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