US Coins

Pogue coins make a March return to the marketplace

The sole 1822 Capped Bust gold $5 half eagle available to collectors from just three known, from the collection of Texas collector D. Brent Pogue, is the standout lot at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ March 25 Rarities Night auction, with a price in the mid-seven figures anticipated.

Several other coins from the Pogue Collection are also returning to the block to again dazzle collectors in the Las Vegas auction.

The Pogue Collection realized $122,012,480 across a series of auctions by Stack’s Bowers, most alongside Sotheby’s, between 2015 and 2020.

Pogue’s collections of early U.S. coins were especially noteworthy. Among the most beautiful of Pogue’s coins was a 1797 Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollar graded Mint State 66 by Professional Coin Grading Service — now with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker — that realized $1,527,500 when offered at the first Pogue auction on May 19, 2015. It’s considered the finest-known of the Overton 101a variety.

The auction’s cataloger called it “the finest known 1797 half dollar, the finest example of a Small Eagle half dollar, and perhaps the most valuable half dollar in existence.”

Both sides show an extensive network of die cracks, which may help explain the rarity of the issue since the dies appear to have failed early in their working life, with Stack’s Bowers adding, “This die could have broken after this strike; indeed, it is a wonder it could strike this example.”

The Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollars of 1796 and 1797 are coveted as a short-lived design type since the denomination would resume in 1801 with the Heraldic Eagle reverse.

The Pogue example features gorgeous toning, with the 2015 and 2020 catalog entries both stating, “Both sides are alive with color, the obverse radiant gold and violet framed in pale blue and champagne, the reverse lavender and blue suffused with pale gold,” before concluding, “From arm’s length, this appears to be the most beautiful coin imaginable, lightly reflective but still showing full lustrous cartwheel [luster].”

Massive obverse die break

Another noteworthy Pogue coin that also features a prominent die crack is a PCGS About Uncirculated 53+ 1793 Liberty Cap cent that is considered by most early American copper enthusiasts to be the finest-known example of the Sheldon 14 die marriage.

The obverse is characterized by the linear die crack that bisects the obverse. Stack’s Bowers observes, “The left half of this obverse is on a slightly higher plane than the right, leaving this variety consistently more worn on the left side of the obverse than the right.” In contrast to coins struck from a die that deteriorates and cracks during use, the catalog states that the S-14 die “almost certainly split during the hardening process” since all known examples show this die crack.

Q. David Bowers wrote on the discovery of this particular example in his 1984 book United States Copper Coins: An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor, recalling, “In 1962, during a trip to England, James F. Ruddy, my business associate for many years, purchased from a non-collector a 1793 Liberty Cap cent in Uncirculated grade, or very close to it (experts have differed in their opinions).” When offered at Pogue V on March 31, 2017, it realized $235,000.

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