Published September 24, 2013
A gold coin known to collectors as one of the "white whales" in the coin collecting world was sold Monday for $2.75 million at Bonhams auction house in Los Angeles, Mining.com reported.
The 1880 $4 Coiled Hair Stella is six grams of pure gold and was never released in circulation.
According to Stack's Bowers the coin was designed by famed United States Mint engraver George T. Morgan when there was a push in the United States for its own international coinage to enable easier trade with Europe. Congress rejected the initiative. But not before a handful were produced.
The precise number minted has been lost, but it is widely believed that no more than 10 to 15 exist. This particular coin that was sold is considered to be the finest certified piece ever auctioned.
"They are so rare, they come on the market maybe once or twice, at most, every decade…That particular gold coin, there's only 10 or 12 now, and most of these are in public institutions or private collections," Paul Song, the director of rare coins at Bonhams told Reuters.
Placing its rarity aside, the coin was graded Cameo PF-67 by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, which is the top rating given.
The sale of the 1880 Coiled Hair Stella from the "Tacasyl Collection of Magnificent United States Proof Gold Coins" exceeded early estimates by 66.6 percent and places the coin among the top 10 most valuable U.S coins sold at auction.
In January, a 1794 silver dollar called The Flowing Hair Silver Dollar sold for a total of $17.2 million. That coin is known as the first U.S. dollar struck and the finest known, Reuters reported.
The Coiled Hair Stella, which is six grams of pure gold, features an image of Lady Liberty facing to her right with her hair coiled on the top of her head. One the back of the coin, an inscription reads, "ONE STELLA" and "400 CENTS."
"The braided plait on top of Liberty's head is delicately and intricately engraved, and the portrait of Liberty is fully modeled and has a distinct individual personality," Scott reportedly said.
Among other sales from the Tacasyl Collection included an 1879 Coiled Hair Stella that fetched $1,041,300 and an 1855 Type 2 gold dollar that brought in $397,800.