Collector Eugene Herr Gardner, whose collection of United States
coins realized more than $52 million at auction, died July 16 in
Lancaster, Pa., at age 80 from complications of multiple myeloma.
Heritage Auctions President Greg Rohan, who developed a strong
friendship with Mr. Gardner, made the announcement online soon after
Mr. Gardner’s passing:
“Six years ago, Gene was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and told
his time was short. His family and his friends were blessed to have
him in our lives longer than anyone expected. Gene was doing well
until about a week ago. He was making plans to attend the Santa Fe
Opera with [wife] Anne at the end of this month, and then a terrible
lung infection took hold of him. He’s been home the last few days
surrounded by his loving family, all of whom were with him this afternoon.”
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Those extra years permitted Mr. Gardner to keep up his numismatic
collection and witness the public sale of his more than 3,000 coins in
four auctions by Heritage Auctions between 2014 and 2015.
Rohan noted that Mr. Gardner had hoped that the auctions offering
his coins collected over a span of more than two decades would
generate $40 million, but was flabbergasted when the total reached
Among the highlights from those sales were a Professional Coin
Grading Service Mint State 66 1796 Draped Bust dime that realized
$881,250 on June 23, 2014; a PCGS Proof 64 1827/3/2 Capped Bust
quarter dollar stickered by Certified Acceptance Corp., which realized
$396,562.50 in the same sale; and a PCGS Extremely Fine 40 1870-S Seated Liberty dollar that
brought $505,250 in the May 12, 2015 Gardner III sale.
Heritage has established a Scholarship Fund at The American
Numismatic Association in honor of Mr. Gardner. Tax deductible
contributions may be sent to ANA-Eugene Gardner Fund, 818 N.
Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Mr. Gardner’s numismatic interests were heavy in Seated Liberty and
Bust coinage, although many series were represented in his collection.
The Liberty Seated
Collectors Club named him to the LSCC Hall of Fame in 2014.
Mr. Gardner had a preference for silver coins, both Proofs and
circulation strikes, exhibiting aesthetically pleasing toning.
A focus of Mr. Gardner’s collection was Seated Liberty coinage, with
an emphasis on quality and completeness. His collection of
circulation-strike Seated Liberty half dollars, for example, is
considered the “all-time greatest,” notes Heritage.
The scope of Mr. Gardner’s collection is exemplified by such pieces
as the 1842 Seated Liberty, Small Date, Small Letters half dollar, a
pairing of design obverse and reverse subtypes known by just four examples.
The subtype was unknown until 18 years after the 1993 publication of
Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dollars by Randy Wiley
and Bill Bugert. Heritage reported the identification of the type on
April 4, 2001, with three more examples discovered since.
Mr. Gardner’s 1842 Seated Liberty, Small Date, Small Letters half
dollar, graded PCGS MS-64, brought $99,875 at the June 23, 2014,
Many of the top coins in his collection are pedigreed to some of the
greatest collections of U.S. coins ever assembled, including those of
Eric P. Newman, Jimmy Hayes and Louis E. Eliasberg Sr.
Mr. Gardner’s many interests included golf, opera, languages, wine
and travel, and he was a tournament bridge player.
A native of Lancaster, Pa., Mr. Gardner in 2014 became member
emeritus of the investment adviser firm Gardner Russo & Gardner
LLC. Mr. Gardner originally founded the firm in 1968 as Gardner Investments.
Before branching out on his own, Mr. Gardner worked for legendary
investor William Ruane at Kidder Peabody in New York and remained
associated with Ruane Cunniff and Goldfarb LLC for the majority of his
Family and memorial
Mr. Gardner is survived by his wife of 53 years, Anne; a son, Eugene
H. Gardner Jr., and wife, Bernadette, of Lancaster; a daughter, Dr.
Victoria Curtin Gardner Coates, and her husband, George G.H. Coates
Jr., of Philadelphia; a brother, Paul Gardner Jr. from Hartford,
Conn.; and six grandchildren.
A memorial service was scheduled to be held July 22 at Highland
Presbyterian Church in Lancaster.
The family will greet guests beginning at 9:30 a.m. and the service
will begin at 11:00 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made on Mr. Gardner’s
behalf to the Bright Side Baptist Church (c/o Dr. Louis Butcher, 515
Hershey Ave., Lancaster, PA 17603); the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer
Institute Fund (2102 Harrisburg Ave., Lancaster, PA 17601); and The
Fulton Opera House (12 N. Prince St., Lancaster, PA 17602).
Communication to the family may be directed to Box 328, Bausman, PA
17504. Online condolences may be posted online at The Groffs Family
Funeral Home & Cremation Services Inc website.