US Coins

Pogue's lessons resonate for all collectors

This Mint State 64+ red 1804 Draped Bust half cent was discovered during the raising of a Boston building in 1981. It will be offered on March 31 when Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s presents the fifth auction of D. Brent Pogue’s collection.

Original images courtesy of Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

What lessons can collectors learn from D. Brent Pogue? On March 31, Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s will present the fifth sale of the Pogue Collection in Baltimore. The results will push the total for the Pogue sales near or above the $100 million level.

Though the high-value coins that make up the bulk of the collection are out of reach for most collectors, Pogue’s sustained passion for coins and excitement about learning is relatable to all of us who collect.

Pogue was introduced to collecting in 1974, and, as he shared in the catalog, “Since that day, there have been very few nights I did not fall asleep with a coin book.”

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In his opinion, “numismatists are born, not made.”

Pogue’s entry point to the hobby was the link between coins and history. In looking at a 1915 Lincoln cent, he asked himself, who was the president that year? How did the coin make it from Philadelphia to Dallas (where he lived at the time)? Who else has held it?

He wrote, “I like to think we were all put on this earth for many reasons. One of mine was to build a coin collection.” That purpose manifested in a magnificent collection to be long be remembered as one of the finest — if not the finest — ever assembled.

Pogue’s initial foray into schoolyard dealing of coins picked up in trades with classmates in the fifth grade was profitable, and he recalled, “Antiquity, history, art and financial reward. What a combination. It was the perfect storm for me. Like an astronaut getting clearance on the launch pad, I was a go.”

Crisscrossing the country to find the perfect coins for his collection followed. “Walking hundreds of miles through convention centers all over the country; countless flights; countless hotels; light night auctions; sore feet; sore back; phone calls; strategy meeting after strategy meeting; negotiations — some lasting years; victories and defeats,” these all led Pogue to ask, “Was it worth it?”

For him, it was.

Pogue acknowledges he had the funds to buy great coins, but that was just one part. “Knowledge, perseverance, confidence and opportunity” also contributed, along with “stubbornness, timing and some luck.”

But most importantly, there was a passion that fueled him for four decades to buy the best, and now today’s collectors will build on this legacy with coins carrying the Pogue pedigree.

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