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Stack's Bowers Galleries to offer multimillion dollar Gold Rush coin
The first-ever 1854-S half eagle coin, struck in April 1854 just one day within of the opening of the San Francisco Mint, is the finest of just three examples confirmed to exist. It has been graded AU-58+.

BALTIMORE, MD.- Stack’s Bowers Galleries will offer an extremely rare $5 gold coin or “half eagle” worth millions of dollars in their upcoming auction, scheduled for March 20 in Baltimore, MD.

The first-ever 1854-S half eagle coin, struck in April 1854 just one day within of the opening of the San Francisco Mint, is the finest of just three examples confirmed to exist. It has been graded AU-58+, far finer than the EF-45 example that brought $2.16 million in August 2018.

To help deal with the overwhelming amount of gold discovered in California during the Gold Rush, the United States set up an official government Branch Mint in San Francisco in April 1854, the first such facility west of the Mississippi.

On the second day of official operations, the Mint struck 268 five-dollar gold coins called “half eagles,” with a total face value of $1,340. No more half eagles were struck in San Francisco in 1854, making this coin not only historically important as the first half eagle ever struck by the United States on the West Coast, but one of the most famous rarities in the world of American coins.

This example of the 1854-S half eagle has been off the market since it was last sold at auction in 1982 as part of the collection of Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., the so-called “King of Coins,” whose record-breaking collection was the most complete ever formed. Since that time, it has been in the D. Brent Pogue Collection, the most valuable coin collection ever built. Between 2015 and 2017, Stack’s Bowers Galleries sold the first five parts of the Pogue Collection for over $100 million, shattering the previous record for the most valuable rare coin collection.

The 1854-S half eagle made the news in 2018 when an example sold at auction after being discovered in New England. The coin brought the population to three total examples. A previously known example was stolen in a violent home invasion in 1967 and has long been presumed lost. The third example resides at The Smithsonian.

The Pogue specimen has sold at auction only twice, in 1946 and in 1982. It brought $187,000 38 years ago.

Joining this rarity at auction will be more than 500 additional lots of rare coins and paper money from the Pogue Collection. D. Brent Pogue died at age 54 in July 2019.

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