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Welcome to The D. Brent Pogue Collection Sale Part IV

By Q. David Bowers, Founder

Author: Q. David Bowers / Thursday, May 05, 2016 / Categories: Events

On behalf of Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s, I welcome you to Part IV of our auction program of the D. Brent Pogue Collection of early United States coins. More than any other sale held in the entire calendar of American numismatics, including our first three Pogue sales, Part IV comprises a group of ultra-rarities without equal. As a bidder, buyer, or interested observer you will be part of an event that will forever echo in the pantheon of this specialty. You will have a rendezvous with numismatic history. From the first important rare coin auction held in 1851 – the Roper Collection – down to the present day, there has been nothing comparable, not even close.

In the past two centuries an 1822 half eagle has sold at auction on only two occasions – the Harlan P. Smith Sale in 1906 and the Louis E. Eliasberg Gold Coin Collection held by us in 1982. Generations of American numismatists have been born, lived, and died without having the opportunity to own such a coin! There are not many coins of any kind for which the owner can also get a modern award-winning book specifically on that rarity!

As to the Sultan of Muscat 1804 silver dollar, Class I, a superb gem Proof and the finest known, it has been sold at auction twice. The first time was in London in 1917 and the second time by us as part of the Walter Childs Collection in 1999, the buyer at the latter being the Pogue family. Other 1804 dollars of lesser grade, and some of the Class III variety struck much later, have crossed the block now and again – often billed as “the King of American Coins.” These sales have generated more publicity for the 1804 dollar than any other rarity in the American series – countless columns of print and multiple books! But none can compare to the Pogue 1804 dollar.

The above said, the other coins in the D. Brent Pogue Collection Part IV on their own would be an event with no equal. There is no rarer series in American numismatics than half eagles of the 1820s. The Pogue Collection has them all – and uniformly the finest known or Condition Census.

Parts I through III of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, held at Sotheby’s international headquarters in New York City in May and September of last year and this past February, are now history. These dynamic sales, cataloged by John Kraljevich and coordinated by Chris Karstedt, Larry Stack, and the team at Stack’s Bowers Galleries and held in partnership with Sotheby’s, exceeded all expectations and will forever stand among the greatest auctions in American numismatics.

With Part IV to be held on Tuesday, May 24, you will again be a witness to our offering of the most valuable collection of United States coins ever sold, formed over the decades from the 1970s to the present.

Brent Pogue began the careful study of early American coins as a teenager in the mid-1970s. Soon after, he and his father, Mack, were familiar faces in auction galleries whenever the most significant or finest known examples were crossing the block. Always perceptive, Brent had many discussions with me and with others as he and his father, Mack, sought advice. Since then, whenever we have had a world-class collection, the Pogues have been buyers.

Brent placed emphasis on the early, formative years of the Mint, beginning with 1792 and continuing into the late 1830s. This was the era of hand craftsmanship of dies, of striking the coins on presses powered by two men tugging on a lever arm, and of ever-changing political and economic challenges. Each coin has its own characteristics; no two are alike. The pages to follow include insights into diecutting and mintage procedures in the early years, adding to the coin descriptions and creating a catalog that will forever stand as valuable reference.

In the early federal era, relatively few people in America collected coins. By fortunate happenstance, in the 1780s and 1790s there were many numismatists in Great Britain who collected coins, including a few who sought “foreign” pieces from America. The 1804 silver dollar in the present sale, presented to the Sultan of Muscat by envoy Edmund Roberts on behalf of President Andrew Jackson, made its first numismatic appearance in a British collection. It may be that some of the other incredible early silver dollars in the present sale were preserved in cabinets across the Atlantic.

 It was not until June 1838 that the Mint Cabinet was established (forming the basis of what is now the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution). After that time interest in coins grew in America, but it was not until the 1850s that it was truly widespread. Accordingly, the survival of high-grade coins from the 1790s into the early 19th century was a matter of chance. Many, indeed most of the Pogue Collection coins are condition rarities – available in lower grades, but exceedingly rare at the Choice and Gem Mint State levels.

The Pogue Collection is built on a foundation provided by those who have gone before – great collectors from the mid-19th century to the modern era who formed high-quality cabinets. Nearly all of the Pogue coins have provenances tracing their ancestry to earlier numismatists.

The Garrett Collection was formed by T. Harrison Garrett and his sons from the 1860s to the 1930s and in 1942 was passed to the Johns Hopkins University. This remarkable cabinet was consigned to us and sold from 1979 to 1981 when we worked with Hopkins curator Susan Tripp and her husband David (who is participating in the present sale on behalf of Sotheby’s). Brent and Mack were on hand to study, preview, and participate in that landmark auction.

When the Louis E. Eliasberg Collection – the only cabinet to have one of each and every date and mintmark of United States coin from the 1793 half cent to the 1933 double eagle – was auctioned by us in a series of three sales from 1982 to 1997, Brent and Mack previewed and carefully studied the coins and were among the most active and successful bidders. From the Eliasberg sales they acquired the only 1822 $5 gold half eagle in private hands as well as other impressive coins.

Harry W. Bass, Jr., a fine friend and numismatic connoisseur par excellence, specialized in gold coins and formed one of the finest collections ever, beginning in 1966 and continuing to his passing. Mack and Brent Pogue were front row center among the buyers in our several sales of the remarkable Bass cabinet. Over a long period of years Stack’s in New York City auctioned many “name” collections laden with treasures. Again, the Pogues were on hand to capture coins of exceptional quality and value. Connoisseurship was the guiding precept.

Year after year, sale after sale, the Pogues carefully bought the finest of the fine, the rarest of the rare. The result is the collection we now offer in a series of events, now past the half-way mark, that will forever echo in the halls of numismatics.

The present sale, the fourth in the series, includes remarkable half dollars from the 1830s, including the finest known 1838-O, of which only nine can be traced. Early silver dollars comprise incredible 1795 Draped Bust issues, notable examples of later years, and the marvelous Sultan of Muscat 1804. Half eagles are beyond compare – no private or public collection ever has included such a complete and remarkable run of high quality rarities.

Coin for coin, no other collection ever formed – not even the Eliasberg Collection or the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution – can compare or even come close to the quality of the D. Brent Pogue Collection coins in these series. The term once in a lifetime opportunity has never been more appropriate than now.

Welcome to our fourth sale. Our entire team looks forward to having you on the scene – at Sotheby’s in New York City or via the Internet.

Q. David Bowers

Founder, Stack’s Bowers Galleries