Four Dollar Coin Pattern, United States,1879

United States Mint, Philadelphia. Obverse: Liberty head with coiled hair, facing left; fineness around, date below. Reverse: Large star, denomination below. The four-dollar gold piece, or Stella, was the brainchild of the United States minister to Austria-Hungary, John A. Kasson. Kasson wanted an American gold coin that would trade on a par with a number of European counterparts, and the Stella seemed to be the answer.
Patterns were struck in a variety of metals, with two depictions of Liberty. George T. Morgan was responsible for this version, a goddess with coiled hair. Charles E. Barber contributed the second idea, a Liberty with flowing hair.
At the time, aluminum was popular as a pattern coinage metal. It was scarce, and it took a lovely impression from the dies. Experts call this piece a high Rarity-7, suggesting that four to six pieces exist.
[reference no. Judd 1640]
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
U.S. Mint
Physical Description
gilt aluminum (overall material)
overall: 21.6 mm; 27/32 in
Place Made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Coins, Currency and Medals
See more items in
Armed Forces History: National Numismatic Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Harvey G. and Lawrence R. Stack
Publication title
Glossary of Coins and Currency Terms
Publication URL
Additional Media

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