Chronology : 1800-1809 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.
1811 Old Copper
2014 SOLD for $ 1.12M including premium by Goldberg
2017 SOLD for $ 1M including premium by Stack's Bowers
The half cent is the smallest denomination authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792. This coin in pure copper is definitively interrupted by the Coinage Act of 1857. The production, entirely made in Philadelphia, is not regular, with many missing years.
The fourth and penultimate figure, identified as the Classic Head, appeared in 1809 which was also the year of the highest production, 1,154,572 units, which however only correspond to $ 5,770 in face value. The production fell to 215,000 units in 1810 and to 63,140 units in 1811. The latter year was divided into two varieties cataloged as C-1 and C-2. The production is stopped after 1811 and will not be restarted until 1825, without changing the figure.
The Tettenhorst collection, known as the Missouri Cabinet, had gathered 226 half cents. Its sale by Goldberg on January 26, 2014 rekindled the interest of collectors for this small denomination. We will know later that D. Brent Pogue had bought the most important lots.
The very rare coins that have significantly preserved red areas of the original copper have often far exceeded their estimates. They are identified by the suffix RB, for Red and Brown, assigned by the certification companies. The coins identified below have been graded by PCGS.
The best result in the sale of the Missouri Cabinet was recorded on a 1794 half cent graded MS-67 RB, sold for $ 1.15M including premium. This unit was sold for $ 940K including premium by Stack's Bowers in the third Pogue sale on February 9, 2016.
1796 is the year of the lowest production. The coin graded MS-65+ RB from the Missouri Cabinet was sold for $ 720K including premium by Goldberg.
In the auction of the Missouri Cabinet, the 1811 C-1 half cent graded MS-66 RB was sold for $ 1.12M including premium over an estimate of $ 200K. It is one of the most remarkable of its denomination for its color including about 20% of the original red on the obverse and 10% on the reverse. It was sold for $ 1M including premium by Stack's Bowers on March 31, 2017 in the fifth Pogue sale. It will be sold by Heritage in Dallas on April 23, lot 3628.
1815 Shortage of Metals in Philadelphia
2016 SOLD for $ 820K including premium
The metals do not circulate any more. Copper, silver and gold are no longer available for the Philadelphia Mint whose business is extremely slowed down. The reserves ran dry. The currency emissions are no more resulting from federal decisions but the production line accepts some operations to change bullion in coins on orders from private investors.
In such conditions, it is assumed that individuals were using for their transactions the Spanish silver coins and the Portuguese gold coins whose circulation were to remain legal until 1857. The extreme rarity of the 1815 US coinage demonstrates the fragility of the American economy and the weakness of the autonomy of the United States despite the satisfactory conclusion of the war.
Only one gold coin operation is carried out in 1815, on a coordinated order between two private depositors and the Bank of Pennsylvania who each brought some gold to turn it into half eagles of $ 5. In less than one hour on November 3, 1815, 635 pieces are produced with a single pair of dies.
The rarity of this coin has become legendary. Unknown to the numismatists until the mid-nineteenth century, the 1815 half eagle was regarded in the 1880s as the rarest regular issue of the USA. Although some coins have surfaced in the following century, this variety remains a treasure.
On February 9 in New York, Stack's Bowers in association with Sotheby's sells the finest known example of 1815 half eagle, graded MS65 by PCGS with a rich color between deep yellow and orange. It is estimated $ 750K, lot 3149.
1820 A Too Long Reign
2020 SOLD for $ 440K before fees
During this period, the final victory over the Napoleonic empire led the United Kingdom to the brink of financial ruin. The reform of 1816 defines a new currency, named sovereign or pound, which takes reference to a gold standard. The silver money is devalued and the guinea becomes outdated.
To engrave the new coinage, the Royal Mint hires Benedetto Pistrucci, an Italian medalist recently arrived in London. The gold sovereign features on the obverse the laureate head of an earlier portrait of the king and on the reverse a dynamic image of St George slaying the dragon.
They must now prepare the highest denominations. The 5-sovereigns succeeds to the 5-guineas, the last issue of which was dated from 1753. The creation of a double sovereign is also decided. These two references have the same design, based on the sovereign of 1817 with a rejuvenation of the king's face and the replacement of the saint's broken spear by a sword.
In early 1820, the dies are ready for the two new denominations. The king's death on January 29 forces the project to be canceled. The production is limited to 25 5-pound and 60 2-pound gold coins. Each of these values exists in two variants : the edge is either plain or inscribed in raised letters celebrating the 60th year of this too long reign.
A five pounds pattern coin with lettered edge, graded PR63 Deep Cameo by PCGS despite a scratch behind the tail of the horse, with a rich orange peel color, was sold for £ 360K including premium by Spink on May 14, 2015 over a lower estimate of £ 100K. It is estimated $ 425K for sale on January 19 in New York by Baldwin's of St James's, lot 169 linked here on the NumisBids bidding platform.
The lot 170 of the next sale, estimated $ 70K, is the highest graded copy of the two pounds pattern, certified PR64 Ultra Cameo by NGC. It has also the inscribed edge.
The gold double sovereign of George IV was released for circulation in 1823, followed two years later by the five-sovereigns.
The participation of William Wyon in 1820 in the retouching of Pistrucci's drawing is possible. The fact remains that the Una and the Lion by Wyon which will symbolize in 1839 the new reign of Victoria is undoubtedly a feminization of this heroic St George.
£ 5 : SOLD for $ 440K before fees
£ 2 : unsold
Happy #StGeorgesDay from #Spink #Coins!— Spink & Son (@SpinkandSon) April 23, 2020
Along with the 200th Anniversary of the first 5 Pounds we chose a #GeorgeIII, Pattern Five Pounds, 1820.
Only 25 made depicting St George and the Dragon as designed by Benedetto Pistrucci.
Sold in May 2015 for £360,000#numismatics #coins pic.twitter.com/rOcJjDSwvn
1825 A US Coin from only Two Units known
2008 SOLD 690 K$ including premium
It is codified under the reference 1825/4 $5 AU50 by NGC (NGC is a normative service). It is a piece of $ 5 with a branched eagle on obverse and a rather ugly Liberty on reverse.
From a low mintage, the fate of this model was settled in the early years when the money producers observed that the value of its raw metals (ratio silver-gold 18 / 1) was more interesting than its currency value. Tens of thousands of coins of several models were then melted, and there are currently only two survivors of our model, including that which is for sale.
Sold $ 140 K in 1978, it came down at auction in two steps to $ 105 K (1992). The commerce sold it $ 275 K and it got $ 240 K at auction in 1999. Heritage auctions it now with a reserve price of 600 K $. If it is sold, it will mean that the market has changed considerably over the past decade, and that the scarcity tops over all other characteristics.
POST SALE COMMENT
The auction house had well targeted its estimate. This coin of 1825 was sold for 690 K$ including fees.
1827 pattern rouble of Nicholas I
2013 SOLD 2.05 MCHF before fees by Sincona
1829 A New Proof Coin of 1829
2012 SOLD 1.38 M$ including premium
Proof coins are generally presented from mint to amateurs or other persons who know their specificity and keep them safe. They thus remain in excellent condition.
Everything is easier for recent issues which have of course a better traceability. For older pieces, the experts should use their best inspection equipment.
In 1829, the design of the US "capped head" half eagles ($ 5) changes very slightly, for reasons of standardization of production. The old and the new type, named Large Date and Small Date, coexist in that date, and both are extremely rare: the cash value was too close to the price of raw gold, and many have been melted.
CoinWeek summarizes the story (also available in the catalog of Heritage) of one of these 1829 Large Date coins. Classified Mint state in 1979, it already generated a doubt. It could also be a proof or from a special presentation strike.
Doubt is now closed. This is one of very few surviving proof specimens of half eagles from 1820 to 1829. This coin is for sale by Heritage Auctions in Orlando on January 5. The auction is open on the site of the auction house and the price is already rising for this outstanding lot.
POST SALE COMMENT
This numismatic gem had emerged as the star lot of this important auction sale. It is worth its price, $ 1.38 million including premium.
1833 The Half Eagles
2016 SOLD for $ 1.35M including premium
The third Pogue sale made by Stack's Bowers on February 9, 2016 listed 27 half eagles from 1807 to 1820. Highly rare due to the shortage of gold, the 1815 half eagle was sold for $ 820K including premium. 1816 and 1817 are missing.
The fourth Pogue sale is held in New York on May 24 by Stack's Bowers in association with Sotheby's. It offers 37 half eagles from 1821 to 1839, lots 4025 to 4062, often the best known example for year and variant.
In the 1820s, the half eagle is an issue because its value in gold has become greater than its face value. For this reason, a large proportion of the coins was used as bullion, exported and melted. Its change from 1834 is aiming to limit the consequences.
These facts may explain the sensational rarity of the half eagle on the date of 1822. On that year, the realized production was similar to the other years, probably insufficient for the dies to be worn at the end of the year. Most half eagles struck in 1822 have certainly been made with the tooling marked 1821, although no document confirms this hypothesis. The following year marked a return to normal.
The attention of collectors on the rarity of the 1822 half eagle was awakened in the late nineteenth century. In addition to a coin in poor condition preserved in the Smithsonian, it was counted after removing some counterfeits that only two units were surviving. Both in very good condition, they were coveted by the greatest collectors throughout the twentieth century.
One of these coins went to the Smithsonian by donation in 1968. There is now only one 1822 half eagle remaining in private hands. Without it, it is impossible to assemble a complete private collection of US coinage. This coin graded AU-50 by PCGS is offered as lot 4026 with an opening bid of $ 2.6M.
A 1833 half eagle is exceptional for its condition graded Proof-67 by PCGS that makes it one of the most stunning US gold coins of its time. It is estimated $ 850K, lot 4044.
1833 half eagle SOLD for $ 1.35M including premium
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.
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
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 is estimated $ 3M in the fifth sale of his collection to be held in Baltimore on March 31 by Stack's Bowers, lot 5045.
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.
1838 The Enigma of the 1838-O Half Dollar
2013 SOLD 735 K$ including premium
The New Orleans mint has not edited any half dollar coin in 1838. Yet nine 1838-O samples are identified. They are all in first strike (proof) quality. The puzzle is now closed out by a recent study, unquestionable and documented, published by the numismatists of Heritage.
1838 is the key year when production of federal coins is decentralized. Three provincial plants are created: Charlotte in North Carolina, Dahlonega in Georgia, New Orleans in Louisiana.
In the old mint of Philadelphia, they do everything to achieve a success. The decision is made to mark the origin of the strike: C for Charlotte, D for Dahlonega, O for New Orleans.
The first two of these plants will use the local gold, and the program of activities of the third is the only one to include a silver coinage. Philadelphia therefore tested a half dollar marked 1838-O before shipping its dies to Louisiana.
The year is very bad, due to equipment malfunction and serious epidemics, and no half dollar is struck in Louisiana in 1838. In early 1839, when the problems are resolved, the hardware of the new vintage is not yet ready and the first tests of half dollars are still using the 1838-O dies.
Our nine coins are regular, without being able to discriminate whether they come from the 1838 Philadelphia pattern or from the 1839 New Orleans novodel.
One of the best, graded PR64 by PCGS, was sold $ 630K including premium by Heritage in June 2005. It is listed again in the sale held from 9 to 13 January by Heritage in Orlando. Here is the link to the catalog.
1839 The Young Head
2020 SOLD for $ 690K including premium
The new reign is organizing. Victoria is crowned on June 28, 1838 and married on February 10, 1840. In 1839 the Royal Mint commemorates the new reign with a prestigious issue including the fifteen monetary values from farthing to five pounds.
The highest denomination is the masterpiece of British coinage, both for aesthetics and for political importance. Wyon targeted it skilfully. The obverse is the young head. The reverse stages Una leading the lion. The young Una has the features of the new queen. The lion is the traditional symbol of Great Britain. A saying from the Psalms (117: 133) promises a kingdom delivered from sin.
These coins have not circulated. All the Five pounds inspected by PCGS or NGC are Proofs, graded between PR60 and PR66. The contrast must also be taken into account for their appraisal.
On September 26, 2015, Baldwin's sold for £ 500K including premium a full set of the fifteen denominations, in an unsurpassable condition. The eight highest denominations have all been graded PR66 or better by NGC. The Five pounds is the only known example of its kind in PR66, and its contrast is Ultra Cameo.
Regarding the sales of single pieces, Baldwin's of St James's sold on September 22, 2017 for £ 340K before fees a Five pounds graded PR65 Ultra Cameo by NGC. On January 13 in New York, Heritage sells a Five pounds graded PR64 Deep Cameo by PCGS, lot 32248 estimated $ 200K. With the same grade and contrast, another coin was sold for $ 260K including premium by Heritage on January 5, 2015.
POST SALE COMMENT
In the same sale, the next lot was another example of the same coin, graded PR61 Ultra Cameo by NGC. It was sold for $ 300K including premium.