Rare 400 Cent American Coin Sells For $2.5 Million USD

By Meera Dolasia on October 7, 2013

CCSS NCSS-1 Grades: 3-5 Word Search

When the Los Angeles branch of Bonhams Auctioneers placed a rare $4USD gold coin up for bidding they knew they had something special. However even the experts were stunned when on September 23rd, 2013, instead of the expected $1.5 million USD, the coin fetched $2.75 million USD, placing it amongst the 10 most valuable US coins sold at an auction.

It was of course no ordinary gold coin but one that collectors call a 'white whale' - Coins so rare that they come on the market maybe once or twice every decade. This particular one, part of a 27 precious coin collection known as "Tacasyl Collection of Magnificent United States Proof Gold Coins", was an 1880 Coiled Hair Stella, only 10-15 of which are known to exist. Given that most are already in private collections or public institutions, the chances of one coming to market are extremely slim.

While that makes it rare and precious enough, this specimen made of six grams of pure gold is particularly so, because it has never been in circulation prior to this, and is so well-made and in such pristine condition, that it was graded Cameo PF-67, which is the best rating that Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, an independent coin evaluation company gives.

Designed by famous United States Mint engraver, George T. Morgan, the Coiled Hair Stella coin was one of two coins created in response to a proposed initiative that the United States introduce an international coin to trade with Europe.Though Congress ended up rejecting the proposal, about 15 of the Coiled Hair Stella coins were still minted.

Featuring an intricately carved Lady Liberty facing to her right with her hair coiled on the top of her head on the front, and an inscription that reads "ONE STELLA" and "400 CENTS" on the back, it was one of three Stella coins that were sold at the auction. The others however did not bid for as much, because the designs were slightly different and the coins, not as well-preserved.

While this gold coin is in the top ten it certainly is far from the most expensive one ever sold. That credit goes to a 1794 silver dollar called The Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, that fetched a whopping $17.2 million USD in January 2013!

Resources: foxnews.com, news.yahoo.com

Critical Thinking Challenge:

If you were a Mint engraver today, what kind of special coin would you design? Why?

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356 Comments
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  • ReaderSunday, February 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm
    It's boring and awesome!
    • zach1
      zach1Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 10:19 am
      i would not recmend this article because it was kind of boring.
      • alyssa1
        alyssa1Friday, February 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm
        What do you mean by boring just by your own opion not what someone else would think
        • laura1
          laura1Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 12:00 pm
          Zach, what was so boring about it? :)
        • zach1
          zach1Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 10:17 am
          if i were a mint engraver i wold design a coin of Colombis because he was the one to find america
          • laura1
            laura1Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 8:51 am
            I really love coins so I really loved this article it was really cool how only 15 were made it makes me want to go to a n auction It was most interesting that only 15 were made as I said before plus I didn't know people could just make coins and have them be worth so much money i might try it the coin of Laura! I used to at my preschool dig for coins and found some (a chinese lotus one)
            • alyssa1
              alyssa1Friday, February 6, 2015 at 12:13 pm
              Do you want a coin of laura for all the states?
            • tyriqFriday, January 9, 2015 at 7:37 am
              2.75 dollars is a lot of money
              • adelaidem
                adelaidemTuesday, December 9, 2014 at 2:19 pm
                If I were a mint engraver I would make a coin with a picture of my dog on it. It would be made of gold.I would make 7 copies of it and sell them for $1,234,567,890. I would make this coin because I love my dog and he was my first pet.
                • juliag
                  juliagThursday, December 4, 2014 at 6:15 pm
                  If I was a mint engraver I would have coins for every planet because there has never been a planet coin before. It would be worth $900,000. It would be colored because the planets are different colors.
                  • abigailf
                    abigailfThursday, December 4, 2014 at 5:13 pm
                    If I was a mint engraver the special coin I would make would be one with a family. A family of 10. 3 dogs 4 kids 2 parents and a cat. And all around them there would be beautiful ancient, ancient, ancient art. They'd be in like an art muesam. A muesam that aloud dogs and cats. The paintings would usally be OF animals(cats, dogs, horses, and farm animals etc........).. ANYWAY the engraving would have flowers etched around the rim it would be flowers then the picture. Also the engraving would be so detailed that even with a rusty, old , dirty coin, you'd be able to tell what it was. The reason I'd pick this is because, I think family's are sweet and dogs are my soft spot. Also I like cat's.
                    • lillyp
                      lillypThursday, December 4, 2014 at 4:21 pm
                      And my coin would cost 12,394 dollars
                      • lillyp
                        lillypThursday, December 4, 2014 at 4:18 pm
                        If i were a mint engraver I would put a pine on the front and write our school name on the back! i would also put our teachers name under the pine tree because she really deserves to have her name on a coin because she is really good a teaching! It is like her special talent!

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