By Charles Morgan with Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….
The Night That Was
On Wednesday evening, Stack’s Bowers, in a limited partnership with Sotheby’s, offered the second grouping of coins from the D. Brent Pogue family collection.
The second sale featured 105 lots and focused most of its attention on Capped Bust half dollars, Flowing Hair dollars, Capped Bust and Classic Head quarter eagles, and Capped Bust half eagles and eagles.
Headlining the sale was the 1794 “Lord St. Oswald” Flowing Hair dollar (PCGS MS66+), which brought US$4,993,750 after spirited bidding. Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics was the winning bidder. In addition to the 1794 $1, Pogue’s 1795 “13 Leaves” eagle (PCGS MS66+) cleared the $2 million mark, bringing $2,585,000. Rounding out the second sale’s million dollar coins were the “King Farouk” 1798 “Small Eagle” half eagle (PCGS AU55; $1,175,000) and the “9 Leaves Reverse” 1795 eagle (PCGS MS63+; $1,057,500).
In total, the sale brought $26,120,837.50, which is $808,106.25 more than Pogue I. That sale boasted 128 lots (granted 31 of them were half dimes – and one was a half disme).
At 26+ million, Pogue II exceeded Stack’s Bowers wildest expectations. Pre-sale estimates valued the offerings at between $14.1 million and $20.7 million dollars. At 26+ million, Pogue II bested the high estimate by almost $5.5 million dollars. Only 25 lots failed to exceed their high estimate, while only three missed their low estimate price.
After two sales, the Pogue’s have realized $51,433,567.75 for their collection, which Stack’s Bowers estimates to have a value of $250 million.
In the following article, we will take a look at Wednesday night’s results. Interspersed will be lot-by-lot breakdowns of every coin sold at Pogue II, presented with the percentage over or under the high estimate that each coin brought. CoinWeek’s Greg Reynolds, who was also at the sale, will report on the coins he was tracking in a special supplement to his weekly column.
Pogue II : Lot-by-Lot Breakdown High Estimate Price Realized % Over #2001 – 1807 Large Stars, 50/20C Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS65. Ex: Vermeule $35,000 $129,250 269.29% #2002 – 1807 Small Stars Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS65+ $75,000 $76,375 1.83% #2003 – 1807 Large Stars Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66 $150,000 $258,500 72.33% #2004 – 1808/7 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66 $30,000 $49,937.50 66.46% #2005 – 1808 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS67. Ex: Knoxville $45,000 $88,125 95.83% #2006 – 1808 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS67 $45,000 $99,875 121.94% #2007 – 1809 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66+ Ex: Earle, Eliasberg $30,000 $70,500 135% #2008 – 1809 IIII Edge Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS65 $20,000 $47,000 135% #2009 – 1810 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS65 $20,000 $25,850 29.25% #2010 – 1811/0 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS64+. Ex: Eliasberg $15,000 $22,325 48.83%
What is the Pogue Collection?
For those new to numismatics, know that the collection of coins assembled by billionaire Texas real estate moguls D. Brent and Mack Pogue rates as one of the most significant and expensive U.S. coin collections ever assembled.
The majority of the collection spans the first 40 years of U.S. federal coinage, including many of the country’s greatest rarities. In addition to that, many of the coins in the collection are the finest specimens known.
The combination of rarity and quality makes the public offering of these coins significant, not only to individual collectors, for whom this might be the only opportunity in their lives to own these particular coins, but also for the hobby as a whole, as the high profile of the sale transcends numismatics, garnering significant attention in the mainstream press. It’s this type of coverage that helps to legitimize the investment potential of coins and draws new collectors to the “Hobby of Kings”.
But more than that, sales like this are a celebration of the coins themselves. Each coin in the collection has its own story to tell. Q. David Bowers will tell that story in his forthcoming book The D. Brent Pogue Collection of American Coinage: The Definitive Sylloge. Information about Bowers’ “Top 100” can be found in his Treasures from the D. Brent Pogue Rare Coin Cabinet (2015).
To offer the collection to as many people as possible, Stack’s Bowers entered a limited partnership with Sotheby’s. The last time the two firms teamed up was in 2001, when the solitary legal-to-own 1933 double eagle was offered for sale. That coin brought $7,590,000.00, with the buyer having to pay the United States government an additional $20 in order to monetize the coin (the government’s long-standing policy concerning 1933 double eagles is that they were never monetized, never released into circulation, and were therefore property of the government).
#2011 – 1811 Small 8 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS67. Ex: Woodin, Clapp, Eliasberg $75,000 $94,000 25.33% #2012 – 1812/1 Small 8 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS65+(Finest Certified) $35,000 $70,500 101.43% #2013 – 1812 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS67. Ex: Eliasberg $40,000 $82,250 105.63% #2014 – 1813 50 C./UNI Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS65 $30,000 $44,062.50 46.88% #2015 – 1813 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS65+ $20,000 $35,250 76.25% #2016 – 1813 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS64+ $10,000 $25,850 158.50% #2017 – 1814/3 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS64+ $20,000 $32,900 64.50% #2018 – 1814 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66. Ex: Pittman $30,000 $30,550 1.83% #2019 – 1815/2 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS65. Ex: Dunham $150,000 $111,625 -25.58% #2020 – 1817/3 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS64+ $40,000 $35,250 -11.88%
Before the sale began, I sat with Stack’s Bowers President Brian Kendrella and Founder Lawrence R. Stack in the vestibule area located in front of the sale’s floor and asked them how they felt about things going into the sale.
I was in a sanguine mood and ventured that I saw three coins surpassing a million.
The 1794 was obvious, and had already surpassed 2 million before the start of the live auction; my other two choices, the Farouk 1798 half eagle and the 1795 “13 Leaves” eagle rounded up my list. The Farouk piece was my dark horse.
Neither betrayed a sense of nervousness or ventured a prediction but Mr. Stack did offer this chestnut:
“We’ve done all we could. It’s up to the coin gods now.”
More than 50 prospective buyers were on hand for the night’s proceedings, with many nationally-known dealers who were present for the first Pogue sale returning this go-round.
Many more participated online.
Additionally, at least two groups of buyers in attendance opted for the privacy of Sotheby’s “luxury boxes”. We surmise that at least two of the boxes were occupied during the sale.
At the first Pogue sale, the far left luxury box was reserved for the Pogue family. After the sale, Brent Pogue answered a few questions–reluctantly, it seemed–from the gathered media and shook hands with a number of dealers, all of whom congratulated him and his family for their achievement. This time around, the Pogues were absent; before the sale started Wednesday night, Stack’s Bowers confirmed to CoinWeek that the Pogues would not be attending. Perhaps they were content to let the coins speak for themselves.
#2021 – 1817/4 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS VF35. Ex: Overton, Meyer $350,000 $282,000 -19.43% #2022 – 1817 “Comet Head” Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66. Ex: Earle. Eliasberg $35,000 $25,850 -26.14% #2023 – 1817 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS67 $40,000 $64,625 61.56% #2024 – 1817 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66. Ex: Earle, Clapp, Eliasberg $30,000 $58,750 95.83% #2025 – 1818/7 Small 8 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS65 $20,000 $22,325 11.63% #2026 – 1818/7 Large 8 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS64 $10,000 $14,687.50 46.88% #2027 – 1818 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS67 $25,000 $88,125 252.50% #2028 – 1818 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66+. Ex: Eliasberg $25,000 $44,062.50 76.25% #2029 – 1818 Capped Bust Half Dollar. NGC PF65. Ex: Green, Newman $75,000 $61,687.50 -17.8% #2030 – 1819/8 Large 9 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66 $30,000 $41,125 37.08%
The sale kicked off within minutes of its scheduled 7:00 p.m. Eastern start time. The focus of the first 40 lots was Capped Bust halves. David Rhedden announced lot 2001, the gorgeously toned 1807 “Large Stars” 50/20c Capped Bust half dollar (PCGS MS65; Ex: Vermeule), and it was off to the races.
That coin garnered exuberant interest, taking $129,250 despite a high pre-sale estimate of just $35,000. The last gem example of this variety to sell at public auction was in an NGC holder and brought $20,700 at a June 2014 Heritage auction.
Another half that brought “moon money” was the 1818 Capped Bust half in MS67. The high pre-sale estimate for this piece was $25,000. Previously, in an NGC holder, the coin was part of the collection of Phil Kaufman. Kaufman sold his collection through private treaty with the help of Heritage Auction Galleries in 2008. It was reported that the Kaufman collection changed hands for $1.8 million. The 1818 was not one of the highlights of that collection, and certainly wasn’t among the highlights of the Pogue half dollar set either, but it is the finest known of the date and brought 252.5% above the high estimate.
The highest price realized for a Pogue half on Wednesday night was the $258,500 paid for an 1807 Large Stars Capped Bust half (PCGS MS66, lot 2003). This coin brought just $149,500 when it was offered by Heritage in 2010. A CAC-certified NGC gem with a provenance of Colonel Green/Eric P. Newman brought a little more than that when it was offered by Heritage in November 2013.
In total, the Pogue halves brought $2,880,512.50 – more than $900,000 more than estimated. All of the coins beat their low estimate; six failed to exceed their high pre-sale estimated price.
#2031 – 1819/8 Large 9 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66 $30,000 $41,125 37.08% #2032 – 1819 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66. Ex; Randall, Garrett $30,000 $82,250 174.17% #2033 – 1819 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS64+ $12,500 $18,800 50.40% #2034 – 1820/19 Square Base 2 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS65+ $25,000 $47,000 88% #2035 – 1820 Square Base No Knob 2, Large Date Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66+ $35,000 $70,500 101.43% #2036 – 1821 Capped Bust Half Dollar. NGC PF65. Ex: Green, Newman $75,000 $52,875 -29.50% #2037 – 1821 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66+. Ex: Noblet $30,000 $64,625 115.42% #2038 – 1822/”1″ Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66. Ex: Pittman $30,000 $70,500 135% #2039 – 1822 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS PR65+ CAMEO (One of Two Surviving Proof 1822 Half Dollars). Ex. Cleneay, Norweb $125,000 $211,500 69.20% #2040 – 1822 Capped Bust Half Dollar. PCGS MS66 $30,000 $88,125 193.75%
Laura Sperber Would Not Be Denied
If there were a “buying opportunity” for dealers, it came in the form of Flowing Hair dollars. Of the seven coins offered, five missed their high estimate–and that includes the night’s headliner, the 1794 dollar.
But let’s not characterize the price of the 1794 Flowing Hair dollar as weak. It certainly wasn’t, and the $6,250 under Stacks’ Bowers high pre-sale estimate of $5 million is statistically trivial, especially when you consider that, at $4,993,750, the Lord St. Oswald 1794 dollar brought the third-highest amount ever realized at auction for a U.S. coin. Expect this position to change as the sales progress.
Bidding on the floor started at $2,600,000.
Laura Sperber, a phone to her ear awaiting instruction, was the first to raise her paddle, at $2,800,000. Kevin Lipton, in the front row, took the coin to $3 million. An absentee bid of $3,250,000 came in immediately after that and Lipton tried to cut the bid to $3,375,000 but was cut off by Laura Sperber, who called out “Three Five.”
But before Redden could acknowledge her, the absentee bidder had already raised the price to $3,500,000.
Sperber took a moment, explained the situation to her client, and defiantly raised her paddle.
Redden let the number linger, gavel held tantalizingly taught as he toyed with the crowd.
Melissa Karstedt, who would take over for Redden for the final leg of the night’s offerings, called out, “Bid!”
“Four million dollars online. Sometimes we love the internet,” Redden chimed in, with a chuckle. “Four million dollars… or hate it.”
“4,000,000. On the internet. Against you in the center,” he said with a shrug. “It’s against you.”
Sperber, the center of attention. Every expectation that she would take this lot.
“4,000,000 dollars. 4,000,000 dollars… far away on the internet. Now bidding at four… four million.”
Up went paddle #350.
“4,250,000. Thank you very much.”
I captured the moment from up high in the luxury boxes. A bird’s-eye view of Laura Sperber, She-Who-Would-Not-Be-Denied.
#2041 – 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. PCGS MS66+. Ex: Lord St. Oswald (Provenance to 1794) $5,000,000 $4,993,750 -0.13% #2042 – 1795 Three Leaves Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. PCGS MS66. Ex: Bullowa $800,000 $822,500 2.81% #2043 – 1795 Three Leaves Flowing Hair Silver Plug Dollar. PCGS MS65+. Ex: Lord St. Oswald $700,000 $705,000 0.71% #2044 – 1795 Three Leaves Flowing Hair Silver Plug Dollar. PCGS MS64 $300,000 $282,000 -6% #2045 – 1795 Two Leaves Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. PCGS MS65 $400,000 $282,000 -29.50% #2046 – 1795 Two Leaves Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. PCGS MS65. Ex: Atwater $400,000 $258,500 -35.58% #2047 – 1795 Three Leaves Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. PCGS MS64+ $350,000 $258,500 -26.14% #2048 – 1821 Capped Head to Left Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS66+ $350,000 $558,125 59.46% #2049 – 1824/1 Capped Head to Left Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS63 $60,000 $70,500 17.50% #2050 – 1825 Capped Head to Left Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS67 $450,000 $499,375 10.97%
All That Glitters Is Gold
Quarter Eagles took the stage for the auction’s next 20 lots. In Pogue I, early U.S. gold was strong. Early U.S. gold is scarce to rare to begin with, and the Pogue coins are among the most desirable of the type.
In the quarter eagle series, prices more or less met expectations. As was the case with the dollars, the quarter eagles presented opportunities for dealers to work the margins. Seven of the 20 quarter eagles fell within the range of pre-sale estimates, including three Pop 1, none finer pieces. One coin, the PCGS AU58 1826/5, finished within a few thousand of the low estimate–uncharacteristic for the Pogue sales.
But perhaps the strongest coin in the offering was the “Harry Bass” 1838 quarter eagle, which brought a stunning 88% over its $125,000 high pre-sale estimate.
This is a coin of mesmerizing quality. I was asked by a number of people at the auction and over the phone which coin from the sale that I liked the most. Leaving rarity aside, no coin grabbed my attention more than this 1838. The single finest example of the date ever graded by PCGS, it is (for lack of a better term) reference quality, and one of the coolest coins I’ve ever seen.
#2051 – 1826/”5″ Capped Head to Left Quarter Eagle. PCGS AU58 $60,000 $47,000 -21.67% #2052 – 1827 Capped Head to Left Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS65. Ex: Bareford $200,000 $152,750 -23.63% #2053 – 1829 Small Diameter Capped Head to Left Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS65 $150,000 $105,750 -29.50% #2054 – 1830 Small Diameter Capped Head to Left Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS65. Ex: Garrett $75,000 $76,375 1.83% #2055 – 1831 Small Diameter Capped Head to Left Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS67 $300,000 $352,500 17.50% #2056 – 1833 Small Diameter Capped Head to Left Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS66+ $200,000 $176,250 -11.88% #2057 – 1833 Small Diameter Capped Head to Left Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS66. Ex: Stack $175,000 $129,250 -26.14% #2058 – 1834 Classic Head Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS65 $50,000 $47,000 -6% #2059 – 1834 Classic Head Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS65+. Ex: Jung $50,000 $88,125 76.25% #2060 – 1835 Classic Head Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS65+ $75,000 $52,875 -29.50%
Grading coins is a matter of compromise. Two of the Pogue quarter eagles illustrate this quite clearly: the Pogue 1833 quarter eagle in PCGS MS66+ (Lot 2056), and the Pogue 1833 quarter eagle in PCGS MS66 (Lot 2057).
The 66+ has better surfaces but a poorer strike. The 66 has prooflike fields, shows a few minor marks, and has a much more complete strike.
The Pogues must have been as split on these two coins as we are. Both brought on the low end of pre-sale estimates, but one has to wonder if the winning bidder for the 66 thought that he got the stronger coin. We could go either way.
#2061 – 1836 Classic Head Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS65+. Ex: Bass $50,000 $55,812.50 11.63% #2062 – 1836 Classic Head Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS65+ $50,000 $55,812.50 11.63% #2063 – 1836 Head of 1837, Block 8 Classic Head Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS66. Ex: Bareford, Bass $90,000 $61,687.50 -31.46% #2064 – 1837 Classic Head Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS65 $35,000 $58,750 67.86% #2065 – 1838 Classic Head Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS67. Ex: Bass $125,000 $235,000 88% #2066 – 1839-C Classic Head Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS62. Ex: Gaskill $30,000 $44,062.50 46.88% #2067 – 1839-D Classic Head Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS64. Ex: Bass $60,000 $105,750 76.25% #2068 – 1839-O Classic Head Quarter Eagle. PCGS MS65. Akers Plate Coin $75,000 $76,375 1.83% #2069 – 1795 Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS65. Ex: Garrett $450,000 $646,250 43.61% #2070 – 1795 Small Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS63+ $200,000 $211,500 5.75%
Taken as a whole, the strongest coins at Pogue II were the half dollars, the half eagles, and the eagles. A majority of the half eagles brought 25% to 40% over their respective high estimates.
As mentioned, the “King Farouk” 1798 Small Eagle half eagle (PCGS AU55) brought $1,175,000. Stack’s Bowers had the coin going for between $550,000 and $750,000.
Struck with the small eagle motif a year after the large eagle was introduced, this is one of the great curiosities in the five-dollar gold series. Impossibly rare, only seven examples are known, and three of those are in institutional collections. The status of most of the remaining pieces is not publicly known. The Pogue coin had been off the market since 1979, and its appearance in Pogue II may have been the only chance its buyer would have ever had to pick up this important rarity.
That being said, it’s no surprise that the finest known example of such a mysterious issue went for a million plus.
Of the 20 half eagles offered, only five fell within their pre-sale estimate range. They were the “Naftzger” 1796/5 (Lot 2071), the 1795 Bass Dannreuther-15 in PCGS MS64 (Lot 2075), the “J.F. Bell/ Amon Carter” 1797/5 (Lot 2076), the “Small 8” 1798 (Lot 2079), and the “Earle” 1802/1 in PCGS MS66 (Lot 2082). Of the lot, only the 1802/1 really slipped through the cracks as it brought $211,500 against a $200,000 to $300,000 estimate. That coin is a Pop 1 with none finer and is the finest of about a hundred examples certified by PCGS. It seems that on this night, the smart money was on the truly rare over the conditionally rare.
#2071 – 1796/5 Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS62+. Ex: Naftzger $200,000 $152,750 -23.63% #2072 – 1795 15 Stars Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS61. Ex: Bell, Miles, Milas $200,000 $258,500 29.25% #2073 – 1797 16 Stars, Small Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS AU58. Ex: Brand $125,000 $287,875 130.30% #2074 – 1798 Small Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS AU55. Ex: Farouk $750,000 $1,175,000 56.67% #2075 – 1795 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. $300,000 $282,000 -6% #2076 – 1797/5 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS62+. Ex: Bell, Carter $225,000 $223,250 -0.78% #2077 – 1798 Large 8, 13 Stars, Narrow Date, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS63. Ex: Bass, Garrett $40,000 $58,750 46.88% #2078 – 1798 Large 8, 14 Stars, Wide Date, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS AU55. Ex: Bass $35,000 $44,062.50 25.89% #2079 – 1798 Small 8, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS AU58 $25,000 $22,325 -10.70% #2080 – 1799 Large Reverse Stars Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS63+ $60,000 $81,125 35.21%
Eagles were a big winner on the night. Three coins specifically beat all expectations and brought staggering prices.
Two eagles became million dollar coins: the 1795 “9 Leaves Reverse” (PCGS MS63+), which brought $1,057,500, and the 1795 “13 Leaves Reverse” in PCGS MS66+, which brought $2,585,000.
Add to those two the “Garrett” 1798/7 7×6 Stars eagle, which realized $705,000, and you have three ultra-rare early U.S. gold coins that brought more than double and–in the case of the Garrett coin–almost three times more than Stack’s Bowers’ high estimate.
But beyond these three coins, all of the eagles were strong. The only “bargain” (if you want to call it that) might have been the curious 1803 “Extra Star” (PCGS MS65). This Pop 1 coin brought $235,000, which is on the lower side of its pre-sale estimate. However, an NGC-graded MS62+ example sold at Heritage in January, 2015 for $43,475.
Conditionally, the Pogue specimen is a far cry from that near choice example, and considering the dearth of Mint State options graded by either service, $235,000 does start to look like a bargain price… one of the few to be had at Pogue II.
#2081 – 1800 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS64. x: Baldenhofer $75,000 $76,375 1.83% #2082 – 1802/1 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS66 $300,000 $211,500 -29.50% #2083 – 1803/2 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS66+ $300,000 $440,625 46.88% #2084 – 1804 Small 8, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS64 $40,000 $55,812 39.53% #2085 – 1804 Small 8 over Large 8, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS64 $75,000 $94,000 25.33% #2086 – 1805 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS65 $150,000 $164,500 9.67% #2087 – 1806 Pointed 6, Stars 8 x 5, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS65. Breen Encyclopedia Plate Coin $75,000 $129,250 72.33% #2088 – 1806 Round Top 6, Stars 7 x 6 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS65 $75,000 $102,812.50 37.08% #2089 – 1807 Small Reverse Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS65+ $175,000 $235,000 34.29% #2090 – 1807 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle. PCGS MS64. Ex: Clapp, Eliasberg $40,000 $61,687.50 54.22%
At the first Pogue sale, the far left luxury box was reserved for the Pogue family. That box sat empty this go around. With the blessing of Sotheby’s staff, I was able to snap photographs from Private Box “B”.
Coin dealers tend to exercise discretion when it comes to revealing the names of collectors, especially those who wish to stay out of the limelight. So we were unable to determine who the occupants of the other booths were, or the names of a hat-wearing gentleman in the front row, who actively pursued a number of lots. None of the dealers who talked to him during and after the sale revealed to us his identity. We were told he was a very active collector, who hadn’t been seen at an event like this for five or six years. Whether this is true, we cannot say, but there was a palpable feeling among the dealers we spoke to that Pogue II infused the high-end of the rare coin market with new blood.
And that takes us to the overall feeling of the sale.
It was brisk and upbeat. It’s 105-lot size, short by today’s telephone book-sized standards, felt just right.
Any more would have been exhausting.
The feeling from the first sale–that bargains could be had–was gone. The “malaise” that felt like it was encroaching on the high end of the market after Gardner, Newman, Partridge and Kendell seems to have subsided. Other auction houses that deal in high-end material report that the market is picking up.
And indeed, with what transpired on Wednesday night at part two of the Pogue sale, it’s safe to say that real rarities never go out of style. That should come as a relief to Stack’s Bowers, as the pressure to perform at the highest level over the course of eight highly-publicized auctions had to be daunting.
The lead-up to the first sale was about establishing the Pogue brand as the most historic, most important collection of our time. Everything from the design of the catalog to the type of foil used on the PCGS decorative label had to be considered.
Two auctions in, its safe to say that Pogue now has a life of its own. It’s its own thing and the market has warmed up to it.
#2091 – 1795 9 Leaves Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS63+ $450,000 $1,057,500 135% #2092 – 1795 13 Leaves Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS66+. Ex: Garrett $1,200,000 $2,585,000 115.42% #2093 – 1796 Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS62+ $175,000 $411,250 135% #2094 – 1797 Small Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS61 $175,000 $440,625 151.79% #2095 – 1797 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS63 $75,000 $152,750 103.67% #2096 – 1798/7 Stars 9 x 4, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS62+ $175,000 $258,500 47.71% #2097 – 1798/7 Stars 7 x 6, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS61. Ex: Garrett $250,000 $705,000 182% #2098 – 1799 Small Obverse Stars, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS64+. Ex: Earle, Beck $150,000 $164,500 9.67% #2099 – 1799 Large Obverse Stars, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS65+. Ex: Boyd, Jung $250,000 $352,500 41% #2100 – 1799 Large Obverse Stars, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS65. Ex: Bullowa $225,000 258,500 14.89%
It had been a long night of once-in-a-lifetime coins.
“It’s your last chance to buy something tonight,” Melissa Karstedt called out. It was clear to all that the spell was breaking.
Even after a last minute flurry of bids on the William Wooden 1804 Crosslet 4 Eagle (PCGS MS63), it was clear that many on the floor would leave empty handed.
With a knock on the podium representing the final hammer, the crowd began to stroll out and into the September evening air.
After exchanging platitudes and congratulations and grabbing some last minute footage, David and I packed up our gear and headed out ourselves.
By now its clear that the Pogue collection is a true numismatic thoroughbred, and that its first offerings, true to form, show speed, precision, and patience. Big coins have sold. More big coins will be sold. And the biggest coins of all haven’t even entered into the conversation. By the time we get to the end of 2017, everything will be left on the track – and that’s when we can look back and see this event for what it is.
But we need to keep in mind one key fact. There are those for whom the first two Pogue sales have already delivered. Dime collectors, quarter collectors, half dollar collectors. Any specialist who would have had to wait a lifetime to snatch up these coins already has a sense of how unique these sales are.
And for everyone else whose turn is coming – bear down and strategize now. The coins won’t come cheap.
So that wraps up my thoughts on the sale. I’d like to thank David Lisot for his help with video and Greg Reynolds for being on-hand and assessing the action on the floor for another one of his award-winning columns. Most of all, on behalf of CoinWeek and myself, I’d like to thank Stack’s Bowers for sharing history with us, and our readers, for allowing us the space again and again to talk about a topic that we love: coins.
Pogue II has come and gone. We’ll be back in New York on February 18, 2016 for Pogue III.
#2101 – 1800 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS63+ $90,000 $99,875 10.97% #2102 – 1801 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS65 $250,000 $217,375 13.05% #2103 – 1801 Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS64+. Ex: Stickney $150,000 $188,000 25.33% #2104 – 1803 Large Reverse Stars, Extra Star, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS65 $300,000 $235,000 -21.67% #2105 – 1804 Crosslet 4, Heraldic Eagle Capped Bust to Right Eagle. PCGS MS63+. Ex: Woodin. Adams Plate Coin. $225,000 $440,625 95.83%