1822 Half Eagle, a coin to make collectors drool, goes on view before sale

Rare 19th century coin -- last seen publicly in 1982 -- to be shown in Long Beach

One of the rarest coins in the U.S. – the 1822 Half Eagle – will make its first public appearance in more than three decades in Long Beach this weekend.

The $5 gold coin, which was purchased in 1982 for a record $687,500, will be exhibited at the Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp & Sports Collectible Expo starting Thursday.

Insured for $8 million, the coin is one of three known to exist. The other two Half Eagles from 1822 are housed at the Smithsonian Institution.

The coin is owned by the Pogue family, based in Dallas, which amassed a fortune in real estate. D. Brent Pogue began scouting out coins in the 1970s and assembled one of the most extensive private collections in the country.

Starting in May, the D. Brent Pogue collection will be sold by Irvine-based Stack's Bowers Galleries and Sotheby's in a series of auctions scheduled to run through 2017.

In anticipation of the sale, Santa Ana-based Professional Coin Grading Service dedicated five experts to authenticate the coin and assigned it a grade of “almost uncirculated-50,” a condition that exceeds either coin in the Smithsonian’s collection, said David Hall, co-founder of the coin grading firm.

Hall estimated that the coin would fetch at least $8 million to $10 million at auction because of its rarity.

Nearly 18,000 of the $5 pieces were minted in 1822. But as the concentration of gold was lowered in coins after 1834, most of the earlier coins were melted down for gold, Hall said.

Half Eagle coins have attracted a number of suitors over the years, most notably J.P. Morgan. The banking titan was rebuffed when he offered $35,000 for a Half Eagle owned by William Forrester Dunham, according to the late coin historian Walter Breen. That coin is now at the Smithsonian.

Prior owners of the Pogues' coin include Maryland financier Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. and the turn-of-the-century Chicago beer tycoon Virgil M. Brand. The Brand-Eliasberg coin, as some collectors refer to it, was last seen publicly in New York City when it was auctioned off.

“It’s been sitting in a Dallas bank vault since 1982,” Hall said.

The coin will be shown at the Stack’s Bowers Galleries booth at the Long Beach Convention Center.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
68°