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Get Ready for the Auction of the Decade


It seems most every decade has at least one coin auction that stands out above the rest. Whether it is the quality of the pieces, their rarity or simply the total prices realized, most numismatists can name the singular "defining" auction of the decade.

During the 1950s it was the Palace Collection of King Farouk of Egypt that kept the numismatic community buzzing. Sold in Egypt by Sothebys, it contained most of the major rarities including a 1913 Liberty Nickel, an 1885 Trade Dollar, the 1866 No Motto Dollar, the 1844-O and 1854-S Half Eagles, the Amazonian Gold set, the famous "Indian Double Eagle" (Judd 1776) and of course, the infamous 1933 Double Eagle (as part of a large lot!).

While the 1960s did not really have a collection of the historic magnitude of Farouk, the end of the 1970s brought the collection of the Garrett family. Sold over three years between 1979 and 1981, the sale realized $24 million and contained an 1804 Silver Dollar, the Nova Constellatio set of 1783, the Brasher doubloon with EB on breast and the 1854 Kellogg $20 to name but a few.

The 1980s brought us the Norweb Sale. Built over several generations, the Norweb Family collection featured a 1913 Nickel, an 1894-S Barber Dime, the Oswald 1794 Silver Dollar, an 1870-S Seated Dollar, an 1885 Trade Dollar, the finest-known 1861 Paquet $20, an Extremely High Relief $20, a Brasher doubloon and a number of 1792 Pattern issues. The Norweb sale realized roughly $20 million, and was sold in a mediocre market.

How to follow the Norweb sale? Well, how about the Eliasberg Sale, sold in three parts between 1982 and 1997. Listing the highlights of this sale is futile. It will be easier to list what it did not include. There. Done. The Eliasberg collection remains the only complete collection of U.S. coins ever assembled. Estimates of the total realization approach $50 million, and when you realize that the gold was sold in a very weak market, its present day value boggles the mind.

The 2000s witnessed the sale of the holdings of John J. Ford. Sold over an astonishing 21 sales spanning three years, Ford's specialties included pioneer gold coins, ingots, patterns, Colonial copper pieces, Confederate coins, and a variety of medals. While not the usual rarities, Ford's holdings were massive and when the dust had settled, the total of the sales had exceeded $56 million.

And this brings us (at last) to the subject of this article. In May, 2015, Stack-Bowers will begin the first of eight sales of the collection of D. Brent Pogue.

According to the announcement in Coin World:

[The Pogue Collection] was assembled over more than three decades by Dallas real estate magnate A. Mack Pogue and his son, D. Brent Pogue, the collection focuses on copper, silver and gold coins from the early 1790s to the late 1830s, with many finest known coins.

Among the coins in the collection are two Class I, original 1804 Draped Bust dollars; the finest known regular strike 1795 Flowing Hair, Three Leaves dollar; and an 1822 Capped Head $5 gold half eagle and 1854-S Coronet half eagle, both of which have been off the market since 1982.

Estimates of the total value of the collection remain fluid, and predicting such things is usually not something auction companies like to do. But a rough estimate of between $150 and $200 million is not an unreasonable range.

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