US Coins

Pogue IV lives up to the hype: The Investment Column

A gorgeous MS-67 1831 Capped Bust gold $5 half eagle sold for $646,250 at the May 24 Pogue IV auction.

Original images courtesy of Stack's Bowers Galleries

Investors remain bullish about the future for rare coins.

This was evident in Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ and Sotheby’s Pogue IV auction, held at Sotheby’s New York City showroom on the evening of May 24.

While the two expected stars of the sale — the finest known 1804 Draped Bust dollar and the only collectible 1822 Capped Head gold $5 piece failed to sell — the remaining 61 coins in the auction sold for a healthy $16,722,600, averaging nearly $275,000 per coin.

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The fourth auction of D. Brent Pogue’s collection brings the total for the Pogue auctions to $85,318,218.50, making the Pogue collection the most expensive coin collection ever sold at auction.

Pogue’s 1804 dollar, graded Proof 68 by Professional Coin Grading Service, had a bid that with the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee totaled $10.575 million. Had the dollar met its reserve set by the Pogue family, it would have been the most expensive coin ever to sell at auction.

However, Pogue, like many collectors, decided that he appreciated the coin more than the money and is holding onto it, much to the disappointment of bidders and observers.

While “name brand” rarities like an 1804 dollar always bring attention, the Pogue sales showcase depth within series and show how bidders will stretch for the finest known examples of other tough but not as well-known issues.

An 1831 Capped Bust gold $5 half eagle graded Mint State 67 by PCGS is the finest of perhaps a dozen known of the Small 5D. reverse variety. Like most Pogue coins, it had an exciting ownership history (provenance) that travels back to the mid-19th century when it was as part of the George F. Seavey Collection.

It would later pass through well-known collector hands including Lorin G. Parmelee (who considered it Proof), John Story Jenks, John H. Clapp, and Louis E. Eliasberg Sr.

As the Pogue IV catalog entry noted, “Rare as a variety and fascinating for its technical aspects, this coin stands out for another reason: it is among the most beautiful and best preserved of all early half eagles.” It topped its estimate of $400,000 to $500,000, selling for $646,250.

The lot that followed was a PCGS MS-65+ example of the Large 5D. variety and it sold within its $150,000 to $250,000 estimate, realizing $235,000.

It is a testament to the depth of Pogue IV that nearly all of the coins would be highlights of any other auction and a sign of the rare coin market’s strength that, four Pogue sales in, the rare coin market continues to absorb such a deluge of top level rarities.  

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