By CoinWeek ….
Aluminum patterns struck by the United States Mint are rare, and GreatCollections is currently offering the finest known of six surviving examples of an aluminum 1879 Coiled Hair $4 Stella, graded Proof 67 Cameo by PCGS and approved by CAC. The pattern is cataloged as Judd-1640 in collector and researcher J. Hewitt Judd’s reference book United States Pattern Coins (9th Edition, 2005), where this very specimen serves as the plate coin. Only one other J-1640 has earned a green bean from CAC.
Adding to its prestige, this aluminum 1879 Coiled Hair Stella is listed on the holder as pedigreed to the Bob R. Simpson Collection, one of the finest collections of United States pattern coins ever assembled.
Designed by famed U.S. Mint engraver George T. Morgan, small numbers of this pattern were struck in copper, white metal, gold, and aluminum – aluminum being much harder to refine in the 19th century and was therefore more valuable than gold for a time. The metal also allowed for a sharper strike, and this example is an excellent demonstration of that fact. Like the legendary gold Stellas, aluminum specimens were initially produced to give to U.S. Congressmen to convince them to support the proposed trade coin but private strikings in aluminum were also made.
The coin currently being offered by GreatCollections first appeared in the 1967 sale of the famous Rio Rancho Collection by coin dealer Lester Merkin. It was then sold by Superior in their 1974 sale–one of the biggest numismatic auctions of that decade. After an appearance in the ANA sale of 1979, the coin went off the market until it was sold once again by Superior in 2004 for $89,125 USD. In a July 2008 Stack’s Bowers sale, this coin achieved a price of $373,750.
At the time of writing, the highest of 29 bids is $26,000 USD.
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