US Coins

Pogue V sale will be the collection's largest to date

On March 31 Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s will present Part V in the series of auctions titled “Masterpieces of United States Coinage” from the collection of D. Brent Pogue. The sale will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Evergreen Museum and Library in Baltimore, concurrent with the Spring Whitman Baltimore Expo, March 30 to April 2.

With 232 lots, Pogue V is the largest of the Pogue auctions and the bulk of it — at least measured by number of lots — consists of early American copper cents and half cents. Coin World columnist John Kraljevich has spent the better part of two years cataloging the bulk of the Pogue collection, and as he observed in the catalog, “There is no field of American numismatics that has passed along an institutional memory and oral tradition like large cents.” Kraljevich adds, “The stories, passion, etiquette, and fraternity that surround the large cents descended in a direct person to person string from the 1850s to today, creating a numismatic community like few others.”

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Among the most impressive of Pogue’s early coppers is a 1794 Liberty Cap cent graded Mint State 67 red and brown by Professional Coin Grading Service. The variety is a common one — Sheldon 24 in William H. Sheldon’s reference to the series — but it is the finest known example of the beloved “Apple Cheek” variety. As the catalog notes, even among the Pogue coins, “this coin stands out for its remarkable condition and magnificent aesthetic appeal.”

The variety is easily identified due to the “exceptionally rounded, full cheeks ... by which collectors recognize it easily,” which Sheldon recorded in his book Early American Cents. He would also describe the present example as “numismatic gem in almost full brilliance.” Among the more recent acquisitions in the Pogue Collection, it was last offered at an August 2014 Heritage auction where it sold for $352,500. In Pogue V it carries a conservative estimate of $200,000 to $250,000.

The auction has some coins with tantalizing low estimates that should appeal to collectors of not-unlimited means, like an 1852 Coronet cent graded MS-65 red and brown estimated at $1,000 to $1,500 and several Seated Liberty half dimes, including an 1839 Seated Liberty, No Drapery example graded MS-66 estimated at $2,000 to $3,000. An MS-65 1858 Seated Liberty dime with “vibrant electric blue, gold and amber iridescence” is particularly gorgeous and estimated at $1,500 to $2,000.

Leading a select group of early silver dollars is the famed Dexter Class I Original 1804 Draped Bust dollar graded Proof 65. As Henry Chapman wrote in 1885, “There is no other coin in the United States series which has such a widespread and acknowledged great value and rarity, or which adds so much numismatic glory to a collection, as the King of American rarities — the 1804 dollar,” and his words ring true to collectors today. One of just eight known Class I Original strikings, it is the most expensive coin in Pogue V with an estimate of $3 million to $5 million.

Another standout among the early dollars is an MS-65 1801 Draped Bust dollar with a particularly sharp strike and deeply reflective mirrors that has led some to believe that it is a specimen example. Famed dealer B. Max Mehl remarked upon purchasing this dollar in 1950 that it was “as beautiful a specimen of the early silver dollar of any date that has ever come to my attention,” and it is estimated at $200,000 to $250,000.

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