One of America’s Greatest Coins, Gem 1815 $5 Half Eagle

A message from Q. David Bowers:


As the Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction of the D. Brent Pogue Collection Part III nears, I take the opportunity to comment on several things:

In the past year our Pogue I and II sales, held in partnership with Sotheby’s at their gallery in New York City, have electrified the numismatic world. From print coverage in countless newspapers, a special article in Forbes magazine, features on all the television networks in America, programs in Europe on the BBC, and presentations in print and on screen in foreign languages from Europe to the Orient to South America, the coins have created a sensation. Everyone who has participated—from reading about and watching the sales to attending in person, to bidding and buying— has been part of coin-collecting history in an event that will never have an equal. Coin for coin, no public or private collection anywhere on the globe has such a high combination of quality and rarity.

My thanks and appreciation from our entire organization go to D. Brent Pogue and the Pogue family who for a period of 40 years backed by a generous budget carefully purchased the finest of the fine, the rarest of the rare. The most famous American silver coin is the 1804 silver dollar. The Pogue example traces its pedigree to presentation by an emissary of President Andrew Jackson to the Sultan of Muscat. It is a coming attraction and is by far the finest known.

Immediately at hand and scheduled to cross the block this Tuesday evening at Sotheby’s is the finest known example by far of what is probably the most famous American gold coin, a gem 1815 half eagle. The 1822 half eagle, a coming attraction down the line, is rarer, with only one in private hands—but is so rare that until the 20th century very little publicity was given to it. In the 19th century examples of the 1815 changed hands now and again when great collections were sold, bringing to the coin fame and admiration. In fact, the Royal Collection in Sweden has one and it is the key to its entire display in terms of value.

I love numismatic history. Some years ago I thought of writing a book on the 1815 half eagle and did a draft manuscript, but other things intervened. It does get nice coverage, however, in my book, The 1822 Half Eagle: Story of a Rarity, which is not only about that coin, but the numismatic world of collectors, dealers, and events from the early 19th century onward. A century and a half ago when hardly anyone knew that an 1822 half eagle existed, the 1815 was widely proclaimed as the rarity of rarities in the American gold series. Today, with 11 known across all grades, it is still famous. In Gem Mint State the D. Brent Pogue Collection specimen is unbelievable! It stands alone; no other coin is like it or even comes close! No amount of money can secure another once it crosses the auction block.

Regarding the catalog for Pogue Sale III, I feel confident that if anyone who has a collecting instinct, but who knows nothing about rare coins, spends several evenings reading every page, he or she will become an enthusiastic numismatist. If you have a friend, business associate, or family member who might be a candidate, give them this challenge. It will work. It is a missionary for our hobby.

As I write these words I contemplate the more than two years I and others have spent immersed in this collection of collections. My long-time friend and associate Chris Karstedt has been the program director, so to speak, interfacing constantly with the Pogue family, with lead cataloger John Kraljevich, with valuations expert Larry Stack, with copy editor Jennifer Meers, with Brian Kendrella, Greg Roberts, and others in California, and doing 101 other things. In one way or another, all of us in the organization have done our part. I thank one and all.

In conclusion, I thank you as a reader of this commentary, I thank all of those who have been part of the Pogue events in the past two years, I again thank the Pogue family, and I express my appreciation for being part of an event that will echo in the halls of numismatics for years to come.


A Special Invitation

For more information on the Pogue Collection:

Limited-edition catalogs of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part III 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


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