Superb Gem 1796 With-Pole Half Cent An American Classic None Finer Known

History Will Be Made

Get ready! Get set! Almost go! Our sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection Part III is just around the corner—at Sotheby’s International Headquarters in New York City on Tuesday, February 9, followed by our Rarities Auction at Sotheby’s the next day. Once again Stack’s Bowers Galleries is teaming with the world-famous art auction house to create an auction that will make numismatic history! And, you can be a part of it—as a bidder, buyer, or interested observer. Plan to be in New York City, or participate by telephone (by advance arrangements), or virtually in real time on line.

Limited-edition catalogs 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, 208 pages, color illustrated, quality hardbound. This tells the stories of 100 special coins from the collection. $39.95 plus shipping.

The 1822 Gold Half Eagle: Story of a Rarity, 128 pages, color illustrated, quality hardbound. $39.95 plus shipping.

For more information or to order visit


The Gem 1796 Half Cent

The D. Brent Pogue Collection 1796 half cent With Pole to Cap is a fine old friend. In 1999 we had the honor of showcasing it as part of the John Whitney Walter (“Mr. 1796”) Collection, headlined as “tied for finest known.”

“Nearly 50% of the original mint red color still remains on both sides, the balance of the coin being a pleasing medium to deep brown,” we stated. Earlier the coin was in the collection of Gene Reale. We estimate that about 100 to 120 examples exist of the 1796 With Pole to Cap half cent, of which perhaps 10 or 12 are in various gradations of Mint State. This coin is tied with one other at PCGS. Most of these were found in England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, leading to the suggestion that perhaps a small group was imported by a British numismatist in the era in which they were struck—coin collecting being a passion at the time. Reminiscing in 1932 about his departed fine friend Henry C. Miller, Thomas L. Elder recalled:

“He sold out his fine cent collection and some other items in 1916, I think it was, and we got fine results for him. Sometime prior to that he had secured a pair of Proof 1796 half cents from a dealer in London for something less than $50 for the two. As he collected no half cents, he turned them over to me, and in a sale on East 23rd Street we got $300 for one of the half cents, which to that time seemed a world’s record.”

There are no Proofs of any 1796 half cent, and this terminology is no longer used for gem coins. Instead we have the more understandable Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards.

Today a 1796 With Pole to Cap half cent in any grade is an attraction and merits an expanded description in an auction catalog. As to Mint State pieces, all bets are off and excitement will prevail in New York City on February 9—just as it did when we sold this coin as part of the John Whitney Walter Collection years ago.

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