Until the late 1880s and early 1890s when a new chemical isolation process was discovered, aluminum was considered among the most precious of metals, far rarer and much more coveted than gold. It is difficult today to find adequate words to express how elusive pure aluminum was at the time this coin was struck. We have mentioned elsewhere in this catalog the story of how when the Emperor Napoleon served an imperial dinner of elaborate scale, he reserved the aluminum tableware for the most revered guests, reserving the gold service for those of lower estate. Until the early 1880s, aluminum was sold in troy-ounce quantities, and domestic yearly production was in the range of 1,000 to 3,000 troy ounces, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
~ Heritage Auction Galleries, September 20, 2008