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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

1880 $4 Stella Coiled Hair Cameo coin for auction at Bonhams Los Angeles

Bonhams will auction an 1880 $4 Stella Coiled Hair Cameo coin, estimated to sell for between $1,000,000-1,500,000, in the September 23 Coins and Medals auction. The coin is one of many highlights from the Tacasyl Collection of Magnificent United States Proof Gold Coins on offer, a 27-strong selection assembled by a private collector of nearly every major American gold coin design in proof between 1836 and 1915.

Stella coins were briefly produced between 1879-1880, in an ill-fated attempt to join the Latin Monetary Union (LMU), spearheaded by John A. Kasson, a former chairman of the United States House Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures. The coins were meant to contain an equivalent amount of precious metal as the 20-franc Napoleon coin used throughout Europe. Congress eventually rejected Kasson’s plan, but several hundred Stellas had already been minted. Rumor has it the coins caused quite a scandal when they began appearing in the jewelry of some of Washington’s most notorious madams.

Only 425 Stellas were produced in total, and none were ever approved for circulation. Stellas are therefore “pattern coins,” meaning that they were produced purely for the purpose of evaluation and not authorized for use as currency. Two different Stella patterns were produced, both featuring a profile of Lady Liberty and a star on the reverse. One type shows her with long, flowing hair while the other type features a tightly coiled updo.

The Tacasyl collection features no less than four outstanding Stellas, but it is only the 1880 Coiled Hair Cameo that commands a seven figure estimate. According to the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the coin on offer is tied for the finest Stella example currently known, and is considered the best preserved. With its rich yellow-red color, deeply mirrored surfaces, and naturalistic design, the extremely rare coin is virtually unimprovable.

“The $4 Stella Coiled Hair cameo coin is almost like the ‘great white whale’ for coin collectors, in that it has eluded so many of the best. Without a doubt, offering this coin and indeed the entire Tacasyl collection is the highlight of my career,” said Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Medals Department at Bonhams.

The Tacasyl Collection of Magnificent United States Gold Proof Coins will be offered on September 23 as part of the Coins and Medals auction at Bonhams Los Angeles. The auction will preview at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, IL, August 13-17 and Bonhams Los Angeles, September 20-23.

A complete catalog will be available online at