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
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
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
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
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