The 1879 Quintuple Stella is among the most legendary issues in all of U.S. numismatics. Recognized for both its beauty and incredible rarity, it’s the larger sibling to the more prolific $4 Stellas struck in 1879 and 1880, with which it shares a similar obverse legend outlining their proposed compositions in metric units.
According to auctioneers, these issues were products of a global push to establish an international currency and stabilize the price of silver, which had been falling since the California gold rush in the late 1840s. Though the U.S. Mint issued several significant patterns in the 1870s and 1880s, none were ultimately approved for circulation and the idea of an international currency was abandoned by the U.S.
The Quintuple Stella is “much rarer” than the $4 Stella, according to auctioneers, who added only five examples survive of the large $20 pattern, one of which is forever impounded in the Smithsonian Institution.
The most recent example to sell was the Brand-Carter-Simpson specimen that realized nearly $1.9 million USD in a May 2016 auction.
The piece to be offered by Stack’s can be traced directly back to its origins at the U.S. Mint and has since passed through the hands of several significant numismatists, including J.W. Haseltine, Dr. Edward Maris and the Garrett family.
Stack’s first handled this incredible treasure nearly four decades ago as part of Bowers and Ruddy’s sale of the Garrett Collection, which was sold on behalf of the Johns Hopkins University. It is now certified Proof-63 Cameo by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and is “certainly one of the most beautiful survivors of this rare gold pattern,” according to auctioneers.