Estimated grade. MORGAN COILED HAIR STELLA.
David Akers (1975/88): Although the reported mintage for this pattern is identical to that of the 1879 coiled hair stella, it appeared three less times at auction than the the 1879 coiled hair in the 238 catalogues we surveyed, and, if one examines all auctions back to the first appearance of both patterns (1882 for the 1879 coiled hair and 1906 for the 1880 coiled hair), the difference in rarity is even more obvious since the 1880 has been offered at auction only about two thirds as often as the 1879 coiled hair. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that the 1879 was restruck in small quantities, whereas the 1880 certainly was not resrtuck in the strict sense of the word (see my comments on the 1880 flowing hair), although it is possible that a small additional quantity was minted later in 1880. I really doubt that this is the case, however, and feel that the generally accepted mintage figure of ten pieces is probably correct.
However, it should be pointed out that 1880 coiled hair stellas have two distinctly different "finishes". The piece in the Smithsonian Institution and the one offered in the 1976 ANA Sale are both frosted proofs, that is, the devices are frosted while the fileds are mirrolike. However, the specimen that appeared in Paramount's Davies/Niewoehner Sale and the peice that was formerly in the Wilkison Collection are both fully brilliant proofs, so mirrorlike, in fact, that they give the appearance of having been polished, when in reality they were undoubtedly struck that way. So this pattern, even more than J-1638 and J-1657, has an aura of mystery about it. If only ten pieces were struck, it is virtually certain that they were not struck at the same time because of the two different finishes. However, there does remain the possibility that the original ten were the frosted type and the brilliant specimens are from an additional quantity that was struck later in that year, or vice-versa. Whatever the case, this stella remains the rarest of the four, and although at the time of writin my book on U.S. gold patterns I could account for only seven pieces, I can now acount for nine, split five and four between frosted proofs and brilliant ones respectively.
David Hall: The 1880 Coiled Hair is the rarest of the $4 Stellas. The original mintage was probably 10 coins and in my opinion only 5 or 6 survive today.
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