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Rare gold coin sells for $2.75 million at auction

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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The 1880 Coiled Hair Stella is one of the rarest known coins in the world (Bonhams)


An extremely rare coin sold for $2.75 million during an auction on Monday, greatly exceeding expectations and making it one of the all-time biggest such sales in U.S. history.

Mining.com reports that the “Coiled Hair Stella” coin was minted in 1880 featuring a profile image of Lady Liberty. The coin contains about six grams of pure gold and was never released into circulation. On the back of the coin an inscription reads, “ONE STELLA” and “400 CENTS.”

"The 1880 $4 Coiled Hair Stella is one of the so-called white whales of the coin collecting world. They are so rare, they come on the market maybe once or twice, at most, every decade," Paul Song, director of rare coins at Bonhams, which auctioned the coin in Los Angeles, told Reuters.

“They are so rare, they come on the market maybe once or twice, at most, every decade,” Song said. “That particular gold coin, there's only 10 or 12 now, and most of these are in public institutions or private collections.”

The $2.75 million selling price is reportedly more than 66.6 percent higher than earlier estimates and places it in the top 10 of all-time U.S. gold coin sales.

Three other Stellas were sold at the same auction, though were of slightly different designs are were considered less valuable, according to Numismatic News. The entire 27-coin collection was worth an estimated $8 million before auction.

“That may not be a Monet painting, but in my world, that’s pretty amazing,” Song told Reuters.

Fox News adds that the coin was designed by former United States Mint engraver George T. Morgan. The idea at the time was for the U.S. to have its own international coinage in order to improve trade with European nations. And while Congress voted against approving the coin, an estimated 12 to15 sample coins were still produced.

“Few collectors have ever seen one, let alone had the chance to own such a numismatic treasure,” explains auction site Stack’s Bowers. “It has been years since a Coiled Hair Stella appeared for sale, and this one is as beautiful as it is rare, with nice cameo contrast nicely complementing the superb aesthetic quality. In short, it would be virtually impossible to replace the quality and rarity seen here, and it may be years before another Coiled Hair Stella is offered.”

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