The highest graded piece offered at Heritage Auctions' Oct. 27 sale of the
collection of numismatist Eugene Gardner was an 1899 Barber half
dollar certified Proof 69 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. with a green
Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker indicating quality within the
grade. (For more highlights see "Ten 1796 Liberty Cap large cents show depth of
collector's holdings" and "Two rarities each bring $282,000.")
Described as “essentially perfect” with “vivid gold, delicate lilac,
and sky-blue toning,” it is one of just five half dollars graded Proof
69 by NGC. When offered by Bowers and Merena at a 1998 auction it was
the only Barber half dollar graded Proof 69. The catalog also notes
that Scott Travers, best-known as author of The Coin Collector’s Survival Manual,
considers this coin to be a
perfect Proof 70.
It was obtained directly from the Philadelphia Mint in 1899 by John
Story Jenks and was offered in Henry Chapman’s December 1921 sale of
the Jenks Collection. When offered by Bowers and Merena in 1998 it
sold for $39,100 and here it brought $44,062.50.
An exceptional 1801 Draped Bust half dime
It’s a bit wild to consider that an 1801 Draped Bust half dime more
than two centuries old can exist in nearly perfect condition. The
auction had numerous coins grading Mint State and Proof 67 and finer,
including an 1801 Draped Bust half dime graded MS-67 by NGC that sold
for $164,500. It was last offered at Bowers and Merena’s August 1998
Rarities Sale where it sold for $112,500.
Like many of the coins in the Gardner Collection, it has beautiful
toning that Heritage described as follows: “The well-preserved
surfaces are blanketed in attractive shades of ice-blue, sea-green,
and russet toning, with vibrant mint luster underneath. No mentionable
distractions are evident and eye appeal is terrific.” The half dime is
the finest known by a substantial margin.