Adrien's Blog

17 Mar 2019

Obsolete Coins: Stella ($4 Gold)

| Adrien

Adrien's Coin Blog

March 17, 2019

Obsolete Coins: Stella ($4 gold)

The Stella is a $4 gold coin "issued" in the unitedstates from 1879-1880. I put issued in quotationmarks because it was never actually issued. The Stella, like so many other coins, only made it to the pattern stage of production. Here is the story of the Stella.

The Stella was not made as a pattern for the demand of a $4 gold coin, as there was no demand. There was no need. This, right off the bat, is an unnecessary coin concept. But there was one thing that saved the idea: joining the Latin Monetary Unit.

Quick info: The Latin Monetary Unit was a 19th century system that attemped, and failed, to unify mutipleeuropeancurrencies that could be used in any one of the countries that signed. The Stella could also be used in America. Charles Barber designed the Stella.

The Stella was a concept that would be the $4 coin that could be used with the LMU. These patterns were created and singed during the period from 1879-1880. All of the examples that exist are proof strikes. Many of the high quality examples sell for hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars.Two different designs obverse were produced: one with flowing hair; in the other the hair is coiled. Both bear the same inscription: "★6★G★.3★S★.7★C★7★G★R★A★M★S★".The reverse star had the inscriptionsONE STELLAand400 CENTS, while the reverse rim had the legendsUNITED STATES OF AMERICAandFOUR DOL.There is one thing special about the Stella, it has the inscriptionDEO EST GLORIA("To God is the glory").

Five examples of a pattern quintuple stella denominated at 20 dollars were produced in 1879 as well. These coins used a modified version of the then-current Liberty Head (Coronet) design of the double eagle, replacing the stars on the obverse with "★30★G★1.5★S★3.5★C★35★G★R★A★M★S★", and the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse with the sameDEO EST GLORIAfound on the reverse of the stella.Only 425 examples of the Stella were made. All 1880 coins are rare; 16 or 17 examples are known.

So, what went wrong?

The LMU was looking a lot like it was going to fail and the Stella proved itself unnecessary because of the odd denomination. The half eagle was already in circulation and it had been for decades.

The Stella was bound to fail from the begining.

Let me know what you think about this coin in the comments!

Thank you!



I. R. Bama

Level 5

I learned so much about the Stella I never knew. Wow, thanks!


Level 4

Very nice coin ... and very nice blog. Thank you!


Level 6

Gorgeous. The coiled hair is my fav Liberty. I once saw a set of Stellas in all metals, gold, aluminum, copper.


Level 6

Not a fan to be honest, the design is very pedestrian to me and it just seems like it was an experiment with no legitimate need. I do appreciate the write-up however, it is always fun to be reminded of both the successes and failures during the history of coin production.


Level 7

Can't beat a coin like that. Maybe if I had the money. Great coin. Good history. Thanks.


Level 6

LNice looking coin with an interesting history and thought behind it.


Level 6

Beautiful coin and nice review. There's also a good article about the "Stella" in CoinWorld Weekly March 11th issue. Thanks for your blog! ; )


Level 6

It's a beautiful coin. Would you please add a bibliography so I can research this more?

This was a useless coin, but I love it now. I like the quirky 400 cents part on the reverse.

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