Catherine Bullowa 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar
Coin Rarities & Related Topics: News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #297…
A Weekly CoinWeek Column by Greg Reynolds ……
The Pogue II sale will be held on Wednesday, September 30, at Sotheby’s headquarters in New York, which is located at the corner of 71st Street and York Avenue. The Pogue II sale is the second of a series of auctions of the Pogue Family Coin Collection by Stack’s-Bowers.
Research suggests that the PCGS graded MS-66, Bullowa-Pogue coin [ Lot 2042 ]is the finest known of all 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollars. The second and third finest 1795 Flowing Hair Dollars, which have been publicly seen over the last fifteen years, are discussed herein as well.
There is an excellent chance that another Pogue Collection 1795 Flowing Hair dollar in this same auction, the Oswald coin with a silver plug, is the second finest known. The Pogue Collection 1795 ‘9 Leaves’ $10 gold coin, 1798 ‘Small Eagle’ $5 gold coin, and 1817/4 half dollar have been recently analyzed. (Articles about these may be accessed by clicking on words in blue.)
The Pogue II sale also features pre-1808 $5 gold coins, bust $10 gold coins, Capped Head $2½ gold coins, Classic Head $2½ gold coins, and a run of Capped Bust half dollars. Some general information about the Pogue Collection is provided in part 1 of this series.
All the Flowing Hair silver dollars in the Pogue Collection will be sold on Wednesday. As Flowing Hair Silver Dollars were minted for just two years and 1794 silver dollars are truly rare in all grades, 1795 silver dollars are highly demanded for type sets. A 1795 is not nearly as costly as a 1794 silver dollar of similar quality. The Oswald-Hayes-Pogue 1794 silver dollar is likely to bring millions.
There are coin buyers who collect early silver dollars ‘by date’ and thus seek both 1794 and 1795 silver dollars. Business strike, early silver dollars date from 1794 to 1803. Silver dollars dated 1804 are a separate topic as are the Proof “restrikes,” which are sometimes called novodels, of 1801, 1802 and 1803. The two 1804 dollars in the Pogue Collection, including the finest known Childs piece, will be auctioned in the future.
People who collect business strike, early dollars ‘by date’ usually seek three 1795 silver dollars: a 1795 Flowing Hair coin with three leaves under each wing of the eagle on the reverse, a 1795 Flowing Hair coin with two leaves under each wing, and a 1795 Draped Bust coin, which is the first issue of the next design type. Not only is the Pogue-Bullowa coin the finest known 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar with three leaves, it is of higher quality than all known 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollars with two leaves under each wing, as far as I know.
For more than twenty-five years, I have been examining gem quality, early silver dollars. I attended the Eliasberg ’97 sale and the Newman sale of November 15, 2013. Furthermore, I inspected the Flowing Hair dollars in the epic type sets formed by “L.A.,” Oliver Jung, and “Madison.” Moreover I covered the ANR auction of the Cardinal set of early silver dollars on June 30, 2005. I have seen countless 1795 Flowing Hair Dollars. The Bullowa-Pogue piece is above the rest.
Admittedly, my recollection of and my notes regarding the Earle-Eliasberg 1795 silver dollar are not crystal clear. The epic collection of George Earle was auctioned in 1912. Louis Eliasberg formed the all-time best collection of U.S. coins, which was auctioned in 1982, 1996 and 1997.
It may be true that Jay Parrino sold the Earle-Eliasberg 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar to a collector-investor in Nevada, during the late 1990s. As I reported, this collector sold a large number of coins to Bruce Morelan early in 2011.
According to Morelan, the 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar in this group was NGC graded MS-65. Bruce is “100% certain” that it is the Eliasberg coin that was sold as lot #2170 in April 1997. Morelan sold this coin at some point between the middle of 2011 and the beginning of 2013.
It seems that a subsequent owner re-submitted this Eliasberg 1795 dollar to NGC, where it was reholdered with a “SP-65” certification. “The coin in the SP-65 holder matches the Eliasberg plate. It is absolutely the same coin I owned that was NGC MS-65,” Morelan asserts.
The Earle-Eliasberg 1795 dollar remains a wild card that merits further scrutiny. As far as I know, no expert has suggested that the Earle-Eliasberg 1795 Flowing Hair dollar is equal or superior in numerical grade to the Bullowa-Pogue coin.
In 2005, Catherine Bullowa, a dealer in Philadelphia, included coins from her own personal collection, in one of her auctions. I did not attend that sale. My understanding is that her coins had never been certified by PCGS or NGC, until after this auction in 2005.
Reportedly, a New York area collector assisted the Pogue family by evaluating this 1795 Flowing Hair dollar in Bullowa’s personal collection. The primary numismatic advisors to the Pogues at the time, Richard Burdick and Larry H., were not involved. The then stunning price realized of $1,265,000 was an auction record for a 1795 silver dollar that still stands.
To the best of my recollection, a 1794 silver dollar had not sold at auction for as much. On June 30, 2005, ANR auctioned the Eubanks-Sommer-Cardinal 1794 silver dollar, which was then NGC graded as MS-64, for $1,150,000. In 2003, however, the Carter-Knoxville-Morelan 1794 silver dollar sold privately for $2.5 million. In January 2013, that same 1794 dollar, which is PCGS certified as Specimen-66, was auctioned by Stack’s-Bowers for slightly more than $10 million, an auction record for any coin.
Market levels for most rare U.S. coins rose markedly from early 2002 to the middle of 2008. After diving during late 2008 and early 2009, markets for rare U.S. coins rebounded, for the most part, by 2010. Prices for rarities have been, more or less, the same since 2010, though there have been a few market drops along the way, especially during the second half of 2014.
On November 15, 2013, the NGC graded MS-65 and CAC approved, Newman-Green 1795 Flowing Hair dollar brought $646,250, which is the second highest auction result. In April 2015, an NGC graded MS-65 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar sold for $423,000. The assigned 65 grade for that coin is controversial. On January 10, 2008, the NGC graded MS-65, Madison Collection, 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar brought $431,250 in a Heritage FUN auction. The “Madison-Thomas” 1795, though, sold for less in April 2009, $276,000.
Despite the population data indicating that more than ten MS-65 or higher grade, 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollars have been certified, most experts figure that there are only four to eight that are true gems. Richard Burdick has found that “there are five.” Are there any gems in museums?
“I don’t know of any gem 1795 Flowing Hair dollars in museums,” remarks W. David Perkins, who is the leading researcher of early silver dollars.” There may be another gem that is currently “unaccounted for,” Dave suggests.
“Mrs. Ostheimer went to London twice for the Christie’s The Lord St. Oswald Collection sale, once prior to the sale to view lots, and once to bid in person on the 1794 and 1795 Flowing Hair Dollars the Ostheimers won,” Perkins has discovered.
Perkins notes that the Ostheimers purchased the Oswald-Hayes-Pogue 1794 dollar. Indisputably, it is of higher quality than the other Oswald 1794 dollar, which became part of the Norweb Family collection and is currently PCGS graded as “MS-64” after having been PCGS graded as MS-63. It was listed as grading “MS-60/63” in the catalogue for the Norweb III sale in 1988.
“It is not widely known,” according to Perkins, “that Mrs. Ostheimer also purchased lot #140, a 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar,” at the Christie’s auction of the Oswald collection in 1964. This coin was not pictured in the Christie’s catalogue.
There were a total of three 1795 Flowing Hair dollars in the Oswald sale in 1964. Norman Stack bought one for his personal type set, which is the only 1795 dollar pictured in the catalogue. The firm of Spink’s purchased the second and Mrs. Ostheimer was the successful bidder for the third.
The Oswald-Ostheimer 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar “was stolen from the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ostheimer in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 14, 1968 and has never been recovered,” reports Dave Perkins. More than one hundred silver dollars were taken from the Ostheimers at that time.
As the Ostheimers owned many gem quality early dollars, including the Oswald-Hayes-Pogue 1794, it is plausible that the Oswald-Ostheimer 1795 is or was a gem quality coin. Many of the 1794 and 1795 coins in the Oswald Collection have been PCGS or NGC graded in the MS-65 to MS-67 range. The PCGS graded MS-67, Oswald-Husak-Cardinal 1794 large cent is an example.
There are mysteries surrounding coins that were in major collections in the past. The origins of the Bullowa-Pogue 1795 Flowing Hair dollar are a mystery, too. Catherine Bullowa reports having acquired it in 1965. Where was it during the previous century? Has anyone attempted to match images of it to pictures in Chapman auction catalogues from 1879 to 1921?
Bullowa-Pogue 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar
The Bullowa-Pogue 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar has been PCGS graded as MS-66 for many years. In terms of both eye appeal and technical factors, the obverse (front of the coin) rates in the middle of the 66 range. The toning is even, neat, and indisputably natural. Tan, brown and russet tones blend well. These are lighter in the center and darker in the outer fields. There are pleasing green tints and patches, here and there.
On the reverse (tail), there is a cool green undertone that is apparent when the coin is tilted under a lamp at particular angles. Also, the effects of die polishing give parts of the wreath and legend a neat, glossy texture.
This coin is technically pristine and scores amazingly high in the category of originality. John Albanese, Richard Burdick both agree that it is unlikely that this coin was ever dipped. “It certainly has not been dipped since 1950,” Albanese declares.
Though wonderful, this coin is not flawless. Hairlines on the highpoints of Miss Liberty’s face and micro-marks on the obverse field preclude a 67 grade for the obverse. On the reverse, there are few miniscule marks between the words OF and AMERICA. There are also a few small marks near the head of the eagle. For a silver dollar, such marks are minor. Most of the noticeable imperfections are mint-caused and are generally expected on Flowing Hair silver dollars.
On the technical level, the reverse almost reaches a 67 level, though it does not quite have the ‘eye appeal’ of a 67. Besides, the obverse counts towards two-thirds of a coin’s grade, more or less. Given that most surviving, uncirculated 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollars tend to have a large assortment of imperfections, this coin is tremendous.
Some writers have suggested that the Bullowa-Pogue 1795 is similar in texture to the Carter-Knoxville-Morelan 1794 dollar, which is PCGS certified as SP-66. This is not true. That coin is almost certainly a special striking.
The Bullowa-Pogue 1795 is definitely a business strike. The structures of the design elements and the satiny luster indicate business strike status. The reverse is semi-prooflike and the obverse is somewhat prooflike. It does not have the dazzling array of die finishing lines that characterize the Carter-Morelan 1794 and it was not struck on a specially prepared blank (planchet). Many collectors, however, prefer business strikes to special strikings. Dr. Duckor, for example, very much prefers business strikes.
The people who suggest that the Bullowa-Pogue 1795 might not be a business strike are harming the reputation of the coin because such misleading arguments deflect attention from the exceptional features of this coin. This is the finest known 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar, of any die pairing, and is one of the greatest of all silver dollars.
Oswald-Hayes-Pogue 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar
It seems that the second finest 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar, of any variety, is also in the Pogue Collection and in this sale! [ Lot 2043 ]Although it also has three leaves under each wing, it was struck from a different pair of dies than the just discussed Bullowa coin, and this coin has a silver plug. If a prepared silver blank (planchet) was found to be underweight, a silver plug was sometimes added so that the resulting coin was of proper weight or within allowed deviations. The Oswald-Hayes-Pogue 1795, with a silver plug, is PCGS certified as “MS-65+.”
Lord St. Oswald 1795 Silver Plug Dollar
It may be undergraded. In my view, this coin qualifies for a 66 grade, though ranks below the just mentioned Bullowa coin. I am not suggesting, however, that anyone remove this coin from its PCGS holder to seek an upgrade. It is impossible to precisely predict the grades figured by all graders at PCGS and at NGC in the future. Even dealers who submit coins for a livelihood, often the same coins over and over again, are likely to be gauging grading outcomes in terms of probabilities. No one can be certain of any one outcome. Therefore, I suggest the buyer keep this coin in its current holder, at least during the near future.
The imperfections are minor and are consistent with a MS-66 grade. Almost all 1794 and 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollars have numerous adjustment marks. For reasons that are not clear now, blanks then tended to be overweight and were scraped to reduce the respective weights. Such scrapings with sharp tools removed silver from the coins. If a coin was accidentally scraped too much, thus ‘over-adjusted,’ then a silver plug might be added. Unless adjustment marks are abnormally excessive for a Flowing Hair type silver coin or are particularly distracting, adjustment marks usually do not affect the grade of the coin. Hopefully, graders at PCGS did not figure that adjustment marks precluded a 66 grade from being considered for this coin.
There are minor hairlines in the obverse inner fields and a little scuff. I have seen more hairlines on a few 19th century silver coins that have been PCGS graded as MS-67.
On the reverse, there are imperfections between ‘STATES’ and ‘OF’ in the legend. There is a small gash near the right ribbon and a readily apparent contact mark above the eagle’s head. For a silver dollar, all these are not substantial. This is an amazing coin.
The obverse inner fields are a blue-russet-gray color. This coin has been dipped, probably long before the Pogue Family acquired it. The retoning is unquestionably natural. This coin has never been doctored.
Miss Liberty and the obverse outer fields feature a really pleasing green tint, with much beaming luster. All the design elements on the obverse are outlined with green-brown-russet tones, which are really cool. There are also a few brown-russet spots, here and there, which are normal and relate positively to originality. The contrast of the pale-green overtones on the design elements with the green-brown-russet outlines commands attention.
The colors on the reverse are similar. On both sides, there is quite a bit of normal ‘white’ silver color. This coin has much less toning than the already discussed Bullowa coin
The silver plug, in the center, is russet toned with green hues about it. There is much brown-russet color about the wreath and some of the letters in the legend. The reverse outer fields have sort of a pale russet overtone. Underlying luster is very noticeable. This is not a dark coin. It is brighter than most silver coins of the era, without appearing oddly bright. The toning on the reverse is especially well balanced.
I examined this coin carefully on two different days, under different lighting conditions. This is a MS-66 grade coin and likely to be the second finest known.
Newman-Green: Mid Range 65
The best Newman-Green 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar is NGC graded MS-65 and it has a CAC sticker of approval. The just mentioned Bullowa-Pogue and Oswald-Hayes-Pogue 1795 dollars could surely be stickered at CAC as well. In my view, the Newman-Green coin is the third finest known 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar to have been publicly seen over the past fifteen years.
The Newman-Green 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar scores very high in the category of originality, more so than many of the other Newman-Green coins. It is nearly flawless, in a technical sense. Although it was lightly to moderately dipped in the past, the retoning is certainly natural and it has never been doctored.
The shades of gray and russet are pleasing. The soft and ample luster is soothing. The green tones are memorable. It is very attractive overall and the technical components of this silver dollar’s grade bring its overall grade well into the middle or even the high end of the 65 range.
Although inferior to the Newman-Green coin, the Madison-“Thomas,” NGC graded MS-65 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar has neat luster and natural toning. Admittedly, I like it more than some other experts. I place it rather high in the condition ranking.
I have seen almost all of the certified 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollars that are certified as grading MS-65 or higher. In my view, the ones I mentioned are superior to unmentioned coins. There will always, however, be legitimate differences of opinion among experts. Collectors are encouraged to consult professionals, ask questions and learn about coins.
©2015 Greg Reynolds