In the 1870s the Congress decided that we needed a gold coin for international trade. (see Trade Dollar for the silver version) After much debate its was decided in 1879 that a few sample coins should be made. Called ”Stellas” Congress made three orders for the coins: 25 in January, 100 in early April, and 300 in mid May. Collectors tried everything to get a hold of examples, but the mint would not release any at any price.

Then the scandal broke out, It seems that the madams of Washington’s finest brothels had turned many of the coins into jewelry. Since they could have received them only from congressmen, the newspapers of the day had a scandal that would make a modern day politician proud, to write about. Today nice “Stellas” sell for between $40,000 - $60,000, and those that show tell tale signs of have been jewelry are always among the first sold.

1879-80 "Stella"
Finess .900 gold remainder silver and copper
Weight 7 grams
Diameter 22mm

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