By Q. David Bowers – Stack’s Bowers Galleries ……
Starring the finest known 1804 Class I silver dollar and the finest known 1822 half eagle
Now is the time to mark your calendar for Tuesday, May 24, when our D. Brent Pogue Collection Part IV sale will take place in the beautiful international headquarters of Sotheby’s in New York City. We invite you to be a part of numismatic history as it is made–as a bidder, buyer, or interested observer.
Front row center will be two rarities:
- The 1804 Class I silver dollar, the famous Sultan of Muscat presentation coin, of which more will be said below and,
- The 1822 half eagle, the finest of three known, the other two being in the Smithsonian Institution. This will be the first time since our sale of the Louis E. Eliasberg Collection of Gold Coins, 1982, that an example will be available at auction. Before then, the last time was 1906!
In the coming weeks we will be saying more about our May sale.
From all of us here at Stack’s Bowers Galleries, thank you if you’ve been following the first three sales. The coins, the events, the excitement have been unprecedented. And, of course, a nod goes to D. Brent Pogue and the Pogue family for having spent four decades carefully acquiring the finest collection ever formed in terms of overall high quality. The term finest known has appeared often!
Between now and May you might want to acquire the publications now in print and available for purchase, each a limited edition and described below.
The Finest 1804 Silver Dollar
The attraction of attractions among American silver coins is the D. Brent Pogue Collection 1804 Class I silver dollar. Proof-68 (PCGS), the finest known!
For well over a century the possession of an 1804 silver dollar in a collection has bestowed an aura of glory upon its owner. More than any other single coin, the 1804 dollar has attracted attention in numismatic circles. Books have been written about it and posters have been printed showing it. From time to time specimens have been placed on display at museums such as the Smithsonian Institution, the American Numismatic Association (ANA), the American Numismatic Society (ANS), and elsewhere. The exhibit of an 1804 dollar at a convention has always been a prime drawing card. Crowds gather around!
For a long time the 1804 dollar has been honored as the “king,” such as in the popular Illustrated History of the United States Mint, published in the 1880s and ’90s in multiple editions, which commented, “This coin among collectors is known as the ‘king of American rarities.’ ”
In their 1906 catalog of the Major W.B. Wetmore Collection the Chapman brothers noted, “There are many very desirable coins here offered, notably the Grand Old King of American coins, The 1804 dollar, a coin the possession of which has afforded Major Wetmore much pleasure for nearly 30 years.”
The grand prize for the deification of the 1804 dollar goes to B. Max Mehl in his description of the William Forrester Dunham Collection coin in 1941:
In all the history of numismatics of the entire world, there is not today and there never has been a single coin which was and is the subject of so much romance, interest, comment, and upon which so much has been written and so much talked about and discussed as the United States silver dollar of 1804.
While there may be coins of greater rarity (based upon the number of specimens known), none is as famous as the dollar of 1804! This is due to the fact that this great coin was the first coin of United States mintage to have been recognized as the rarest coin of the United States, from the very beginning of American numismatics, more than one hundred years ago. And it is today, as it always has been, the best known and most sought-after coin, not only among collectors, but among the public in general as well.
The history of this coin was recorded in a highly acclaimed book, The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, by Eric P. Newman and Kenneth Bressett, 1962, followed by the Tribute Edition in 2009. The presently showcased specimen, the finest known of all 1804 silver dollars, was the focal point of The Rare Silver Dollars Dated 1804 and the Exciting Adventures of Edmund Roberts, an award-winning book by Q. David Bowers, published in 1999.
The fame of the 1804 dollar is enduring. The Pogue coin is indeed the finest of the rare!
Although the 1804 silver dollars are dated 1804, such pieces were not minted until 1834. In that year it was desired to create special diplomatic gifts to present on behalf of Andrew Jackson, the president of the United States, to foreign dignitaries. As might be imagined, for each recipient a fine set of American coinage mounted in an appropriate case would be truly representative of the United States. Two sets—one displayed in a red leather case and the other in a case of yellow leather—are known to have been presented: one to the Sultan of Muscat (which included the Pogue Collection coin showcased here), and the other to the King of Siam.
To do this, chief coiner Adam Eckfeldt worked with others to assemble one each of the current coins, each in mirror Proof finish. These comprised the half cent, cent, half dime, dime, quarter dollar, half dollar, $2.50 gold, and $5 gold. The Coinage Act of April 2, 1792 had provided for these and two other denominations, the silver dollar and the gold eagle. By 1834 the dollar and eagle were history, as none had been struck since three decades earlier in 1804.
What to do?
Seeking to reflect the history of American coinage correctly, Eckfeldt proposed including a dollar and an eagle of 1804, but none were on hand. If they had been, they would not have been mirror Proofs, as that type of finish was unknown in 1804. Checking the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, 1804, he learned that 19,570 silver dollars and 3,757 gold eagles had been struck in that year. New 1804-dated dies for each were made with mirror finish, and examples were struck. What he did not know was that the dollars made in 1804 were from earlier-dated dies! Thus, there was no such coin as an 1804 dollar until 1834. However, there had been a mintage of 1804-dated eagles (an example of which crossed the block in our offering of the Pogue Collection Part II).
Early in the next year, 1835, two more Proof sets were ordered, intended for presentation in Cochin-China (today’s Vietnam) and Japan. These were ready, just before USS Peacock was set to carry Edmund Roberts and his contingent on assignment from the Jackson administration to visit dignitaries on the far side of the world. Thus, four sets were made. The last two sets were never presented, and what happened to them is not known.
In 1834 and 1835 no announcement was made that these sets had been struck or that 1804-dated dollars had been made for the first time. It was standard policy for the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint to include coins made for circulation, but not Proof or specimen pieces. The novelty of the 1804 was not noticed by numismatists at the time.
That soon changed. An 1804 dollar was illustrated in the 1842 book by Jacob R. Eckfeldt and William E. Dubois, A Manual of Gold and Silver Coins of All Nations, Struck Within the Past Century, which piqued the interest of Matthew A. Stickney, a Massachusetts numismatist who collected coins by date but did not have an 1804 dollar. He contacted the Mint, and in 1843 paid a visit and swapped some other coins for a specimen.
The voyage of Edmund Roberts, chronicled in fascinating detail in the book mentioned above, based on contemporary reports as well as the logbook of Peacock, resulted in the delivery of the first two sets. Marvelously, both 1804 dollars from these diplomatic gifts exist today, the Sultan of Muscat coin being the Pogue coin showcased here, while the King of Siam specimen resides in a private collection.
Beyond these, six other 1804 dollars made in the 1830s exist. These are known as Class I issues. Years later a few others were made using a different reverse die. These are known as Class II and III coins.
Provenance of the Pogue Class I 1804 dollar: Sayyid Sa’id-bin-Sultan (Sultan of Muscat); Mr. Eschwege, Liverpool, England; Glendining & Co.’s sale of the C.A. Watters Collection; June 1917, lot 227; Henry Chapman; Virgil M. Brand to 1926; heirs Armin W. Brand and Horace L.P. Brand to November 1933; Armin W. Brand; traded back to Horace L.P. Brand to August 10, 1945; Ruth and Charles E. Green, October 1, 1945; Charles Frederick Childs 1952; Charles Frederick Childs II custodianship; Charles Frederick Childs II family, 1999; our sale of the Walter H. Childs Collection, August 1999, lot 458, where it established the world’s record price for a silver coin, a record that remained until Stack’s Bowers Galleries set a new record in 2013 with a gem 1794 dollar.
For Your Reading Pleasure
- Treasures from the D. Brent Pogue Rare Coin Cabinet, by Q. David Bowers. 208 pages, color illustrated, quality hardbound. This tells the stories of 100 special coins from the collection. $39.95 plus shipping. Personally autographed by Dave on request.
- The 1822 Gold Half Eagle: Story of a Rarity, by Q. David Bowers. 128 pages, color illustrated, quality hardbound. $39.95 plus shipping. This also contains a wealth of information about other coins, people, places, and things–a “you are there” experience. Personally autographed by Dave on request.
For more information or to order visit http://media.stacksbowers.com/poguecollection/pogue-the-books.html
To Learn More about Pogue Sale IV
For more information on the Pogue Collection, visit our dedicated website at http://media.stacksbowers.com/poguecollection/index.html
Limited-edition catalogs of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part IV will be available for purchase before the sale. Limit one per person. To order, call 800-458-4646.