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The Marvelous Pogue Family Coin Collection, Part 20: Overview of the 5th Sale

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, markets, and coin collecting #373

A Weekly CoinWeek Column by Greg Reynolds …..
The fifth in a series of auctions of the Pogue Family Coin Collection will be conducted on Friday, March 31, in Baltimore by Stack’s-Bowers in association with Sotheby’s and in conjunction with Jay Edwards & Associates, an auction firm in Maryland. The Pogue V sale will be held at the Evergreen House, which is an important location for coin collectors. Before discussing the Evergreen House, an overview of the sale is presented.

This sale features large cents from 1793 to 1857, 19th-century half cents, and Draped Bust – Heraldic Eagle silver dollars dated from 1798 to 1804, plus some Liberty Seated coins and one Capped Bust dime. As there has been so much written about all 1804 silver dollars, the one in this sale is not a topic here. Background about 1804 dollars is included in a review of the sale of the Mickley-Hawn-Queller piece in 2013.

Also, the sale of the Garrett 1804 dollar by Stack’s-Bowers was covered in August 2014.

Prior to 2002, the Pogue Collection consisted almost entirely of pre-1840 gold coins and silver dollars, which were collected ‘by date’. Pre-1840 gold coins of all series have already been offered in the first four Pogue sales.

There are a few post-1840 gold coins in the Pogue Collection that have not been included in this Stack’s-Bowers series of five auctions. Among coins that have not been offered, there is an 1854-S quarter eagle and an 1854-S half eagle.

The Pogues started collecting silver dollars in the 1980s or possibly in the ’70s. At some point in the early 2000s, the Pogues decided to collect early silver coins of the other denominations ‘by date’. Flowing Hair half dimes, half dollars and silver dollars were struck in 1794 and 1795. The Draped Bust obverse design was introduced on silver dollars in 1795 and on the other U.S. silver denominations in 1796. For half dimes, dimes, quarters and half dollars, the Draped Bust obverse design was replaced by Capped Bust design early in the 19th century, though in different years for different denominations, respectively.

All bust coins were minted before 1840, except a few restrikes. The Pogues collected all such series ‘by date’. Other than Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle silver dollars and the 1811/09 dime in this sale, all the Pogue Collection bust silver coins were offered during the first four Pogue sales, as far as I know.

In terms of dates and major varieties that are often collected as if they were distinct dates, the Pogue Collection runs of bust half dimes, dimes, quarters and halves were almost complete overall. An 1811/09 dime was one of the few coin issues that seemed to be missing. The Pogue Collection Capped Bust dimes were auctioned on February 9, 2016.

On March 31, the PCGS-graded “MS-64+”, Gardner-Pogue 1811/09 dime will be offered. It was earlier in the collection of Gene Gardner and was auctioned in the Gardner II sale in October 2014, months after the announcement that the Pogue Collection would be auctioned. This 1811/09 dime was then NGC-graded as MS-65 and it not have a CAC sticker. It remains to be seen whether it will be CAC-approved at the MS-64 level.

The collecting of all early U.S. silver series ‘by date’ relates to the evolution of the Pogue Collection over time. A watershed event in the history of this collection was the acquiring of the Foxfire type set through Richard Burdick. Although a deal was made in 2003, this type set was not delivered to the Pogues until October 2004.

During the 2003 to 2005 time period, the scope of the Pogue Family Coin Collection was dramatically broadened. The Pogues decided to keep some Foxfire Collection coins and sell others, while building a type set of their own.

“Not long after acquiring the Foxfire Collection, Brent and his father decided to collect half cents and large cents by date,” recounts Richard Burdick. “They wanted to expand the scope of the collection, and the early copper in the Foxfire type set provided a great start for sets of half cents and large cents. They told me then that ‘only the finest will do,’” Richard emphasizes.

Before the purchase of the Foxfire type set, the Pogues had very few early copper coins. They had earlier purchased one or two, famous Naftzger large cents from Jay Parrino.

Most of the Liberty Seated silver coins in this sale are from the Pogue ‘type set’ that was in progress. The contents of the Pogue V sale offerings of dimes and half dimes, however, suggest a goal that was more complex than a type set, which requires just one coin of each design type. So I asked Richard, who was involved in obtaining coins for the Pogues from 2003 through 2014.

“The Pogue family collecting of silver coins and gold coins by date terminated with coins dated 1839,” Richard Burdick explains. “Liberty Seated coins before 1840 were collected by date and mint. I never found an 1838-O half dime that was appropriate for the collection,” Burdick notes.

So, Liberty Seated silver coins dated before 1840 were collected ‘by date’, while those dated afterward were collected ‘by type’. My article on the Garrett-Kaselitz 1838-O dime includes a list of design types of silver dimes. The nine design types of half dimes, along with an introduction to this denomination, are listed in a discussion of 1853 half dimes in 2014.

In the Pogue V sale, there are both ‘Large Date’ and ‘Small Date’ 1837 ‘No Stars’ half dimes, each of which is PCGS-graded as MS-67. The Pittman-Kaufman-Pogue Proof 1837 No Stars, Large Date half dime is PCGS-certified as Proof-66. There are two 1838 With Stars, ‘No Drapery’ half dimes and an 1839 With Stars, No Drapery dime – thus three business strikes of the same design type. The offering of 1838 to 1839 Liberty Seated dimes is similar.

An 1860 transitional half dime pattern (J-267) generally attracts attention when offered in an auction, because the name of our nation does not appear, not even in an abbreviated form. The only words or letters on the coin are LIBERTY on the obverse and “HALF DIME” in the center of the reverse. This pattern is PCGS-graded as “MS-67+”.

Before the sale, certified grades are being reported without analysis or conclusive commentary. Collectors are strongly advised to consult experts regarding grades and other issues relating to quality.

There were three 1837 ‘No Stars’ dimes in Pogue V. As with the 1837 half dimes, there is in this sale ‘Large Date’ and ‘Small Date’ business strike 1837 ‘No Stars’ dimes, plus a Proof 1837 ‘Large Date’ dime. There are four business strikes of the With Stars, No Drapery type: two 1838 dimes, an 1839 and an 1839-O. The PCGS-graded MS-67 1839 was earlier in the Foxfire type set.

There are seven Liberty Seated quarters and three Liberty Seated halves. As with the corresponding half dimes and dimes, there is more than one ‘No Drapery’ quarter. Last week, I listed design types of silver quarters. As Richard reveals, 1838 and 1839 Liberty Seated quarters were collected by date while later Liberty Seated quarters were collected ‘by type’.

A PCGS-graded MS-66 1838 ‘No Drapery’ quarter was earlier in the Foxfire type set. The PCGS-graded MS-65 1839 ‘No Drapery’ quarter was earlier in Oliver Jung’s comprehensive type set, which was auctioned by ANR in New York on July 23, 2004.

The vast majority of the early copper coins in the Pogue Collection are in this upcoming sale. Chain cents, Wreath cents and 18th-century half cents were auctioned in the Pogue III sale on February 9, 2016. There was no copper in the Pogue IV sale on May 24, 2016.

There are too many high-quality, half cents and large cents in the Pogue V sale to cover here. Many of the half cents, especially Proofs, are stunning.

As for sets of die varieties that were sold in the past, a set of large cent ‘by date’ could be conceptually extrapolated from each for purposes of comparison. I asked Denis Loring if anyone had such date sets in the same category as Naftzger and Pogue?

“The names that come to mind immediately are Beckwith, Sheldon, Newcomb, and Helfenstein,” Loring reports. The Beckwith Collection was offered by the firm of S. H. Chapman in 1923. Howard Newcomb’s collection was offered in 1945 by “Morgenthau”, which was owned and operated by Wayte Raymond and James Macallister. The Louis Helfenstein collection was auctioned by the firm of Lester Merkin in 1964.

In terms of quality, this is indisputably one of the eight, all-time greatest sets of large cents ‘by date’! The Ted Naftzger Collection is the all-time best. The Pogue large cents might rank considerably higher than eighth as a set ‘by date’. Much more research would be required before I would form a hypothesis.

This Pogue offering contains many large cents that were formerly in the Naftzger Collection and quite a few that were in the Henry Beckwith Collection. Furthermore, there are many that were previously in the Helfenstein Collection. While the Garrett Collection did not have the best large cents overall, it had some incredible 18th-century large cents and the Garrett name is well known to a wide variety of collectors of numismatic items.

Evergreen House, Former Garrett Estate

The first four Pogue sales were held at Sotheby’s headquarters in Manhattan. The fifth Pogue sale will be held at Evergreen Museum and Library, 4545 North Charles Street, in Baltimore. Starting around 1880, Evergreen House became the primary Garrett Family residence. In the middle of the 20th century, Evergreen House and additional Garrett properties were donated to Johns Hopkins University.

In the history of coin collecting, Evergreen House has tremendous symbolic significance and is certainly a landmark. For decades, the Garrett Family Coin Collection was held there (for background information about the Garrett collection and the Garrett family, please see my article on the Garrett-Kaselitz 1838-O dime.)

It is noteworthy that many coins that were in the Garrett Family Coin Collection were later in the Pogue Family Coin Collection. In terms of U.S. coins and pre-1793 American numismatic items, a portion of the Garrett Collection was sold by Stack’s (NY) in 1976 and the bulk was in four auctions conducted by Bowers & Ruddy from 1979 to 1981. Two of the four Bowers & Ruddy sales were in New York.

D. Brent Pogue, Pogue V Catalog, Evergreen Museum

In terms of very famous U.S. coin rarities, pioneer gold, American colonial items, and U.S. patterns, the Garrett Collection was one of the top half-dozen of all time, probably one of the three best. The Garrett Collection was different from that of Eliasberg in that completeness was not a prime objective. The focus was more on items that were historically important, of extreme rarity and/or intriguing for other reasons.

World and ancient coins in the Garrett Collection were handled by other firms in various contexts in later years. The Garretts certainly formed one of the most amazing and entertaining coin collections of all time.

Richard Burdick recollects:

I went to Evergreen House for the first time at the direction of Lester Merkin in 1973. He made the arrangements. I stayed there for three days studying as much of the Garrett Collection as I could absorb. Carl Carlson was the curator. He wore a pearl handled six-shooter pistol when he walked around Evergreen House. It was loaded. He brought the coins up to me from a vault downstairs.”

A Proof Restrike 1831 half cent in the Pogue V sale was earlier in the Stack’s (NY) Garrett sale in 1976. According to multiple auction catalogues, this half cent was acquired by T. Harrison Garrett before 1888.

An amazing 1793 Chain cent in the Pogue III sale was earlier in the Garrett Collection. Moreover, three of the most noteworthy large cents in this Pogue V sale were in the Garrett Collection: a ‘Head of 1793’ 1794, a gem 1798 and a very rare 1799/8. The Garrett-Pogue 1794 ‘Head of 1793’ large cent is a towering legend among early copper collectors, though is not widely understood and appreciated by coin collectors in general.

Before being in the Garrett Collection, this coin was in the collection of Lorin Parmelee of Boston. When the Parmelee Collection was auctioned in 1890, it was one of the three greatest collection of U.S. coins to have ever been sold. It remains one of the all-time greatest collections of pre-1840 U.S. coins. In some ways, the Parmelee Collection and the Pogue Collection are extremely similar.

1794 cent

This Parmelee-Garrett-Pogue 1794 large cent attracted much attention when it was auctioned by Stack’s-Bowers in January 2013, as part of the Cardinal Collection of large cents. If the Carter-Lustig-Knoxville-Cardinal 1794 dollar did not sell for more than ten million dollars during the same evening, the price realized then for this large cent, $881,250, may have been the most newsworthy result on January 24, 2013.

There is commentary regarding 1794 ‘Head of 1793’ cents–with a discussion of this same Garrett-Pogue coin–in my review of that sale. Brent Pogue was then the successful bidder in person.

There are many noticeable varieties of 1794 large cents. Most collectors of large cents, however, collect ‘by date’ – not by die pairing or readily apparent variety. In the 19th century, collecting ‘by date’ meant collecting by year, as varieties and mintmarks were then considered by most collectors to be of minimal significance.

By the 20th century though, collecting ‘by date’ really meant collecting by year and mint location, plus varieties that are readily apparent and considered to be of high importance. If a variety is extremely important, then there can be two different ‘dates’ of the same year, mint, denomination and type.

Of the three major varieties or subtypes of 1794 large cents, the ‘Head of 1793’ is the scarcest. Indeed, it is rare. Denis Loring estimates that “450 to 500 exist in all grades.”

1794 cent head of '93The 1794 ‘Head of 1793,’ the Head of 1794, and the 1794 ‘Head of 1795’ are listed as if they are distinct dates in most major guides, including the PCGS price guide, Numismedia.com, and 2017 North American Coins & Prices (Krause). A pressing point is that most people who collect early large cents ‘by date’ and not by die variety will demand all three. Even in Good-04 grade, a 1794 ‘Head of 1793’ cent would probably retail for more than $1,700!

This Parmelee-Garrett-Cardinal-Pogue coin is widely believed to be the finest-known 1794 ‘Head of 1793’ cent. The PCGS certification of ‘MS-64 Brown’ is not controversial at all. Furthermore, this piece was CAC-approved in 2012 or earlier. This coin has no serious problems and has few technical imperfections. While its color is not ideal, this coin is more than attractive overall. It is certainly superior to many other 1794 large cents, of other varieties, that are also PCGS-graded as MS-64.

When the Pogues purchased this Garrett coin in 2013, they already had a 1794 ‘Head of 1793’ cent, which was acquired at the sale of Walter Husak’s set on February 15, 2008, during a Long Beach Expo. The Husak piece is PCGS-graded as MS-63. Al Boka, a leading specialist in 1794 large cents, ranks the Parmelee-Garrett-Cardinal-Pogue piece as #1 and the Husak-Pogue piece as tied with three others at #3 among 1794 ‘Head of 1793’ cents.

While the Parmelee-Garrett-Cardinal-Pogue 1794 ‘Head of 1793’ cent is an important example of the connection between the Garrett Collection and the Pogue Collection, the large cents and half cents in this sale will be remembered more for quality than for rarity. There are many coins with excellent color and superb surfaces, coins that collectors of uncirculated Indian cents, Two Cent pieces and Lincoln cents can certainly appreciate.

© 2017 Greg Reynolds

Greg Reynolds
Greg Reynolds
Greg Reynolds has carefully examined a majority of the greatest U.S. coins and most of the finest classic U.S. type coins. He personally attended sales of the Eliasberg, Pittman, Newman, and Gardner Collections, among other landmark events. Greg has also covered major auctions of world coins, including the sale of the Millennia Collection. In addition to more than four hundred analytical columns for CoinWeek and at least 50 articles for CoinLink, Reynolds has contributed hundreds of articles to Numismatic News newspaper and related publications. Greg is also a multi-year winner of the ‘Best All-Around Portfolio’ award from the NLG, as well as awards for individual articles, a series of articles on the Eric Newman Collection, and for best column published on a web site.

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