Famous 1838-O Half Dollar Rarity, Ex Newcomer, Green, Neil, Tied for PCGS Finest

​This beautiful 1838-O half dollar is a crown jewel in the D. Brent Pogue Collection. Count on the fingers of one hand the most famous American silver issues, and the 1838-O will be among them—in nice company with the 1804 silver dollar. You are invited to participate in our forthcoming auction as a bidder, buyer, or interested observer as history will be made when this and other treasures cross the auction block in May at Sotheby’s international headquarters in New York City.

The auction is like no other ever held in terms of overall quality, rarity, and value. Some of the most famous rarities of all time will be offered—the result of 40 years of careful connoisseurship by D. Brent Pogue and his family.

The history of the 1838-O half dollar has engendered two books, one by David Stone and Mark Van Winkle and the other by Kevin Flynn. The multi-page essay by John Kraljevich for this coin in the Pogue Collection IV catalog draws upon past information and new research to create an important reference in its own right. The buyer of this 1838-O half dollar will have a trove of interesting information to contemplate and enjoy. There are not many American rarities for which this can be said.

To our knowledge only nine different examples of the 1838-O half dollar can be traced today, none of which surpass the Pogue coin. The number struck is not known. An example of this half dollar, sold at auction by Édouard Frossard in the William M. Friesner Collection sale, lot 583, June 7, 1894, was accompanied by this note:

"The enclosed specimen of the United States branch mint at New Orleans is presented to Pres. Bache by Rufus Tyler, the coiner. It may be proper to state that not more than 20 pieces were struck with the half dollar dies of 1838."

"Not more than" is not definitive. Were 10 struck, or 15? Or were there just nine? The question is moot, for only nine can be traced today, of which one is a permanent part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. That leaves eight in public hands. Considering the top quality of this coin and one other, it may be many years before an opportunity to acquire an 1838-O of this quality recurs.

The next owner of this coin will "collect collectors" as well as the coin, considering the illustrious roster of past owners:

Provenance: H.O. Granberg Collection, before September 1908; Waldo Newcomer Collection, by sale, en bloc, via William H. Woodin, about 1915; B. Max Mehl, by sale, en bloc, 1932; Col. Edward Huntington Robinson Green Collection, by sale; Col. E.H.R. Green Estate, June 1936; Burdette G. Johnson, by sale, June 1942; unknown intermediary, likely James Macallister; Maurice A. Ryan Collection, by sale; B. Max Mehl’s sale of the Waltman, Roe, and Ryan Collections, June 1945, lot 936; Will W. Neil Collection; B. Max Mehl’s sale of the Will W. Neil Collection, June 1947, lot 580; James A. Stack Collection; Stack’s sale of the James A. Stack Collection, March 1975, lot 415; Julian Leidman; Steve Ivy Numismatic Auctions’ 1982 American Numismatic Association sale, August 1982, lot 2320; Anthony Terranova to Kevin Lipton; George Vogt (Colonial Coins); RARCOA’s session of Auction ’84, August 1984, lot 1666; David Queller Collection; Stack’s sale of the Queller Family Collection of United States Half Dollars 1794-1963, October 2002, lot 446.

We invite you to consider this this 1838-O half dollar, to review its tradition and pedigree, and add your name to this 1838-O Hall of Fame.


A Special Invitation

For more information on the Pogue Collection:

Limited-edition catalogs of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part IV are being prepared and will be 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


Join our mailing list

Don't miss an auction!

Subscribe to our newsletter.


Contact Us

West Coast Office • (800) 458-4646

Midwest Office • (800) 817-2646

East Coast Office • (800) 566-2580

Hong Kong, China Office • +852 2117 1191

Follow Us

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter

We are sorry, an unexpected error occurred!
Please enter a valid email address

I'm Interested In...

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Stack's Bowers Galleries e-newsletter.