silver
Diameter: 22 mm Weight: 7 grams Edge: Reeded
Quantity Minted: 10
Quantity Known: abt 7-8
Famous Owners: Louis Eliasberg, Amon Carter Sr.
Every year brings its share of numismatic price records and surprising realizations at auction. Perhaps the outstanding example from 2013 is the gem 1880 Coiled Hair Stella sold by Bonham's in September for a record shattering $2.57 million. Prior to that auction, no Stella had ever brought over $1 million. Here's a closer look at one of the most famous and desirable of all U.S. Pattern Coins.
The $4 Stella is an interesting prototype (or "pattern") issued in 1879 and 1880 in an attempt to provide a coin which was interchangeable with similar-sized gold coins in Europe. Though the design never made it to the production stage, the few examples created to test the feasibility of the design are highly sought-after today. The rarest of these prototypes are the Coiled Hair versions, which have Liberty's Hair arranged in a bun atop her head. The nickname "Stella" derives from the Latin word for star, the prominent element on the back of the coin. Stellas are one of the few pattern coins struck in gold and they are so rare and so desirable that they have become one of the Top Ten Most Famous U.S. coins.
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Coiled Hair Stellas appear on the market approximately once every few years, so they are slightly more accessible than some of the other coins in the Top Ten. However, their popularity gives them one of the highest price-to-rarity ratios among the coins in this list. A recent (Fall, 2013) sale for just over $2,500,000 placed the Coiled Hair Stella firmly onto the list of Million Dollar Coins.
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Discover the other nine U.S. Ultra-Rarities by downloading the complete, full color PDF – just click the icon below.