1879. Pattern $4 Gold Piece, J-1636, P-1834, Rarity-6+. Flowing Hair, Copper, Reeded edge, Gilt. Judd 1636. NGC graded Proof 63. The Charles Barber flowing hair design. This is an extremely rare pattern issue, only a few were struck, some of which were coated in gold or "gilt". On the obverse we see hazy yellow gold toning splashed on the obverse around the face, and similar toning on the reverse around the star. Well struck by the dies, with the curls on Liberty all present and bold, and similar sharpness on the reverse star and design legends. No signs of handling marks, just a few faint hairlines account for the grade. The wire edge or "fin" is bold on both the obverse and reverse and can be seen up against the white plastic insert in the NGC holder. NGC in their Population Report shows just 2 coins graded, this one and a coin as PF-64 above.
All Proof $4 patterns are rare and seldom offered. They are certainly the cream of numismatics, as gold coinage is always the most expensive and elusive, especially as pattern issues. The popularity of the $4.00 coins remains very strong today, and their rarity and stories are part of the great legends of numismatics. Tracing this specimen can likely be accomplished by taking the time to track down the sales listed in the excellent Pollock reference work. Color photo.
Estimated Value $5,000-7,500.
1879. Pattern $4 Gold piece, J-1639, P-1839, R-7, Coiled Hair, Copper, Reeded edge, Gilt. NGC graded Proof 62. George T. Morgan had a grand time with this design, the classical rendition of Liberty remains quite popular today as it did during the unveiling in 1879. All these copper patterns are extremely rare, the NGC Population Report notes just 4 graded this high, with a single coin graded higher as PF-63, and none graded lower. PCGS has only graded 1 of this pattern, that one is not gilt, as PR-64 Brown. Toned with hazy yellow colors in the fields, the devices and star all satiny in texture, while the fields are well mirrored. Identifiable by a small copper mark hanging down from Liberty's earlobe, and a toning spot between IT of UNITED. This one is in NGC holder #236415-003.
Although no pedigree is included with these rare pattern issues, we suspect they would be relatively easy to locate using the sales appearances noted in the excellent Pollock reference on Patterns. If the buyer would like assistance, please contact the Jim Matthews at the Goldberg's. Color photo.
Estimated Value $15,000-20,000.
1880. Pattern $4 Gold Piece, J-1658, P-1858, R-6, Flowing Hair, Copper, Reeded edge, Gilt. Judd 1658. NGC graded Proof 63. An example of the Charles Barber flowing hair design. Struck in copper and gold plated (gilt), this rare coin is seldom seen in any grade. Boldly struck by the dies, with cascading curls on Liberty and sharp design elements on the reverse too. Faint hairlines account for the grade, and we see no other handling marks. The fields boast a rich golden to coppery tone, and this one is basically as struck by the Mint. NGC reports just 3 graded, one as PF-60, and two as PF-63.
One of the most beautiful and popular of all pattern coins, the flowing hair and coiled hair stellas have been in feverish demand since the day they were coined. A choice example of this rare issue. Color photo.
Estimated Value $7,500-10,000.
1880. Pattern $4 Gold Piece, J-1661, P-1861, R-6+ Coiled Hair, Copper, Reeded edge, Gilt. Judd 1661. NGC graded Proof 62. One of the classic coiled hair designs by George T. Morgan. Boldly struck on both Liberty's tight hair bun and on the reverse star and legends. This is an extremely rare coin, NGC has only graded one example that has been gilt, and one that remains in the original copper format. PCGS has not graded any of these, and this is likely a high Rarity-7 with just a few known and some diligent pedigree tracing of the known appearances could soon connect the pedigree chains. Hazy gold toning in the obverse and reverse fields, nearly identical in color and surface quality to the J-1636 in this sale. A few minor hairlines seem to account for the grade, as no other handling marks probably affect the grade. We note one tiny nose tick mark and a dark line above the C of CENTS on the reverse, and these should assist the buyer in locating previous offerings of this extremely rare pattern issue.
The $4 stellas are amongst the most storied coins in numismatics. They came about as an attempt to get the United States up to date with the decimal based Metric system, used by much of the world at that time, and it was hoped that adoption of such a coin would ease international trade. First issued in 1879 with just 15 struck, the $4 coins were available to Congressmen, who were entitled to a purchase one for the Mint's cost of about $6.50 per coin. These proved very popular, so the Mint coined 400 more pieces, of which about 265 went to Congressmen, with the remaining 150 coins eventually being sold to the public at $15 each. Additional pattern issues were proposed, like this 1880 with coiled hair, but the coinage was never adapted, the American people being no more ready for the metric system in 1879 than in 1975 when the government attempted to adapt it again. Perhaps in 2075?
A lovely example of this extremely rare pattern issue, and worthy of a true collector's cabinet. Color photo.
Estimated Value $15,000-20,000.