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$4 Stella Gold Coin
The “Stella” is a pattern $4.00 US gold coin. It was developed at the insistence of John A. Kasson, US envoy to Austria-Hungary at the time. They are made of an alloy called Goloid, which is comprised of Silver, Gold, and Copper.
Kasson wanted a coin that would compete directly with the Swiss 20 Franc, Italian 20 Franc, French 20 Franc, and Spanish 20 Pesetas, as the US $5.00 Gold Half Eagle was larger than all of its competitors. This coin would compete directly with for trade in Europe. However, the goloid composition was not an exact match.
Two different pattern designs were requested, and Chief Engraver Charles Barber designed the “flowing hair” variety while is assistant, George T. Morgan, designed one with “coiled hair.” Other than the treatment of Miss Liberty’s hair, the coins were identical.
In each design, Miss Liberty is facing left. The date is below her and she is surrounded letters and stars, which describe the metallic content of the coin. The reverse depicts a large five-pointed star with “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” around the periphery with the denomination “FOUR DOL.” below. Between the star points are two inscriptions “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and “DEO EST GLORIA.”
The original mintage of Barber’s coin design approximately 425 specimens, most of which were struck to develop support for the coin in Congress. The Congressmen kept the coins as souvenirs, and it is because of those coins that we have the surviving number of specimens that exist today.
The Morgan design with the “coiled hair” was being developed as the fate of the Barber design was being decided. Only 10-12 of the 1879-dated coiled hair specimens are known to exist.
In 1880, approximately 17-20 Specimens of the 1880 dated flowing hair specimen were struck while 8-10 examples of the 1880-dated coil hair Stella were struck. Accordingly, the most affordable example of the Stella is the 1879-dated Flowing Hair variety. But even those examples are prohibitively rare and expensive.