The 1825/4 Half Eagle
The D. Brent Pogue Collection is laden with "finest of the fine, rarest of the rare coins." Here is another, and what a spectacular showpiece it is. Graded MS-64, sharp, lustrous, and beautiful, this half eagle is the finest known by far. The other is the Kaufman coin from Marquette, Michigan, where it was nailed to a display board with three tacks. It was offered as EF-AU with marks on the reverse from the mounting. Still, due to the extreme rarity of this overdate, the Kaufman coin is a treasure.
American half eagles of the years from 1815 to early 1834 comprise the most rarity-laden era of any American numismatic specialty. Each and every date is a rarity in any grade, and many are exceedingly so.
The present coin has been off the market since we cataloged and offered it for sale in 1982, nearly two generations ago. The scene lingers in our memory today—in the chandeliered ballroom of the Saint Moritz on Central Park South. Those in attendance were a Who’s Who in American Numismatics, as indeed our first three Pogue sales have been as well. Likely, such a magnetic, galvanizing series of sales will never again occur. Participants are creating numismatic history that will echo for years to come.
When sold on May 24, this marvelous 1825/4 half eagle may be off the market for years to come. Opportunity is the key here. No matter what the price paid, the next owner will have a treasure—a combination of extreme rarity and superb grade—without duplication anywhere.
We congratulate the successful bidder.
W. Elliot Woodward, Numismatist Extraordinaire
While it cannot be stated definitively, it is most likely that the present Eliasberg/Pogue specimen was the first ever sold at auction. W. Elliot Woodward offered it in October 1864 in his Fifth Semi-Annual Sale, lot 1649: "1825 over 1824, Proof impression; exceedingly rare, the first offered at public sale." It can then be tentatively traced through the Heman Ely Collection, to Woodward’s personal collection, sold in his Kingdoms of the World sale in October 1884. Its next auction appearance, and this can be definitively linked, was in Henry Chapman’s sale of the Earle Collection in 1912. From there its path can be clearly traced through the Clapp Collection, the Eliasberg Collection and finally, to its current home in the D. Brent Pogue Collection (see provenance below for more information).
Woodward, the most accomplished and honored auction cataloger of his era, was called "the Lion of the Day" by the American Numismatic Society. With deep knowledge backed by a library of thousands of books on history and other subjects, he was the authority to turn to for answers.
Beyond numismatics Woodward conducted a pharmacy in Roxbury, Massachusetts, a short ride from Boston. His premises must have echoed Dickens’ Curiosity Shop, as he had on view and for sale antiques and other items.
Description of the Dies
The dies used to strike this coin are described below (by John Kraljevich):
Obverse: 1 (1825/4) closer to dentils than to bust on 1825/1; 1 equidistant from dentils and bust on 1825/4, providing a quick reference point. Overdate very bold, with the under-digit 4 prominent even to the naked eye. A ray from each of the following stars points at or near the center of a dentil: 1, 3, 4 [stars 5 to 8 not observed], 9, 12, and 13. Dentils with rounded tops and in most instances with spaces between them, similar to that on Obverse 2 of this year, but not as widely separated.
Reverse: Small Letters (used on 1825/1 and 1825/4). Upright of B (PLURIBUS) directly beneath upright of E (STATES). O (OF) over center and right side of N (UNUM). Tip of 2nd arrow ends below lower right tail of R (AMERICA); tip of 3rd arrow ends below left center of C. 5 and D close, D squat and significantly shorter than the 5. Prominent center dot on horizontal shield stripes above space between 1st and 2nd group of vertical stripes, this dot is an unusual feature that instantly identifies the die.
(Some links are speculative before its appearance in the George H. Earle, Jr. Collection):
W. Elliot Woodward’s Fifth Semi-Annual Sale, October 1864, lot 1649; Heman Ely Collection; W. Elliot Woodward’s sale of the Hon. Heman Ely Collection, January 1884, lot 837; W. Elliot Woodward Collection; W. Elliot Woodward’s Kingdoms of the World sale, October 1884, lot 1153; George H. Earle, Jr. Collection; Henry Chapman’s sale of the George H. Earle, Jr. Collection, June 1912, lot 2394; John H. Clapp Collection; John H. Clapp Estate, 1940; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, by sale, en bloc, via Stack’s; Louis Eliasberg, Jr., by descent, 1976; Bowers and Ruddy Galleries’ sale of the United States Gold Coin Collection, October 1982, lot 381.
Pogue Collection Publications
Limited-edition catalogs for the May 24, 2016, D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part IV are in print and are available for purchase while supplies last. Limit: one per person. To order, call 800-458-4646.
Also available are two deluxe hardbound books about the Pogue Collection.
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