US Coins

Half dimes lead off first Pogue Collection auction

The first of seven planned auctions of Dallas numismatist D. Brent Pogue’s now legendary collection kicked off in New York City on May 19. The auction of 128 coins, held by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in conjunction with Sotheby’s and titled “Masterpieces of United States Coinage: Part 1,” took place at Sotheby’s headquarters on the Upper East Side. 

In a panel discussion prior to the sale with Q. David Bowers, David Tripp and Lawrence Stack, moderator Christine Karstedt asked just what makes the Pogue Collection so special. Stack said that while Pogue was a student of numismatics and had the resources to buy exceptional coins, he also took advantage of opportunities in the marketplace. Tripp praised Pogue’s “uncompromising quality standard” and his collecting endurance, remembering a young Pogue bidding at the 1982 auction featuring gold coins from Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. collection, where Pogue purchased his 1822 Capped Bust $5 half eagle for $687,500. Tripp then said that Pogue should be etched into a Mount Rushmore of great collectors.

READ: When is the next Pogue Collection sale?

Immediately before the sale, Bowers took the podium and told the audience that 50 years from now people will continue to ask, what was it like to be at the first Pogue sale? The collection in total is estimated to bring more than $200 million and many of the greatest rarities — including two 1804 Draped Bust dollars and the 1822 Capped Bust $5 gold half eagle — will be in future sales.

That’s not to say that this sale lacked marquee rarities.  

The first lot of the 128 coins offered was a 1792 Flowing Hair half disme graded Mint State 64 by Professional Coin Grading Service. The catalog provenance notes that it was offered in two previous auctions within the last decade: a July 2005 Heritage auction (then housed in a Numismatic Guaranty Corp. MS-63 holder) where it sold for $316,250 and then at a January 2008 Heritage sale where it was offered as part of the Madison Collection (in a PCGS MS-63 holder) and brought $503,125. Pogue purchased the coin from dealer Larry Hanks on Aug. 11, 2010, and on May 19 it sold for a bid of $375,000 (including the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee the total came to $440,625), comfortably exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.  

The next lot, a gorgeous 1794 Flowing Half half dime graded Specimen 67 by PCGS was last offered publicly as part of Heritage’s October 2012 sale of the Greensboro Collection where it brought $367,775. As Stack’s Bowers notes, the coin carries several layers of significance as “a first-year half dime of the Flowing Hair type that represents the birth of the denomination and the design type as coined within the Philadelphia Mint.”

It is the only example to have been recognized as a Specimen striking by PCGS. The description explains, “While many early strikes show some level of reflectivity, this coin displays purposeful polishing of the planchet that reflects both planning and a high level of interest of this particular specimen’s aesthetics from before the die faces met its surfaces.” Carrying a pre-sale estimate of $350,000 to $450,000, the handsome half dime opened at a bid of $240,000 and sold to a floor bid of $260,000 for a total price of $305,000. 

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