US Coins

1838 Seated Liberty half dime is "simply amazing"

The last of Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s five sales of the collection of D. Brent Pogue took place in Baltimore on March 31, and collectors will long remember the quality and diversity of coins offered. Pogue V was especially broad, encompassing early copper coins, a few Seated Liberty and Capped Bust silver coins, alongside some magnificent Draped Bust silver dollars. As Pogue wrote on his collection in his introduction to the catalog, “I have enjoyed the better part of 40 years building and taking care of the collections. She is one for the ages. I will miss her.” As these coins re-enter the marketplace they will each go on individual journeys and enrich the lives of their new owners.

Here’s a coin that re-entered the marketplace after a fascinating journey:

The Lot:

1838 Seated Liberty, No Drapery, Large Stars half dime, PCGS Mint State 67+

The Price:


The Story:

Pogue V featured a few Seated Liberty coins. One of the most gorgeous was this 1838 Seated Liberty, No Drapery, Large Stars half dime graded MS-67+ that realized $28,200. The color is electric with warm sunset orange and gold color at the centers, merging with cooler violet and blue hues at the peripheries.

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This year has two distinct obverse varieties, though as Stack’s Bowers notes, “While specialists explicitly distinguish between the Large Stars and scarcer Small Stars varieties, the latter is merely a lapped die state of the former, as just a single star size was used for all of the 1838 mintage.”

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The subject coin was last offered in a 2008 Heritage auction — then graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. as MS-68 ?, where it realized $37,375. Heritage then wrote, “A simply amazing example that confounds any explanation for how it survived in such an incredible state of preservation for more than 160 years.” A year before at Heritage’s 2007 Florida United Numismatists sale it brought a less-impressive $23,000.

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