Seated Liberty quarter dollars from the Carson City Mint were not the only highlights of the Gardner IV auction.
Heritage’s fourth and final auction of coins from the collection of Pennsylvania numismatist Eugene H. Gardner featuring duplicates, upgrades and specialty pieces not part of his core sets brought $5,883,788 on Oct. 28 in New York.
Tied at $76,375 with an 1873-CC Seated Liberty, Arrows at Date quarter dollar, as the second-top lot at Gardner IV, was another quarter dollar, this one an 1820 Capped Bust, Medium 0 quarter dollar (classified as Browning 3 in the guide to the series), graded MS-66 by PCGS with a green CAC sticker that also brought $76,375. It is tied for the finest known, along with six other submissions at PCGS with Numismatic Guaranty Corp. registering two in MS-67 in its population reports.
Heritage notes that while the Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”) lists just the Small 0 and Large 0 varieties, specialists break the date into three distinct varieties, including a Medium 0 variety, with the lot description adding, “if the Medium 0 B-3 variety ever makes it into the Guide Book as a separate variety as well, it could spell good things for high-grade examples such as this piece.”
While silver coins dominated the top lots of the sale, copper and gold coins were also included with the top nonsilver lot being a 1914-D Indian Head gold $2.50 quarter eagle graded PCGS MS-65 CAC that sold for $35,250. It is tied with several dozen others as the finest graded at PCGS and is one of just four in this grade with a CAC sticker. Heritage’s description adds that the issue is typically found heavily abraded with copper spots and population reports confirm that most Mint State examples cluster in the MS-60 to MS-63 range. It was offered as part of a complete set of Indian Head gold $2.50 quarter eagles, which Heritage called “a passing fancy, perhaps, to Gene Gardner (who specialized in the silver series).”
Something for everyone
The more than 1,000 lots offered at the Gardner IV sale were not all rarities and Heritage characterized it as “literally a sale for everyone.” As evidence of this, the sale even offered a few coins that were affordable for nearly all budgets, such as a 1904 Indian Head cent graded MS-63 red and brown by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. with a green CAC sticker that brought $103.40, which represents a slight premium over what other comparable examples have sold for in recent auctions.
Beyond Indian Head cents, many of the lower-priced coins included Liberty Head 5-cent pieces and even some classic era silver commemorative coins. Those looking for a representative of the Gardner Collection could find dozens of coins at reasonable price levels, such as a 1911 Liberty Head 5-cent piece graded MS-63 by PCGS with vivid rainbow toning on both the obverse and reverse that brought $211.50. A nicely toned, but somewhat weakly struck 1908 Liberty Head 5-cent piece grading PCGS MS-63 brought $366.60, representing multiples of what a typical example in this grade might bring.
A gentleman in numismatics
In its introduction, Heritage noted that the Gardner pedigree would stand among the elite numismatic collections of all time, and that the four auctions would be rank among “the most memorable and important numismatic auctions of all time — certainly in terms of prices realized, but more importantly for the sheer scope, completeness, and extraordinary quality of the coins presented.” Heritage’s President Greg Rohan added, “I met Gene 28 years ago, and when [New York dealer] Tony Terranova introduced us he whispered in my ear ‘Gene Gardner is the finest gentleman in numismatics. He’s royalty,’” with Rohan concluding, “Working with Gene and his family, and this collection, has been the most enjoyable experience I had had in my four decades as a numismatist.”