US Coins

1808 Capped Draped Bust quarter eagle brings $2.350 million

This 1808 Capped Draped Bust gold quarter eagle is highly sought as a one-year type. What is considered the finest known example realized $2.35 million in the May 19 Pogue Collection auction. Images courtesy of Stack's Bowers Galleries.

Images courtesy of Stack's Bowers Galleries.

Overall prices for the coins in the D. Brent Pogue Collection auction May 19 were strong, especially for the handful of gold coins at the end of the sale.

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. 

The final lot, presented nearly two and a half hours into the auction, an 1808 Capped Bust $2.50 gold quarter eagle graded Mint State 65 by Professional Coin Grading Service, opened at a bid of $1 million and then continued in $100,000 increments until stalling at $1.9 million. After a bidder placed a cut bid of $1,950,000 another bidder swooped in with a bid of $2 million, thus closing the sale by paying $2,350,000 for this coin and making it the most expensive coin in the sale. The price well-exceeded the $1,200,000 to $1,750,000 pre-sale estimate. 

It was an impressive coin, considered the single finest example (by a wide margin) of the 1808 Capped Draped Bust quarter eagle with the large-sized bust facing left. The type was issued only in 1808 with a low mintage of just 2,710 pieces and most examples today are circulated. Regular production of the denomination would not resume until 1821, and then in another design type. 

The Pogue example has been celebrated by numismatists for more than a century, starting with its first known owner — Lorin G. Parmelee — who acquired the coin before 1890. The catalog adds, "Abe Kosoff called it 'a dream coin, out of the famous Col. Green Collection,' further saying 'to own this gem is to own a prize, indeed.' Its virtues have been sung by David Akers, Jimmy Hayes, and John Dannreuther (who broke his arm while accompanying Jimmy Hayes to buy this coin in 1983; luckily, the seller, Dr. Herbert Ketterman, was capable of setting the fracture). David Akers kept a framed photograph of this coin on his office wall."

To futher document its importance, it has been used to illustrate the type in numerous books, including Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, 1988; Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth’s 100 Greatest U.S. Coins, 2003; and in multiple editions of Whitman's Guide Book of United States Coins.


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