The only four known Quintuple Stella/Metric Double Eagle $20 denomination pattern gold coins that were struck as part of an experiment for the U.S. to produce coins to compete in international trade with coins of similar weight and size produced at the time by several other countries.
The "Stella" four-dollar and twenty-dollar pattern gold coins are the legacy of a proposed plan to make American gold coins conform to the international standard created by the Latin Monetary Union. The Union was an alliance of nations that agreed to create an international coinage standard based on the weight and composition of the current French 20 Franc piece. It was formed in 1865 by France, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland and had 11 members when it was disbanded in 1927. While the US never formally joined, several efforts were made to align US coinage to international standards.
In 1879 a four-dollar gold coin was proposed to Congress that would be approximately equal in gold content to the French 20-franc coins. This proposal was made to facilitate the use of American gold coins in foreign exchange in an era of prosperity and growing international trade. Hundreds of pattern pieces were produced but the Stella ultimately failed in Congress. The idea was doomed from the start because the coins would only approximate the value of the international coinage - a recipe for commercial disaster. Today, only numismatists remember the dream of a universal coinage that created these fascinating coins.
The Quintuple Stellas are from the Robert Simpson Collection, courtesy of Legend Numismatics.