US Coins

Heritage Auctions Gardner III Sale May 12, 2015

Heritage Auctions’ third auction of the collection of Pennsylvania numismatist Eugene H. Gardner is set for May 12 in New York City. 

The first auction, on June 23, 2014, brought $19.6 million and the second sale of Gardner’s coins brought $13,753,523 in New York City on Oct. 27. The fourth and final sale is scheduled for October 2015.  

The collection of more than 3,000 coins — especially strong in Draped Bust, Capped Bust, and Seated Liberty silver coins — is considered to be one of the finest groupings of American silver coins ever assembled. It is also strong in early copper coins.

The collection was segmented into four separate auctions to allow potential bidders to spread out their purchases. Each auction has a range of issues and rarities that showcase the diversity and depth of Gardner’s holdings. 

In selling his collections, Gardner related that he views the sale of his collection as the capstone of his collecting career, noting that the auctions allow him to introduce his collections to new collectors.

He added: ”I love the thought of sharing the auction experience with my family. We’ve really all been in this together. In fact, my grandchildren know how to get my attention by just saying, ‘Opa, what new coins do you have?’ ”

A standout 1799 large cent

Among the top copper lots is a 1799 Draped Bust cent, S-189 as numbered in William Sheldon’s standard reference to the series, that is tied with several others as second finest known of the variety. 

Graded About Uncirculated Details, Environmental Damage, by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., it was previously owned by Joseph J. Mickley, who is often called the “Father of American Coin Collecting.” 

Mickley acquired this coin in 1859 and it later passed through the hands of many famed collectors including Lorin G. Parmelee and Virgil Brand. The coin’s provenance records that it was last offered publicly at a November 1995 Stack’s auction. 

Heritage provides an Early American Coppers grade of Very Fine 30 for the coin, noting that while it has details that fall solidly in the Extremely Fine grade range, light granularity is evenly distributed on both sides. Heritage offered a comparable example of this variety, graded EF-45 by Professional Coin Grading Service (but with an EAC grade of VF-25) at its Feb. 15, 2008, auction of Walter J. Husak’s collection. That piece brought $161,000, and the description noted: “Mint records provide no help in determining the mintage of cents dated 1799. The original records show that 904,585 cents were actually struck in 1799, but it is now recognized that nearly all of those coins were dated 1798. Current rarity estimates suggest that fewer than 1,000 cents exist with the 1799 date, including all three varieties, although only a small percentage grade better than Good.”

Stellar Seated Liberty coins

A top rarity among Gardner’s Seated Liberty coins is an 1870-S dollar graded EF-40 by PCGS. It is one of nine examples known from an issue that is considered the rarest regular issue U.S. silver dollar. It last sold at Heritage’s Jan. 12, 2014, Florida United Numismatists auction where it brought $763,750 and previously traded hands at Heritage’s 2008 auction of the Queller Family Collection where it brought $805,000. 

The issue was unknown to numismatists for decades after its striking, and Heritage cites frequent Coin World contributors Richard Kelly and Nancy Oliver who speculate that an 1870-S Seated Liberty silver dollar would have served as an excellent memento for the new San Francisco Mint building. Generally, the mintage is considered to be a dozen pieces and these were struck from a single set of dies. Each example has a small “S” Mint mark, with the likely reason being that since no silver dollars had been struck at the San Francisco Mint for more than a decade, a half dollar “S” punch was used for the Mint mark. Heritage adds that these mysteries, combined with the coin’s absolute rarity, provide intense historic interest. 

More from

The 34 million worth of silver coins from SS city of Cairo wreck have been melted

NGC identifies two 2014 American Eagle tenth-ounce gold bullion coins with narrow reeds

Voices: Langbord Case – What are those 1933 Saint – Gaudens double eagles worth?

The curious 1837 dime in an NGC black holder (or, when a coin in a MS-65 slab is valued like an MS-67)

First domestic case of ‘design creep’

Please sign in or join to share your thoughts on this story.

Keep up with all of's news and insights by signing up for our free eNewslettersliking us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter. We're also on Instagram!

Community Comments