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1880 Stella Sells for $2.5 Million
By Numismatic News
September 26, 2013

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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A gold $4 coin from 1880 sold Sept. 23 for $2.57 million at Bonhams in Los Angeles.

The 1880 Coiled Hair Stella, part of the “Tacasyl Collection of Magnificent United States Proof Gold Coins,” brought more than double the presale estimate.

This collection of 27 lots represented virtually every major gold design type issued in proof in the U.S. between 1836 and 1915 and realized $10,778,040 with every lot sold. The $399,186 lot average represents a world record for a rare coin collection on a per lot basis, nearly doubling the previous record.

“I am stunned and delighted. Having been entrusted with the opportunity to sell the Tacasyl Collection is personally one of the highlights of my career,” said Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Medals Department at Bonhams.

“The more I got to work with the collection I realized just how special each and every coin in the collection was. The fact that probably more than 75 percent of the sale was bought directly by collectors is testament to the phenomenal nature of the collection. The sale proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that superb quality and great rarity are a magical mix.”

The 1880 Coiled Hair Stella the coin was graded Cameo PF-67 by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. One of the very finest known, brought $2,574,000 making this Stella one of the 10 most expensive U.S. coins ever sold at auction. This price placed it in the company of the 1933 double eagle, the 1794 silver dollar, 1804 silver dollar, 1913 nickel and Brasher Doubloons, according to Bonhams.

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The Stella coin was originally minted as a universal coin of exchange that could be used with the Latin Monetary Union. They were patterns produced in 1879 and 1880 and never released into circulation. However, some of the pattern coins were sold to Congressmen.

The 1879 Coiled Hair Stella nearly doubled the previous high for the design and date while realizing $1,041,300. And the 1880 Flowing Hair Stella also doubled the previous record for the type selling for $959,400. The three-coin set sold for an aggregate price of $4,855,500.

Other highlights included the 1891 Proof Double Eagle (NGC Proof 68* Ultra Cameo), which set a new world record as the most valuable Liberty Head Proof Double Eagle ever sold at auction at $655,200. In addition, the Saint-Gaudens high relief double eagle (NGC Proof 69), one of the very finest in existence, set a world record for a proof high relief (beating its own record set in 2005) at $573,300.

The sale closed with the Double Eagles. The Type one Liberty Double Eagle, 1863 (NGC Proof 65 Cameo) brought $345,150 and set an auction record for the date. The last two lots of the sale, the Saint-Gaudens design double eagles both exceeded their pre-sale high estimates, the 1909 (NGC Proof 68) brought $184,860, and the 1911 (NGC Proof 68) brought $157,950.

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