The finest known 1822 half eagle sold for $8.4 million in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries March 2021 Las Vegas Auction, setting a new world record in the process. Graded AU-50 by PCGS, this historic $5 coin from the D. Brent Pogue Collection was offered March 25 in the firm’s Rarities Night session. It is now the most valuable U.S. Mint gold coin that has ever sold at auction, and has surpassed even the highest prices paid for a 1913 Liberty nickel, 1804 silver dollar, or 1933 double eagle.
The 1822 half eagle is a legendary American treasure and represents the lynchpin to a complete set of U.S. coinage. There are only three known specimens, two of which are permanently impounded in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution. The Pogue-Eliasberg specimen sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries is the only example in private hands and represents a unique opportunity to own this issue. Most of the great figures in American numismatics never possessed one, and many have been born and died without ever having had the chance to compete for one at auction.
Prior to the Stack’s Bowers Galleries sale, there had been only two occasions in American numismatic history in which an 1822 half eagle has sold at auction: the 1906 Harlan P. Smith Collection Sale and Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ 1982 sale of the Louis E. Eliasberg Gold Coin Collection. The Smith specimen was later donated with the Lilly Collection of gold coins to. The other Smithsonian example is traced to the Mint Cabinet Collection, where it had been since the 1830s.
The About Uncirculated Pogue Specimen was first acquired by Virgil Brand in 1899 and held in his vast collection until sold by his heirs in 1945. At that time it entered the unparalleled cabinet of Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., and became part of the only complete collection of U.S. coins ever formed. When the gold coins from the Eliasberg Collection were auctioned in 1982, the successful buyer was the young D. Brent Pogue in the early stages of building what would become the most valuable numismatic collection in history, a cabinet which has realized over $140 million in a series of sales by Stack’s Bowers Galleries from 2015 through 2021.
With a price realized of $8.4 million, the Pogue 1822 half eagle now takes pride of place in a new cabinet. It had been in only three collections over more than 115 years, and now a fourth collector has added their name to this exclusive roster. Generations may pass before even the most well-financed collectors, dealers, and museums have another opportunity to own this issue.