The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 19, Number 22, May 29, 2016, Article 19


CDN Publisher John Feigenbaum published a blog article May 24, 2016 about hsi experience previewing lots in this week's blockbuster Stack's Bowers Pogue IV sale. -Editor

Feigenbaum at Pogue IV lot viewing I arrived at the Sotheby's imposing building on 72nd and York on the upper east side of Manhattan around 2pm. The weather was beautiful and the building magnificent. Forced to check my bag at entry, I went up to the fourth floor with only a small notebook and magnifying glass in hand. (I had not been here since I had a front-row seat for the 1933 double eagle which sold here at auction in 2002 for $7.6 million!)

Melissa Karstedt of Stacks-Bowers, auctioneer and long-time friend, greeted me at the desk and escorted me to a private viewing area where I could carefully examine the entire collection.

It took me approximately two hours to view every lot in the sale, and would probably have gone more quickly except I kept coming back to the 1804. I was present in 1999 when this coin last sold at the Child's Sale (Bowers and Merena) also here in NYC. I was struck by it then, and it held my attention the same as before. I explained to the young woman showing me lots that this is the holy grail of numismatics, American or otherwise. There is possibly no more significant coin than this 1804 dollar.

Eventually though, I had to focus on the rest of the offerings. There are, after all 62 other coins in the sale, including the 1822 half eagle. The 1822 is a major rarity to be sure. It is the only example of this dated half eagle in private hands (two in the Smithsonian) but it is not equal to the 1804 dollar in sheer desirability. Unlike the 1804 many of us lifetime numismatists did not spend our childhoods coveting the issue. None of us ran around at coin shows in our teens dreaming that "one day I will own an 1822 half eagle." It's collectibly-unique status puts it in a sort of numismatic purgatory.

The other 61 coins in this sale were hand-picked beauties, carefully selected by the Pogue family and their advisors and I dare say any coin collector with an opportunity to view these in succession is somehow enjoying a perverse moment of someone else's private collecting life. The quality and beauty of these coins is NO accident. I am struck by the overall originality and quality of the collection. There is a choice near-gem example of the famous proof-only (specimen??) 1838-O half dollar PCGS SP64 -- also a legend among collectors.

1821_five The first half eagle lot in the sale is an 1821 "five" graded PCGS MS66+ and it knocked my socks off. John Albanese, President of CAC, had prepared me for this coin but I had let my guard down thinking of the 1822. The 1821 is a wonderful gem of the quality I had not known was possible for this rare type.

The series of $5 gold from 1813-1829 is usually referred to as "Capped Bust, large size." Most of us have seen a fair number of 1813, 1814/3 and 1818's from the series, but otherwise it's as if there are no other issues in this series. You simply NEVER see them. The series of coins from 1829-1834 is referred to as "Capped Bust, small size", or more endearingly as the "Fat Head Fives" for their odd appearance. These are even more rare as a series and nobody in their right mind would attempt to collect a complete set of these, would they??? But Pogue did. Not only that, every coin is of exceptional quality with nothing lower than MS63 save for the lone 1822.

I was blown away by the beauty and quality of every one of the early fives in Pogue IV. And I am not alone. The rumble on the street is that this run of coins is without peer. They are monstrously rare and, much like this wordy article of mine, overshadowed by the two famous rarities that highlight the sale.

To read the complete article, see:
Today I was a kid again... John F muses on his visit to Sotheby's to view the Pogue IV auction lots (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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