"LEGENDARY GEM" 1811 Half Cent
Cohen 1, Breen 1 (Dies 1-A) : ‘Wide Date’ with 1-8 distant. Struck from the earliest known state of these dies, with no sign of the die breaks that would later doom this obverse. First use of this reverse.
The Missouri – Pogue 1811 Classic Head Half Cent is one of the top prizes of the entire half cent denomination. A key to the series, and a great grade rarity, most known survivors are well worn or corroded with maybe a half dozen surviving in Mint State. The two finest known are likely the Missouri – Pogue coin offered here, followed by Norweb 10/1987:67. Both examples are softly prooflike, the Norweb coin getting an edge for a more complete strike on the upper stars, but the Missouri – Pogue coin leading for color. While both coins have been described as ‘Proof’ or ‘Specimen’ strikings in the past, both are more correctly described as prooflike business strikes, struck early in the life of this die pair.
After the incredible excitement surrounding the Goldbergs’ sale of the Missouri Cabinet in 2014, followed by the strong results at Pogue Part V in March 2017, prices for the top level of the early copper market have moved lower, recently finding support near 70% to 75% of their Pogue V levels. This finest known 1811 is not immune to these lower price levels, and is now available at a significant discount to its 2014 auction record of $1,112,250 and subsequent sale at $998,750 in 2017.
Ignoring the importance of the date, this is also one of the most visually impressive examples of the entire Classic Head Half Cent series. The surfaces are glassy and reflective, glowing under softly iridescent blue and violet merging with substantial original mint red in the protected areas and perfect reddish tan in the fields and flatter areas of the design.
There is some disagreement regarding the early provenance of this 1811 Half Cent. Cataloguers for both the 2014 Missouri Cabinet sale and the 2017 Pogue Collection Part V reference the same ‘pre-Newman’ provenance chain, as follows:
Hollis Page; Dr. Thomas Hall (his inventory #H1191); privately, September 1909 to Virgil M. Brand; by descent June 1926 to Horace and Armin Brand; by court order 1937 to Armin William Brand; Burdette G. Johnson, privately, to Eric P. Newman; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
Then, without dispute, follow the more recent sales:
Missouri Cabinet (Eric P. Newman and Bernard Edison, aka R. Tettenhorst. Mocab 11.1.6); Ira & Larry Goldberg January 2014, lot 102 @ $1,121,250 to Brent Pogue; Pogue Family Collection; Stack’s Bowers ‘D. Brent Pogue, Part V’, March 2017, lot 5067 @ $998,750 to Oliver Jung; ‘The Type Set’ by Oliver and Lish Jung.
However, Ron Guth notes that in October 2014 researcher Del Bland matched the Missouri Cabinet coin to the Allison Jackman sale, which would result in the following ‘pre-Newman’ provenance chain:
Purchased by Benjamin H. Collins from ‘an old colored woman’ of Alexandria, VA; sold by Collins privately to S.H. & H. Chapman for $3; S.H. & H. Chapman June 1884, lot 3125 @ $67 as ‘Uncirculated … Bright red color and proof surface’; Robert S. Hatcher; Allison W. Jackman; Henry Chapman ‘Allison W. Jackman’, June 1918, lot 879 @ $145 to S.H. Chapman; Howard Rounds Newcomb; B. Max Mehl; Col. E.H.R. Green Collection; Burdette G. Johnson (St. Louis Stamp & Coin); Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
Regarding the ‘old colored woman’ provenance, under Henry Chapman’s description of lot 879 from the Allison Jackman sale, he recounted the Chapman brothers’ original purchase of Jackman’s 1811 Half Cent from Benjamin Collins:
‘This coin was discovered in 1884 being brought by an old colored woman of Alexandria, Va. to Mr. B.H. Collins of Washington to whom she stated she had a bag of them! He thinking there was not any mistake about the hoard sold it (to) S.H. & H. Chapman for $3! with the remark “How many more will you take?” We said the lot. The woman subsequently sold him the bag but to his astonishment they were all 1828’s 13 stars! and it has always been a mystery to me that an 1811 equally fine as the 1828’s should have been in with the later date, and that her pick at random should have alighted on the only 1811 in the bag! It was subsequently sold in the Warner sale, $67 and there bought by Mr. Jackman.’