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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  • 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!
            • ryanco
              ryancoThursday, December 4, 2014 at 2:48 pm
              I would put a picture of the best soccer players and football players it would be worth 3 million dollars
              • laurend
                laurendThursday, December 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm
                If I was a mint engraver I would do a coin that has sports on it ! It would be worth millions of dollars !!
                • biancaa
                  biancaaThursday, December 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm
                  If I was a mint engraver I would make a teacher coin collection because teachers teach all day long and it helps you learn. They should definetly some appreciation
                  • lillyp
                    lillypThursday, December 4, 2014 at 4:14 pm
                    i totally agree! Espically our teacher she really deserves it! she is so generous and sweet
                  • katepa
                    katepaWednesday, December 3, 2014 at 3:31 pm
                    i i was a Mint engraver i would make a holiday coin collection(Christmas,Easter,Halloween) they would each cost 10 dollars and sell for about 500,000 dollars... i would make more collections than just this making the prices higher or lower on how valuable they are, i would help the world become a better place one child at a time i would build schools,and get orphans parents, and i would also give food,water, and shelter to families who need it... this would be great if anyone did this... hopefully someday some people won't be so greedy and share... that's also a reason why you should be thankful for what you have.
                    • aidansk
                      aidanskWednesday, December 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm
                      I would make it 10.2 million dollars and have poseidon because i love poseidon.

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