Over the last few years and in the coming few years, we are being
treated to multiple major collections coming to auction.
The sales of collections assembled by Eugene Gardner, Eric P. Newman and Donald G. Partrick, along with the collections
of the Pogue family and the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, continue to
energize our market by providing fresh material. But the sale of so
many great collections will also force buyers to make tough decisions
on what they can, and can’t, buy.
Even great collectors have to make tough decisions. Gene Gardner is
a longtime coin collector who started in the 1940s when he was 5 years
old. He recalled in a recent interview in Heritage’s
Intelligent Collector magazine that in the
1950s coin prices were different than today. “If you spent $10 or $15
on a coin, that was something,” he recalled. He sold some of his
collection in 1965 at a Stack’s auction, and he stopped collecting
“totally cold turkey.” He returned to collecting in the 1990s, and
after dealing with some sticker shock, he started taking advantage of
buying opportunities such as Bowers and Merena’s auctions of the Louis Eliasberg Collection.
His collection is especially strong in Seated Liberty coins. He
developed a fondness for the quarter dollars, in large part because he
was constantly told that it was the toughest series to complete in
One doesn’t build this type of collection without effort. Gardner
estimates that he’s probably bid in every auction over the past 15 to
20 years. Of course, a few did get away, like the unique 1873-CC
Seated Liberty, No Arrows dime that went for $1.8 million at a 2012
auction. Gardner focused on buying the exceptional Seated Liberty
quarter dollars from that collection but let the dime slip away. Even
the top collectors have to make decisions on how to best allocate
In a collection of 3,000 coins how does one pick a favorite? For
Gardner, it’s his 1901-S Barber quarter dollar graded Mint State 67.
It sold for $258,500 at the first Heritage auction of his collection
on June 23. He said, “It is truly hypnotic to look at. The colors are
beautiful. It’s hard to capture in a still photograph, but when you
have the coin in hand, you can see it.”
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