This year marked experiments in the use of goloid alloys. Goloid was an alloy patented by Dr. Wheeler Hubbell and consisted of gold, silver and copper in various proportions. They were used in an attempt to make the silver dollar smaller and lighter and in the creation of the famous $4 gold piece or Stella for use as an international coinage. For additional information on the Stella, click here.
Charles Barber created 2 dollar and 1 Stella design as part of this testing. 15 sets were made for the Congressional Committee on Coinage presumably using the goloid alloys. These were apparently popular with congressman and another 400 sets were ordered which are believed to be of "standard" silver and gold. These sets were available to the congressman at $6.10. Unsold sets were later offered to the collecting world for $15. We would like to know if any of these pieces are truly struck in goloid alloys.
The 2 earliest auction sales for these sets include lots 393-5 in S.K. Harzfelds's June 1880 sale and the other was lots 1258-1260 of Scott Stamp and Coin's July 1880 sale. A set is in the British Museum, donated by A.F. Wheeler in 1894.
Sets were also produced in copper (about a dozen), aluminum (4 or 5) and white metal (unique ex RARCOA's N.M. Kaufman sale).
George T. Morgan also produced a set but his, apparently were not as popular as they are much rarer. To view Morgan's set, click here.
These sets were repeated in 1880.
Photos courtesy of Teletrade, Bowers and Merena and Jay Parrino's The Mint LLP.