REVISITING THE DR. JOHN E. WILKISON COLLECTION OF GOLD U.S. PATTERNS, Part VII – 1878 to 1879

Posted on August 20, 2018 by

This is one of the more exciting installments of this series because it centers around Dr. John E. Wilkison’s “Stellas” of 1879 and 1879. It includes not only all four year/style combinations of the $4 Stellas but the Quintuple Stella of 1879, as well. These are among the most famous and instantly recognizable of all U.S. gold patterns.

156882
1879 $4 Flowing Hair “Stella”, Judd 1635, Pollock 1833, Gold, Reeded Edge
PCGS PR67DCAM
This was not the Wilkison coin, but is included here as a representative example of the type

A little-known (or perhaps forgotten) fact about the Wilkison Collection is that he traded off his four 1879 and 1880 Gold Stellas prior to the sale of his remaining collection of 43 gold patterns to Paramount in 1973. Thus, it is difficult to determine if the picture of the 1879 Flowing Hair Stella in the Akers’ book is the coin Wilkison once owned or if it a representative image like the one above. If the picture is of Wilkison’s coin, I have been unable to trace it despite having an image database of over 150 different 1879 Flowing Hair Stellas. However, the image in Akers’ book should be instantly identifiable based on the presence of a spot above the left serif of the T of UNITED.

Pedigree: Dr. John E. Wilkison Collection. Prior pedigree unknown – traded along with his other three 1879 and 1880 Gold Stellas prior to 1973 – subsequent pedigree unknown

9323
1879 $4 Coiled Hair “Stella” Judd 1638, Pollock 1838, Gold, Reeded Edge
PCGS PR66+CAM
This was not the Wilkison coin, but is included here as a representative example of the type

As with the preceding coin, it is unclear if the image in the Akers book was the actual coin in Dr. Wilkison’s collection. Here again, the plate coin in the Akers book does not match any image of 1879 Coiled Hair Stellas sold in recent years (of which there are twelve demonstrably different examples). Akers does offer a tantalizing clue in his write-up for this variety: “A piece that was formerly part of Dr. Wilkison’s collection is together with his three other Stellas in a Texas collection…” Now, if we can only identify that collection.

Pedigree: Dr. John E. Wilkison Collection. Prior pedigree unknown – traded along with his other three 1879 and 1880 Gold Stellas prior to 1973 – subsequent pedigree unknown.

8194
1879 $20 “Quintuple Stella”, Judd 1643, Pollock 1843, Gold, Reeded Edge
PCGS PR64+DCAM

Unlike with Dr. Wilkison’s $4 Stellas, we know the history of this coin both before and after he owned it. Of the five examples known today, this is the finest. PCGS has graded it PR64+DCAM; David Akers called it finest known. Technically, this coin is a pattern for a $20 gold coin, but it is linked to the $4 Stellas because of the alloy data and weight on the obverse.

Pedigree: Virgil Brand Collection (one of three he owned) – Fred Olsen Collection – B. Max Mehl 11/1944:624, $3,850 – Dr. John E. Wilkison Collection, sold privately as an intact collection in 9/1973 – Paramount International Coin Corporation, sold privately on 4/9/1976 (as part of the intact Wilkison Collection) – A-Mark – New England Rare Coin Auctions 4/1980:391 – Holecek Family Trust – Stack’s 10/2000:1626, $258,750 – Bob R. Simpson Collection

9321
1880 $4 Flowing Hair “Stella”, Judd 1657, Pollock 1857, Gold, Reeded Edge
PCGS PR67CAM
This was not the Wilkison coin, but is included here as a representative example of the type

Once again, the image in Akers’ book does not match any pictures of the twenty or so known examples. In performing plate-matching, it is clear that several of the pedigrees are either inaccurate or need confirmation. Come to think of it, that may be a good idea for a future blog — tracking down all the Judd 1657’s.

Pedigree: Dr. John E. Wilkison Collection. Prior pedigree unknown – traded along with his other three 1879 and 1880 Gold Stellas prior to 1973 – subsequent pedigree unknown.

1546
1880 $4 Coiled Hair “Stella”, Judd 1660, Pollock 1860, Gold, Reeded Edge
PCGS PR65CAM
This was not the Wilkison coin, but is included here as a representative example of the type

Pedigree: Dr. John E. Wilkison Collection. Prior pedigree unknown – traded along with his other three 1879 and 1880 Gold Stellas prior to 1973 – subsequent pedigree unknown.

Next installment: the final four gold patterns from the Wilkison Collection. Trust me, we’ll be going out with a bang!

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