Coins and Medals

31 Aug 2014, starting at 10:00 PDT .

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1879 Flowing Hair $4 Proof 62 PCGS
Gold Shield Holder. Always a special coin of interest to this writer is the 1879 and 1880 $4 gold "Stella." Beginning in the 1870s, several countries advocated the establishment of a universal coin that would correlate to several international currencies. A few efforts were made early in the decade, hence coins such as the 1874 "Bickford" pattern eagle were produced, but the most serious attempts came in 1879. That year, America's minister to Austria, John A. Kasson, proposed a $4 gold coin with a metallic content stated in the metric system, making it easier for Europeans to use and understand. Per Kasson's proposal, this new coin would approximate in value the Spanish 20 Peseta, Dutch 8 Florin, Austrian 8 Florin, Italian 20 Lire, and French 20 Franc piece, among other denominations. The purpose of the $4 gold coin was to facilitate international trade and travel for Americans -- the same motivation behind the 1874 "Bickford" eagle and some other gold patterns. Congress became interested enough in Kasson's suggestion to order the Mint to produce a limited run of the $4 gold coins so that Congressmen could review them. Soon thereafter, Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber prepared an obverse design that depicted a portrait of Liberty facing left with long, flowing hair. Meanwhile, George Morgan created a similar obverse portrait with coiled hair. Each design was struck in both 1879 and 1880. The designers decided on the nickname "Stella" for this new coin as there is a large central star on the reverse and the word stella means star in Latin.

The 1879 Flowing Hair version is the most available of the four known varieties, as this was the first version produced for Congressional inspection. Although 425 pieces were supposedly coined, it is likely that as many as 725 pieces were eventually struck in proof format. One numismatic legend states that some Congressmen gave their "Stellas" to their mistresses as gifts, hence the large number of impaired specimens known today with an ex-jewelry appearance. The other three varieties, 1879 Coiled hair, 1880 Flowing Hair, and 1880 Coiled Hair are very rare and highly sought after.

A sparkling Proof example of a collectible quality for this beautiful design with nicely reflective fields supporting the raised, lightly frosted devices. Gleaming luster blends effortlessly with straw-golden highlights on the satiny devices. Noted are some light roller lines through the portrait as are seen on most of the issue. Sharp throughout, some minor hairlines and handling marks are visible under close scrutiny. Just a glance at the present lot will serve to underscore the reason bidders will eagerly vie for it. (PCGS 8057)
Sold for US$ 117,000 inc. premium
1879 $4 Flowing Hair Stella Proof 45 PCGS
The four dollar gold piece, or "Stella," (its official name per the enabling legislation) is one of the most prestigious and sought-after of all United States gold rarities. The derivation of the term "Stella" is one that, while often recapped in numismatic circles, is not completely understood by many. When gold coins were first struck in the Philadelphia Mint in 1795, they were based on a unit of value called the 'eagle.' The eagle, equal in value to ten dollars, also had the design of an eagle on one side. If the eagle is worth ten dollars, it would follow that a half eagle would be worth half that amount, a quarter eagle two and a half dollars, and so on. The four dollar gold piece, when it was proposed in 1879-80 (the new denomination was the brainchild of John Kasson as an international metric coin), was meant to be a new base unit for gold coins. The planners decided on the name of "Stella." Similar to the eagle and other gold coins based on the ten dollar gold standard, the statutory "Stella" has a star on the reverse, since 'Stella' means star in Latin. Charles Barber engraved the dies for the Flowing Hair Stella in 1879, although he modified a design earlier done by his father, William Barber, from the previous year (William had died in August of 1879).

This example almost certainly traces its origin back to the Philadelphia Mint's official restrike of 425+ pieces in 1880. Having spent some time i9n the channels of commerce, the surfaces exhibit obvious wear across all of the highpoints and the fields. Lightly abraded, a pleasing straw-gold hue is presented on each side. Despite the drawback, this is a legitimately rare coin that is always in high demand from gold specialists. We expect this more affordable specimen to elicit strong bids when it crosses the auction block in search of a place of honor within a respected collection. (PCGS 8057)
Sold for US$ 72,540 inc. premium
1776 Continental Dollar, CURRENCY, Pewter, MS61 NGC
Newman 2-C, Hodder 2-A.3, R.3. The year 1776 was a highly important one for the thirteen American Colonies. On July 4 of that year, delegates to the Continental Congress signed a Declaration of Independence, sending notice to England and the rest of the world that the Colonies would submit no longer to outside governance and interference. In recognition of the solidarity of the Colonies and their assumption of the right as a sovereign entity to coin their own monies, plans were made to issue a silver dollar. Patterns, using designs provided by Benjamin Franklin, were struck in pewter, brass, and silver.

Of all the Continental dollars produced, most were struck in pewter. These may have been the pieces that the Continental Congress intended for function in place of $1 notes. It is likely, however, that the original plan also included an "upgrade" (if you will) to silver Continental dollars of full intrinsic worth at the time -- a much better alternative to the $1 notes that would presumably have met with widespread acceptance in commerce. Desperately short of funds, however, the Continental Congress was unable to provide enough silver bullion to make extensive silver coinage possible and, in the end, only the pewter pieces were struck in significant numbers. A few brass impressions are also known to exist, their original purpose is unknown. The first pewter Continental dollars were struck in New York City at the time when the Continental Congress was still located in that city. When New York fell to the British in September of 1776, the minting facility almost certainly followed the Continental Congress in its flight to Philadelphia. Additional Continental dollars were likely struck in Philadelphia and/or Lancaster, Pennsylvania, again probably only pewter impressions due to a lack of silver bullion in the hands of the Continental Congress.

This Uncirculated example has lovely argent-gray surfaces with darker gray patina at the center of the obverse, and traces of golden toning on the reverse. The surfaces are lustrous albeit a bit muted as is characteristic of pewter alloy. Typical surface marks are grade-consistent, without problems of any significance. A boldly impressed example with good centering, and exceptional eye appeal. (PCGS 794)
Sold for US$ 70,200 inc. premium
1880 $4 Flowing Hair Stella, Gilt Copper Pattern, Judd-1658, Pollock-1858, Low R.7, Genuine, Uncirculated Details, Plated PCGS
Struck in copper with a reeded edge and gilt subsequent to striking. Although not graded by PCGS and simply labeled as Genuine, we believe this piece to grade Proof 63 with gilt surfaces, reflecting a nicely done process. There are no apparent flakes, thin spots, or mentionable blemishes, and a high, sharp wire edge is present on each side. This desirable piece still has lovely eye appeal with pleasing olive-gold patina circling the peripheries and contrasting against the more straw-gold hues at the centers. Liberty's hair is a trifle soft at the usual point above the eyebrow, but the rest of the details are powerfully impressed.

Many collectors are familiar with the design of the Stella, which features a flowing haired Liberty facing left on the obverse and a five-pointed star surrounded by text on the reverse. It is notable that the denomination is written in three different ways on the reverse: ONE STELLA, 400 CENTS, and FOUR DOL. Designed by Charles Barber, the Flowing Hair Stella was proposed to serve as an alternative for several foreign gold coins of the same size. One of several Congressional proposals for an international trade coin, the Stella was never adopted for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is its odd-denomination that is so popular among collectors today. Copper pattern examples are extremely rare, with a population of only 10 examples of the present variety known according to United States Pattern Coins, Ninth Edition. It is unknown how many of these have been gilt after striking. Nearly any collector can speak to the desirability of a Stella, and most can only dream of owning one. Serious consideration should be given to the opportunity to acquire this seldom-offered rarity. (PCGS 62043)
Sold for US$ 56,160 inc. premium
1818 Texas (New Spain) 1/2 Real Jola, Small Planchet XF45 PCGS
W-8542, Breen-1082. Thanks to an article titled: "Lone Stars Rising, A Missing Numismatic Link," by Bevill and Alvin Stern in the May 2011 issue of The Numismatist, much new light has been shed on the once all but unknown 1817 and 1818 New Spain "Jolas." Prior to Texas' independence and the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), the entire southwestern portion of what is now the United States was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Many new settlers had occupied this territory, and by 1817, a need was felt for an issue of circulating coinage. Accordingly, Governor Manuel Prado authorized the city council of San Antonio to strike copper tokens valued at one-half real. These pieces were produced by Don Jose Antonio de la Garza, whose initials JAG appear on the obverse of the tokens. Other devices on that side include the date, the denomination, and the reverse being blank except for a simple five-pointed star that some researchers suggest may be the first use of the now-familiar Lone Star of Texas. Records indicate that De La Garza minted approximately 8,000 Jolas, most examples of which were distributed into circulation through local workers and their families. Fewer than 100 examples of both the small and large planchet varieties have survived, many of which were unearthed in 1958 by James J. Zotz, Jr. during excavation for a flood-control project.

The 1818-dated New Spain Jolas feature the initials JAG above, the date below, and the denomination expressed as 1/2, appearing horizontally due to space considerations. The 1818 pieces are known on small (17 mm.) and larger (19 mm.) planchets. This example features the numerator near the G with a larger star and the numerator partly left of the G in JAG. The planchet diameter is 17mm, at the high end of Breen's designation for the small planchet variety (15 to 17mm). The surfaces are slightly porous with a glossy texture. A mostly golden-brown example with deeper charcoal patina in recessed portions of the fields. A small edge flaw, probably mint-made, is noted at 7:30. The reverse field has a few wispy marks, visible only with magnification. These are mentioned as future identifiers as they have little visual impact on this rare coin. Currently, PCGS has certified a total of only five 1818 New Spain Jolas, the finest being an AU53. Listed on page 78 of the 2014 Guide Book. (PCGS 661)
Sold for US$ 46,800 inc. premium
1836 Gobrecht $1 Original Proof 63 PCGS
Silver, Plain Edge, Die Alignment IV, (medal turn with the eagle flying level, Liberty's head is opposite the letters OF). Gobrecht dollars have been highly popular with collectors since they were first struck and distributed in 1836. Whenever restrikes exist of an issue, you know that Originals must have been popular with collectors of the day. These classic issues are the first coins with the Liberty Seated motif, a design that would dominate the silver issues until 1892 and the debut of the Barber design. Gobrecht dollars were called patterns or experimental issues for many years; it would be the latter part of the twentieth century before researchers found Mint records indicating that a substantial number of these coins were actually placed into commerce. Thus, some Gobrecht dollars are now considered regular issues, albeit with a caveat, as most numismatists have considered them Proofs, a striking variant that is usually reserved for coins especially struck for collectors.

Deep reddish-golden-gray with lilac overtones in a somewhat variegated pattern on each side. Not marked to any extent, with none of the tiny marks present visible to the unaided eye. One of 1,000 Gobrecht dollars reportedly made for circulation purposes; however, this one somehow escaped the channels of commerce. Whether you feel this is a Pattern or regular issue, the 1836 Gobrecht dollar has handily fit into both categories for many years. Indeed, many are present in the early dollar collections that include at least one of Christian Gobrecht's beautiful design types, chiefly Judd-60 as offered here. A wonderful opportunity to obtain a classic United States scarcity in a lovely Select Proof state of preservation. This medal turn reverse alignment is considerably scarcer than the usually seen Die Alignment I examples of this date. (PCGS 11226)
Sold for US$ 35,100 inc. premium
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

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