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
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
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
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
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