Gardner's Standing Liberties: 1917 example formerly thought to be a Proof brings 'impressive price'

Portion of Market Analysis column from Nov. 17, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , Coin World
Published : 11/05/14
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The following post is pulled from Coin World editor Steve Roach’s Market Analysis column in the Nov. 17 issue.

Heritage’s second auction of the Eugene H. Gardner Collection of U.S. Coins took place in New York City on Oct. 27 and totaled nearly $14 million. The first auction of his collection earlier this year brought nearly $20 million and there are two more auctions to go. 

Gardner’s goal in pacing the sales was to allow bidders the chance to buy coins for their specialty without “breaking the bank” as might happen if a series was presented in its entirety in a single sale. 

Here is one of three Coin World profiles of Standing Liberty quarter dollars from Gardner II that found new homes. 

The coin: 1917 Standing Liberty quarter dollar, Type 1, Uncirculated details, improperly cleaned

The price: $646.25

The story: This quarter is fascinating because it was once thought of as a Proof by Walter Breen, an expert who dominated numismatic research in the 1970s through early 1990s. When offered at a March 1996 Stack’s Bowers auction, this coin was accompanied by a Breen letter authenticating it as a Proof striking. No Mint records confirm the production of Proof 1917 Standing Liberty, Bare Breast quarters (Type 1), but Breen noted the raised edges (or “fins”), sharp details and rich, satiny texture and characterized it as a Proof. 

Both Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and Heritage believed that the piece is a business strike intended for circulation, and the unusual quarter, in an NGC Uncirculated Details, Improperly Cleaned, holder brought $646.25. That price, while a fraction of what it would bring if an authentic Proof, is still an impressive price considering that typical examples in this grade sell at the $200 level generally. 

Read more of the "Gardner's Standing Liberties" analysis: 

Low-mintage 1927-S quarter tops $175,000 at auction

1930-S example among 'solid' coins, good for its grade

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