Chronology : 1800-1809 1820-1829 1830-1839
1808 A Flat Cap for Miss Liberty
2015 SOLD for $ 2.35M including premium
The other two coins are quarters : of eagle worth $ 2.5 and of dollar worth $ 0.25. These quarters were not user friendly to count his money. They were not popular and their manufacture was sometimes interrupted. In two cases, the production is stopped at completion of a year of design change, generating the rarest types of regular US coinage.
The first sale of the Pogue collection, on May 19 in New York by Stack's Bowers in association with Sotheby's, includes a specimen in exceptional condition for these two rarities. The 1796 quarter dollar was recently discussed in this column. The other example is the 1808 quarter eagle, lot 1128 estimated $ 1.2 million.
The eagle, half eagle and quarter eagle are the three gold coins defined by the Coinage act. At the beginning of the three denominations, Miss Liberty wears a turban like a Phrygian cap which had been a symbol of freedom during the War of Independence.
The eagle is discontinued after the year 1804, leaving the half eagle as the top denomination in production. In 1807, the drawing of the half eagle is changed. Miss Liberty exchanges her high turban to a flat cap. In 1808, the same design is applied to the quarter eagle that will be interrupted from 1809 to 1820 inclusive.
The 1808 quarter eagle in the first Pogue sale is graded MS65 by PCGS. This dark yellow gold piece is in a remarkable state of preservation of the metal, with nice coppery or violet tonings. Struck with a great clarity that reveals the defects from the die, it is by far the best surviving coin in its class, considered as a masterpiece of US numismatics for over a century.
1822 The Big Dream of the Half Eagles
2021 SOLD for $ 8.4M including premium
Half eagles of the capped head type caught their attention early on. Around 1820 their gold value had exceeded the face value. Their production was limited, the government was reluctant to put them into circulation, and a large proportion of the coins were redeemed and melted.
1816 and 1817 are out of the scope : no half eagle was released on these years. 1822 was known from a severely worn coin found by an executive of the Philadelphia mint who was already looking to fill in the gaps. The first craze applied to the 1815.
In 1864 the Seavey collection of gold coins was reputed complete. Parmelee acquired it en bloc, including an 1822 half eagle.
In 1890 Parmelee put his collection up for auction at the New York Coin and Stamp Company. His 1822 half eagle was to be the star of the event, symbolizing the sensational quality of his collection. Catastrophe : this highly desirable coin is a counterfeit.
A subterfuge is found. By chance, one of the managers of the auction house owns an 1822 half eagle, which is then somehow the only one in private hands. He substitutes it for the Seavey-Parmelee unit and auctions it to himself for $ 900. It is the most expensive lot of the sale, far ahead of the 1815 half eagle, already less rare at that time, sold for $ 235. The authentic 1822 will enter the Smithsonian collection in 1968.
Only one other 1822 half eagle has surfaced. It appeared in 1899, bought by Virgil Brand from a dealer. Louis E. Eliasberg acquired it in 1945 from a broker. It made the big dream come true : his collection is complete and unrivaled, since this authentic piece is the only one of its variety in private hands.
Coming now from the D. Brent Pogue collection and graded AU-50 by PCGS, it passed at Stack's Bowers on May 24, 2016, lot 4026. It will be sold by the same auction house in Las Vegas on March 25, 2021, lot 4149. Please watch the short video shared by Stack's Bowers.
The Only 1822 Half Eagle Available to Collectors— Stack's Bowers (@StacksBowers) March 23, 2021
1822 Capped Head Left Half Eagle. BD-1. Rarity-8. AU-50 (PCGS).
"I have the only one not in the hands of the government." - Louis Eliasberg, on the 1822 half eagle, 1975
Bid on Lot 4149 at https://t.co/BoJzSFkF9P. pic.twitter.com/7PybjguHcM
1825 The Short Reign of Constantine of Russia
2021 SOLD for $ 2.64M including premium
Constantine, who is the commander of the Polish army, wants the will to be respected. Nicholas prefers the order of primogeniture and pays homage to his brother. Constantine remains in his position, without deeming it necessary to make an official proclamation. The confusion worsens on December 14 with the attempted military coup of the Decembrists. Nicholas can no longer wait : he suppresses the insurrection and accepts the power.
Alexander, bored of power, had announced his intention to abdicate. His finance minister Egor Kankrin was not aware of his last wishes : the Saint-Petersburg factory was preparing the silver ruble of Constantine's reign. Curiously, the obverse has the effigy of the emperor, a tradition that had not been maintained under the two previous reigns.
Eight coins have survived, five with a lettered edge and three with a plain edge. This project has been classified as a state secret by Kankrin at Nicholas's accession and the chronology proposed by the experts for these various strikes is not convincing.
One of the plain edged coins was made with brand new dies, without any deterioration or rust. Graded Proof 62 by NGC and described as Choice Brilliant Uncirculated, it was sold for $ 600K including premium on January 15, 2004 by Markov, lot 776, the highest price recorded at that time for a non-US coin. It is estimated US $ 400K for sale by Stack's Bowers in Hong Kong on April 6, lot 50103.
In @stacksbowers April 2021 Hong Kong Auction we will be offering a 1825-CNB St. Petersburg Mint Silver Ruble Pattern graded as PF-62. Estimates are $400,000-600,000. View Lot 50103's Coins in Motion video at https://t.co/eyhK5zF2s5. Bid on the coin here: https://t.co/W3DSnLzSos pic.twitter.com/STXvbg788J— Stack's Bowers (@StacksBowers) April 2, 2021
1827 Quarter Rouble of Nicholas I
2013 SOLD for CHF 2.05M before fees by Sincona
narrated in 2021
An example described as brilliant uncirculated with attractive patina was sold by Sincona on October 14, 2013 for CHF 2.05M before fees from an estimate of CHF 80K, lot 533.
In addition to the auction history listed in the catalog for this specimen, I found two other events in a Russian database in English. One of them, apparently unsold in 1929, may be the same coin. The other, in 1927, was severely deformed by clipping.
The effigy of the emperor Nicholas I does not appear on Russian coins at that time, in accordance with the tradition established by Paul I and Alexander I. Russian coins dated 1827 with this portrait are novodels. However, it appears regularly on the Polish zloty and its multiples from 1826.
1834 The Muscat Eagle
2021 SOLD for $ 5.3M including premium
The diplomat Edmund Roberts had convinced the Sultan of Muscat and Oman in 1833 of the interest of signing a treaty of friendship and commerce with the United States. In 1834 President Jackson asks Roberts to prepare for this mission, to which he adds a visit to the King of Siam.
Among the diplomatic gifts, the Americans define a box that will contain an example of each of the coin denominations in circulation. The cumulative face value of the ten samples is derisory : $ 19.415. The double eagle did not yet exist.
The target is indeed to demonstrate the quality of proof coins produced in the United States. This prestige finish had been used sparingly since 1801 for silver, 1817 for copper and 1820 for gold. A 1821 quarter eagle graded PR64 Cameo by PCGS was sold for $ 240K including premium by Heritage in January 2007.
For the largest silver and gold coins, $ 1 and $ 10 respectively, President Jefferson suspended production in 1804 to curb speculation, while maintaining their circulation. For these two denominations, the factory decides to supply coins inscribed 1804 rather than 1834 which would be illegal. These coins will necessarily be a new build, to display the proof finish in mint condition.
Two dollars and two eagles were thus produced at the end of 1834. The eagles used for the obverse a spare die from the 1800s decade on which the engraving of the last digit of the year still had to be done. This 4 designed in the style of the 1830s makes it possible to distinguish between the Crosslet 4 variety produced in period and the Plain 4 variety produced for the Roberts mission.
In March 1835 two other destinations are added to the mission at the last moment. Two new 1804 eagles and two new 1804 dollars are minted. A tiny defect in the eagle die has been repaired in the mean time. There will be no further 1804 Plain 4 eagles, confirming the recent hypothesis that the four 1804 Class I supernumerary dollars are patterns unrelated to the Roberts mission.
The eagles prepared for Muscat and Siam are the two pieces from the first batch. No test eagle having been identified, they are the first two eagles to have been processed as proofs.
The Muscat specimens are the best in both varieties. The dollar is graded PR68 by PCGS. The eagle, graded PR65+ Deep Cameo by PCGS, will be sold by Heritage in Dallas on January 20, lot 3049.
NEW RECORD: The finest of just three known examples of the 1804 $10 Plain 4, BD-2, JD-1, Judd-33, High R.7, PR65+ Deep Cameo PCGS. CAC brings $5,280,000 at the FUN US Coins Signature Auction – the most ever paid at auction for a coin! https://t.co/6sLPD6FYbz#AuctionUpdate pic.twitter.com/aD2ohJauuy— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) January 21, 2021
1834 The Dollar of the Kings
1999 SOLD 4.1 M$ including premium by Bowers and Merena
The dollar dated 1804 is an extraordinary coinage whose story is worthy of an oriental tale.
The first specimen identified as Sultan of Muscat-Watters-Brand-Childs-Pogue 1804 dollar class I is really fabulous. It was sold for $ 4.1 million including premium by Bowers and Merena in August 1999, the highest recorded price for any coin at that time. It is for sale by Stack's Bowers, successor to Bowers and Merena, in cooperation with Sotheby's on May 24 in New York, lot 4020.
The Sultan of Oman is an important Arabian monarch who controls the trade in the Horn of Africa which is a major passage to the Orient. His capital is Muscat. An American dealer named Edmund Roberts manages to meet the Sultan in Zanzibar in 1827, opening the possibility to create an American influence in Asia.
Roberts is naturally designated in 1832 by the government of President Jackson to finalize the trade agreement with Muscat. The tradition is to support the negotiations in the East with gifts. Americans are not familiar with this practice: there will be no investment for this operation which, if successful, will however bring huge sources of revenues for the United States.
Roberts does not wish being commissioned to offer a ridiculous gift to the Sultan. He imagines a morocco box containing a sample of each legal coins of the United States. The order is sent to the Philadelphia Mint to run this special operation.
The silver dollar is a legal coin but President Jefferson suspended its production in 1804. Its face value is the symbol of the American currency and this piece should be the focus of the gift. New dies are created from the punches that began to rust after three decades of storage. The date 1804 is selected because it is the latest that is credible.
The first class I 1804 dollar is struck in November or December 1834 with great care so that this brand new piece of silver shall dazzle the Sultan of Muscat when he opens the box. The government is enthusiastic about the idea of Roberts and a similar gift is simultaneously prepared for the King of Siam. Six other class I coins will be struck including at least two before Roberts left for the East.
Roberts presented the box to the Sultan on October 1, 1835, the day following the signing of the treaty of friendship between both countries. This exceptional coin has been kept in mint condition. It is graded Proof 68 by PCGS. The image below has been downloaded a few years ago from Wikimedia.
The prestige of this piece with coin collectors is further increased by the fact that it is the first silver dollar on the date of 1804. At the time of Jefferson's decision the dollars produced earlier in that year were still using the dies dated from the previous year.
Please watch the video shared by Stack's Bowers in 2018.
1835 The Presentation Dollar
2013 SOLD 3.9 M$ including premium
2018 SOLD for $ 2.64M including premium
The dollar struck at the date of 1804 is the most desirable regular coin issue. Although the number of specimens made in the first issue also known as Class I is not recorded, it is probable that it did not exceed the eight units currently known.
They were prepared in three strikes : two presentation coins in 1834 for the diplomatic travel of Edmund Roberts in Asia, two additional coins in early 1835 for an an extension of the same trip and a final set of four in 1835 for the archives of the Philadelphia Mint.
The reason for the later Class II and Class III restrikes made between 1857 and 1860 is not clear.
The sixth specimen in the Class I roster is graded PR62 by PCGS. It was twice sold by Heritage, for $ 3.7M including premium on April 17, 2008 and for $ 3.9M including premium on August 9, 2013. It is now listed as lot 4003 by Heritage in Long Beach on June 14.
I summarized the reason for its rarity as follows before the 2013 sale.
The dollar is a symbol of money and the East is a dream of wealth. During the presidency of Jackson, Edmund Roberts became ambassador at large of the United States to the East.
In 1834 Roberts was responsible for presenting the richest monarchs with a complete series of the then legal US coinage from its current or last year.
When this decision was made nobody appreciated that this special set was to include for its credibility a coin that had never existed : the 1804 silver dollar. Its production had stopped after that date and all the coins from that ultimate year had been made with 1803 dies.
The 1804 dollars prepared for Roberts's diplomatic mission were for these reasons the first to use that face date, with a delay of thirty years.
Please watch the video shared by Heritage. The image below has been downloaded a few years ago from Wikimedia.
1835 The Voyage of Four Coins
2017 SOLD for $ 3.3M including premium
Diplomat and traveler, Edmund Roberts had imagined returning to the East with gifts altogether prestigious and cheap for the king of Siam and the sultan of Muscat. The Secretary of State accepted in November 1834 his idea of constituting for each of these powerful monarchs a case containing a set of all the coins in circulation in the United States including the silver dollar whose production had been suspended since 1804.
While preparing the execution of that federal order, the US Mint found that all the dollars regularly produced in 1804 had used the dies of the previous year and thus carried the date of 1803. To avoid entering into lengthy debates, the factory decides to modify old dies and to make two coins dated 1804, which are struck in December 1834. They will at least have the advantage of being brand new.
The Secretary of State decides that Roberts must extend his mission up to Cochin China and Japan. Two additional sets are assembled in April 1835 just in time before his departure. A third strike is made before 1837, certainly for the use of the archives of the US Mint : four of these coins survive.
The eight coins referred above are together designated as the 1804 Class I dollar. They are a flagship of American numismatics by the quality of their execution scheduled for a prestigious operation. The wear of the reference image of Liberty, designed in 1795, is not a numismatic defect.
The king and the sultan have received their gift but it is not known what happened to the two other sets after the death of Roberts in Macau in June 1836. It is probable that a member of the crew caught them discreetly.
The monarchs did not handle their gifts, of course. The Siam specimen remaining in its presentation case is graded Proof-67 by PCGS. The Muscat specimen graded Proof-68 by PCGS was sold for $ 4.1M including premium by Bowers and Merena in August 1999. It passed at the fourth Pogue sale on May 24, 2016.
Pogue owned another 1804 Class I dollar, graded Proof-65 by PCGS. It was sold for $ 3.3M including premium in the fifth sale of his collection by Stack's Bowers on March 31, 2017, lot 5045. Coming now from the Morelan collection, it is estimated $ 4M for sale by Legend Rare Coin in Las Vegas on October 8, lot 25. Its image is shared by Wikimedia.
This coin had surfaced in Germany in 1884 with no identified history and was at that time the subject of a dispute of authenticity closed by an official statement in its favor issued by the US Mint. Moreover the hues of its patina and the perfect condition of its reverse suggest that this coin has long been preserved in a case identical to those offered to the two sovereigns. It is therefore probably one of the last two silver dollars of Roberts' voyage.
A Class I coin graded Proof-62 by PCGS was sold for $ 3.9M including premium by Heritage on August 9, 2013.
1831-1836 The Stickney Dollar
2020 SOLD for $ 3.36M including premium
1804 had been the last year of production of the silver dollar. In 1831 the Treasury Department authorizes the restart of this denomination. Tests are carried out by reusing dies dated from 1801 to 1804. The preparation of a new design by Gobrecht in 1836 is the terminus ante quem of these tests.
The four diplomatic pieces had been the subject of specific productions, so that they could be offered in the best possible condition. Two of them were delivered, respectively to the Sultan of Muscat and the King of Siam. Remained in mint condition, they are alongside the prototype of 1794 the finest of all silver dollars.
In 1842 two managers of the Mint, DuBois and Eckfeldt, publish an illustrated manual devoted to gold and silver coins. The collector Matthew Stickney is puzzled. Plate II includes, among other coins, without further explanation, a 1804 dollar. According to official records, 19,570 dollars were minted in 1804. Stickney had never found a mere one.
In the following year Stickney manages to obtain a specimen kept at the Mint in exchange for a lot containing a 1785 Immune Columbia gold cent. This dollar, graded PR-65 by PCGS, is one of the two finest 1804 Class I after the copies offered to the kings. It was sold for $ 1.8M including premium in April 1997 by Bowers and Merena. It will be sold at lot 1094 in Newport Beach on December 17 by Stack's Bowers, successor to Bowers and Merena.
It became evident after Stickney's intervention that dies from earlier years had been used in 1804 until it was ordered to stop this denomination, and that no dollar with the date 1804 was minted before the 1831 restart authorization. The hypothesis that the 1804 dies had been specially put back into service for the diplomatic gifts has recently been refuted by the above considerations.
1839 Proof Eagle
2007 SOLD for $ 1.6M including premium by Heritage
narrated in 2021 before the sale of another coin by Heritage (see below)
The eagle was completely redesigned in 1838 by Gobrecht, who had previously created the new silver dollar. The image of Liberty, tilted from the axis of date and stars, seems to be leaning forward. This first variety is rare, with only 7,200 units minted in 1838 and 25,801 in 1839. From the end of 1839, the figure is straightened and slightly modified. The new Liberty regains her pride but is less pretty.
Since 1820, the mint was maintaining its know how in the proof polishing of gold coins, with extremely low quantities. For the eagle, the first proofs, in 1834 and 1835, are the four pieces of Roberts' journey, made in the design interrupted in 1804.
The proof eagles in Gobrecht's first design are extremely rare. Three 1838 and three 1839 have survived, including one from each year in the collection of the Smithsonian.
An 1838 proof eagle graded PR65 Cameo by PCGS passed at heritage on January 21, 2021, lot 4109. An 1839 proof eagle from the type of 1838 graded PR67 Ultra Cameo by NGC was sold for $ 1.6M including premium by Heritage in January 2007, lot 3657.