US Coins

Exceptional coins featured at Gardner IV sale on October 28

The fourth part of Heritage’s sale of the Eugene H. Gardner Collection of U.S. Coins is set for auction in New York City on Oct. 28. 

The auction focuses on Gardner’s duplicates, upgrades and other pieces that were not part of his core sets, which have brought more than $47 million so far in the first three auctions. 

Heritage noted, “At one point, many of these coins were the premier coins in his main set until he found a better example. Of course, a duplicate in the eyes of Gene Gardner is nearly always a showpiece coin for other numismatists.” 

The auction features more than 1,000 lots in various denominations from half cents to Trade dollars, along with some classic era commemorative half dollars and gold coins. 

Perhaps to distinguish it from the recent auctions of coins from the collection of Eric P. Newman, which were all certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. prior to the sale, and the D. Brent Pogue auctions, where the coins were all certified by Professional Coin Grading Service, Heritage noted that the coins offered in the Gardner sales are generally in the same holders they occupied when they were purchased by the collector. 

Some impressive coins are among these backups. 

Gardner’s “other” 1871-CC Seated Liberty quarter dollar is graded About Uncirculated 55 by PCGS and has a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker. The coin is from a low mintage of just 10,890 pieces, making it one of the lowest mintage Seated Liberty quarter dollars. 

Examples in all grades today are scarce, with Heritage listing three Mint State examples known. It is rarer than the mintage would indicate, with fewer than 100 examples known today. 

Rusty Goe in his book The Mint on Carson Street indicates that many examples were likely melted in 1873 when the silver content for the quarter dollar and some other denominations was reduced slightly. He wrote in his book, “Today’s depleted populations of 1871-CC quarters imply that no more than 90 pieces ever escaped from storage vaults at the Carson Mint.”

The finest known example, graded MS-65 by PCGS, sold for $352,500 at Heritage’s June 2014 Gardner I auction. That example had previously sold for $345,000 at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ August 2012 American Numismatic Association auction of the Battle Born Collection, which was among the finest collections of Carson City Mint coins ever assembled. 

The example to be offered on Oct. 28 is the fourth finest known and was last offered at a June 2005 Heritage sale where it did not meet its reserve. Gardner purchased it from Legend Numismatics in 2009. 

In his comments on this coin, Gardner recalled a 1992 article by Doug Barr in the Liberty Seated Collectors Club’s Gobrecht Journal that provided a then-current condition census of this date, and Gardner reflected, “in the 20-plus intervening years, nothing seems to have changed,” adding, “The coin has remarkably clean surfaces free of nicks or marks, with only light rub on the high points of Liberty’s figure.”

One of two certified

Another significant Seated silver coin offered in Gardner IV is one of two certified Proof 1844 Seated Liberty half dollars, grading Proof 62 by NGC. It was purchased by Gardner from dealer Chris Napolitano in 2007. 

The finest known example was sold at the first Gardner auction in June 2014. That one, then-graded Proof 66 Cameo by NGC, has since been graded Proof 65 Cameo by PCGS. At that sale it sold for $79,312.50. The same example had previously sold at a January 2013 Heritage auction for $99,875. Before that, it was offered at Heritage Auctions’ January 2008 Florida United Numismatists auction where it sold for $149,500 with the buyer’s fee. 

These Proof half dollars were struck before Proofs were sold in an organized fashion by the U.S. Mint directly to collectors. The roster in Heritage’s catalog lists just five examples known, including one in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. 

Well-traveled dollar

Another pricey duplicate is Gardner’s Proof 1842 Seated Liberty dollar, graded Proof 62 by PCGS. The third Gardner auction offered an NGC Proof 65 1842 Seated Liberty dollar. Tied with another example for the finest known, his Proof 65 example sold for $58,750. Gardner had purchased that example, previously part of an 1842 Proof set, for $69,000 at Heritage’s April 2012 Central States Numismatic Society auction. 

Just 10 or so Proof 1842 Seated Liberty dollars are known, including one housed in the American Numismatic Society’s collection and another in the National Numismatic Collection. 

The example offered in Gardner IV is the fifth finest known. Since it was offered at David Akers’ 1998 auction of the John Jay Pittman Collection it has been offered at auction seven times. Most recently it sold at a 2009 Heritage auction for $20,700, and its most expensive transaction in recent memory was in 2004, when it realized $34,500 at a Bowers and Merena auction.

Gardner founded the investment advisory firm that is now Gardner Russo & Gardner in Lancaster, Pa., in 1968. On the sale of these collections he said, “I see these auctions as the culmination of a gratifying and absorbing collecting career.”

He added, “It allows me to introduce my largely-completed collection to the numismatic fraternity, which is very exciting to me. 

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