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The Finest Prooflike 1811 Half Cent, Superb Gem Mint State

​​By Q. David Bowers, Founder

If you would like to own
a superb half cent of a quality that no one else will ever have (unless you opt
to sell it), this coin is front row center as a candidate. A superb gem,
prooflike in many areas, this is the finest graded of the variety.


The 1811 is the key date
among early half cents of the Classic Head type, and by a large margin. The
total population is estimated as fewer than 200 coins. In the marketplace, VF
is a high grade, and a sharp EF is exceptional. True Mint State coins are rare,
with perhaps a half dozen or so different examples known at various levels from
MS-60 upward. Of these the Pogue Collection coin is the very finest.

This coin has a very
interesting history, and the successful bidder will be a part of it.


This coin was discovered
in 1884 by a woman in Alexandria, Virginia, whose name is not recorded. It was
with a large group of half cents of this date, Mint State but in lower grades
from a numerical viewpoint. At one time, perhaps dating back to 1811, this coin
was singled out as being very special.

This coin was sold to the
Chapman brothers—S. Hudson and Henry—who include it in their auction of June
1884. The purchaser was Robert S. Hatcher, of whom relatively little is known
today. From there it went Allison W. Jackman, one of the leading numismatists
of the era, where it remained until Henry Chapman’s auction of the Chapman
Collection in June 1918. The buyer was Henry’s brother, S. Hudson, who since
the summer of 1906 had conducted his business separately.


The next owner was Howard
Rounds Newcomb, one of the greatest figures in American numismatics. Starting
as a teenager in the 1890s Newcomb, who lived in Detroit, jumped into the field
with enthusiasm. He was one of the first to study Morgan silver dollars by
varieties (such as the issues of 1878) and to collect Liberty Seated silver
coins by mintmarks. He is best remembered today as author of the standard book
on 1816-1857 late-date large cents, which we published in 1944.

From Newcomb it went to
B. Max Mehl in Fort Worth Texas, who sold it to Col. E.H.R. Green. From the
Green estate it was acquired by Burdette G. Johnson and went into the
remarkable collection of Eric P. Newman, later transferred to the Eric P.
Newman Numismatic Education Society. Over three years ago in was showcased in
Ira and Larry Goldberg’s Missouri Cabinet Sale, were it was purchased by D.
Brent Pogue. Now, we are all set to add another name to this illustrious
pedigree!


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