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Q. David Bowers: The D. Brent Pogue Collection in Retrospect

By Q. David BowersStack’s Bowers ….
It seems like only yesterday, but it was in January 2014, slightly over three years ago, that Chris Karstedt and I went to Dallas to plan the presentation of the D. Brent Pogue Collection on behalf of Mack Pogue and his son Brent. Mack and Brent had been friends for many years. I have many nice memories of both attending a number of our landmark auctions–such as the 1979-1981 Garrett sales for the Johns Hopkins University and our October 1982 sale of the Louis E. Eliasberg Collection of United States Gold Coins.

Beyond that, Brent on his own has attended more of our sales and events than I can count! Along the way we became close friends.

Brent, who took the lead in forming the collection, was and still is a connoisseur par excellence. Starting as a teenager, time was on his side. He began in the right way–by assembling a fine working library of standard reference books and auction catalogs. As obvious as this may seem as a path to success, relatively few collectors do that. Today in 2017 many people will spend, say, $1,600 on a common-date double eagle, but if I suggest that they spend the same amount on books, only a few will do so.

Q. David Bowers. Photo Credit: Charles Morgan
Q. David Bowers. Photo Credit: Charles Morgan

In brief, there is no substitute for knowledge when it comes to forming collection. Although the Internet, price lists, and other sources beckon, there is no better way to gain knowledge than by purchasing books that give information about coin designs, minting procedures, and more.

Today if I were at a convention arranging a program, and a speaker was delayed in arriving, I could ask Brent Could you give a program on coins of the 1790s?, and he could do it superbly, without preparation.

As we conclude Part V of our D. Brent Pogue Collection auction series, there is still more to do with the Pogue family. This includes completing a book that will be an overview of numismatics from 1792 to 1840, the main focus of the coins we sold in the first five sales, plus glimpses of the American scene during that time.

When I contemplate the pleasures I have had in numismatics ever since I became a professional numismatist in the 1950s, I have had more fine experiences than I can count. A short list includes interviewing and taking notes on the lives of many famous numismatists such as B. Max Mehl, Abe Kosoff, James O. Sloss, Stephen K. Nagy, Ed Rice and others. Other highlights included buying of the Lenox R. Lohr Collection of pattern coins in 1961 for $100,000 (it had seven of the nine 1792 issues) from Abner Kreisberg; being on hand and taking notes during the great Treasury release of silver dollars in 1962 and 1963; researching and writing several dozen books (mostly with Whitman Publishing Company in the past 14 years); acting as president of the PNG and ANA, and being front row center in the historical research and marketing of coins from the treasure ships SS New York and SS Central America.

Then there are the great collections: T. Harrison Garrett and John Work Garrett; Virgil M. Brand (selections); Louis E. Eliasberg; Ambassador and Emery May Holden Norweb; and Harry W. Bass, Jr. To this list I can now add the D. Brent Pogue Collection.

Of all my assets, the best are friendships with coin people: collectors, dealers, scholars in numismatics and general history, Mint officials, along with staffers at Stack’s Bowers Galleries and other companies in which I have been involved. The Pogue family is high on that list as well. How fortunate I have been.

When I first started, numismatics was called the world’s greatest hobby. In my opinion, today in 2017 it still is.

—Dave Bowers

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