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Gary?s Coins of the Month

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coinsbygary

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This post is the first of what I hope will be a monthly editorial on various coins from within my collection.

When I was a young lad, I spent countless hours combing through the ?Redbook of United States Coins? dreaming of the coins I wanted to collect. Two of many coins I dreamed of owning were the type ?1? and type ?2? $4 gold ?Stella?s? (Stella is the Latin word for star). Endearing me to both of these coins is the fact that they are an oddity, struck in gold, and are rare. The fact that they are also expensive to own did not deter me from dreaming but realistically, owning just one of these gems, let alone both coins is never likely to happen.

Several years ago, I considered buying ?Stella? copies to supplement my gold type collection. After all what other alternatives were there other than purchasing the real thing. This was until I discovered suitable substitutes from Liberia representing both coin types that were most importantly, affordable. With that, I purchased both coins for my collection.

The Republic of Liberia issues several coins as tributes to famous and rare United States pattern coins. Among them are the type ?1? and type ?2? Stella?s. The obverses of both coins are reminiscent of the original type ?1? Stella designed by Charles Barber, and the type ?2? designed by George T Morgan. The common reverse has a similar ?5? point star, or ?Stella? with the inscription, 1 Stella/4000 Cents. The Latin motto Deo Est Gloria (God is Glorious) is the same as the original $4 Stella and the face value of the Liberian coins is $40 rather than $4. The obverse lettering is very much like that of the original $4 Stella and has the coin?s weight and fineness delimited by thirteen stars. These two Liberian gold coins issued in 2002 are graded by PCGS at PR-69 DCAM and weighs 7.78 grams or ?-ounce AGW with a fineness of .999. The Liberian type ?1? coin has a mintage of 410, and the type ?2? has a mintage of 380. Needless to say, I am quite pleased with both these alternatives.

The 1879 and 1880, Type ?1? and Type ?2? $4 Stella?s have an interesting and somewhat scandalous story. In 1879, Congressman John Kasson introduced to Congress a new ?goloid? composition $4 coin as an international coin that would trade equally with the French 20 franc coin, the Spanish 20 pesetas, the Dutch and Austrian 8 florins and the Italian 20 lire. Several hundred of these pattern coins or ?Stella?s? circulated among the members of Congress. However, the Stella was a solution in search of a problem and never became a regular issue coin. It seems that Congress was quite content to allow the Double-Eagle to serve as a medium of exchange in Europe. In the early 1880s, madams operating from Washington?s most popular brothels were seen wearing Stella?s as jewelry and I?ll leave it to you to connect the dots. Some things never change just as the writer of Ecclesiastes states, ?There is nothing new under the sun.?

In summary, neither of these coins currently appears in any of my registry sets, but nonetheless, are integral pieces in my collection. I know these coins are a far cry from the real thing, but you must admit they are as close as you can get without owning the real thing. My favorite coin of the two is the type ?2?. Until next time, happy collecting!

Gary

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