Gardner II Collection Powers To $13.8 Million In Big Apple

Posted on 10/30/2014

Baltimore Whitman Expo & Stacks Bowers Winter Sale Underway In Old-Line State; High-Grade Morgan Dollars A Tremendous Value

Two significant auction sales, an exciting World Series, and the last major show on the national circuit punctuated the end of October. The East Coast was the center of activity in the numismatic world as the Eugene H. Gardner Collection II US Coin Signature Auction, hosted by Heritage in New York City on October 27, courted an enthusiastic audience, both in person at the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and online. All told, the Gardner II generated a solid $13.8 million, while achieving an amazing 100% sell through rate. Encompassing 635 painstakingly assembled lots featuring copper, nickel, and silver coins, the sale was a veritable feast for collectors and dealers looking to acquire some of the finest known and most beautifully preserved US rarities and type coins one could hope for!

Leading the way for NGC in the formidable sale, the always coveted Draped Bust Small Eagle Half Dollar. This coin a decidedly original mint state representative 1796 15 Stars variety graded NGC MS 62. Capturing $282,000, it was a strong showing which is equal to the sum realized by the Eric P. Newman specimen of like grade which appeared on the block nearly one year ago.

Another powerful highlight of the NGC parade was the finest known 1871-CC Liberty Seated Dime. Although lower grade Mint State examples appear every so often at auction, this was, perhaps, a once-in-a-generation event and a superb opportunity for the collector or specialist. Graded NGC MS 65, this exquisitely preserved and miraculously toned artifact of the famed Carson City facility stands as the finest known survivor of this unquestioned key date of the CC dime series. When all the action was in, the price realized was a record $270,250!

Lively floor bidding and an intense Internet presence targeted numerous elite and seldom offered quality NGC-certified numismatic slabs. A beautiful rainbow-patinated 1824/2 Capped Bust Dime, graded NGC MS 66, roared to a record $70,500. This coin, the finest known according to the NGC US Coin Census, is just exquisite and the type of coin which will be remembered, if and when it makes another appearance in the future.

Conversely, the unique 1839 No Drapery Liberty Seated Quarter graded NGC PF 65, (the Boyd-Pittman-Kaufman coin) captured $270,250. While sporting a hefty price tag, this was approximately half of the price realized for the same quarter at the Central States sale in April 2008 ($517,500) which was arguably at the height of the rare coin market price tier. The coin subsequently appeared again last year, also at the Central States auction in April of 2013, where she captured $411,250. Based on these sale figures, is one to interpret that the coin was overvalued in its two previous appearances? If so, what about today’s market, and is this coin still overvalued? In my opinion, the answer is no. I believe that the market has adjusted appropriately, and the 1839 Quarter was a phenomenal buy for the bidder in 2014. Considering the extreme rarity, pedigree, and visual attributes of this particular coin, I think if it is held in strong hands for five or more years, the next time she appears, price acceleration is almost a certainty.

As a sage collector friend of many years recently opined, “Keep your eyes open, and buy when something catches them, either in a dealer’s showcase or at auction. If the coin is rare, that is great too, but if you can’t afford five and six figure coins, there is also great value in coins in the $500-$5,000 price range. After all, the six figure coins of today weren’t always six figures…” How true, my friend. One of the problems of so many of the newer circle of collectors/investors, is the tendency to buy now and try to sell now while looking for an immediate profit. This isn’t what coin collecting is about. By all my experiences, if you take time and assemble a collection wisely, you will be rewarded when it comes time to liquidate your holdings.

Other NGC highlights from the Gardner II Collection:

  • 1796 With Pole Half Cent NGC MS 61 BN $129,250
  • 1794 Head of 1794 Large Cent NGC MS 64 BN $76,375
  • 1796 S-88 Liberty Cap Large Cent NGC MS 63 BN $58,750
  • 1798/7 Draped Bust Large Cent NGC MS 63 RB $47,000
  • 1858/7 Flying Eagle Cent NGC MS 65
  • 1864 Three Cent Silver NGC MS 68 $13,513
  • 1858 Three Cent Silver NGC PF 67 $13,513
  • 1795 Flowing Hair Half Dime NGC MS 66 $76,275
  • 1800 Bust Half Dime NGC MS 65 $55,813
  • 1801 Bust Half Dime NGC MS 67 $164,500
  • 1801 Bust Dime NGC MS 65 $111,625
  • 1838 No Drapery Liberty Seated Dime NGC PF 67 Cameo $164,500
  • 1804 Draped Bust Quarter NGC MS 63 $152,750
  • 1822 25 Over 50 Capped Bust Quarter NGC MS 65 $123,375
  • 1823/2 Capped Bust Quarter NGC MS 61 $188,000
  • 1821 Capped Bust Quarter NGC PF 65 $94,000
  • 1872-S Liberty Seated Quarter NGC MS 66 $44,063
  • 1893-O Barber Quarter NGC MS 68 $23,500
  • 1873 No Arrows, Open 3 Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC MS 61 $55,813
  • 1839 Drapery Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 64 $99,875
  • 1853 Arrows and Rays Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 65 $117,500
  • 1899 Barber Half Dollar NGC PF 69 $44,063
  • 1870-CC Liberty Seated Dollar NGC MS 64 $117,500
  • 1872-CC Liberty Seated Dollar NGC MS 64 $111,625

Rounding out the fall season is this year's final installment of the Whitman Baltimore Expo, which is underway as we go to press. This will be the last major show of the year that will attract all the national players. It also means, perhaps, the last opportunity for many dealers to bolster their inventories and prepare for what purportedly will be a busy winter season leading into 2015 and the winter FUN show.

Although the metals markets have been in the doldrums over the last several months, the lack of direction and stimulus has not had a nefarious effect on the rare coin market. In fact, many individuals with whom I’ve spoken are pleased to be able to buy double eagles and silver dollars at lower levels. Beth, the wife of a New England collector, advised, “Not only are they shiny and pretty, (referring to the $20 Saint-Gaudens), I can finally afford to buy one for a gift for him. I was able to pick up an NGC MS 63 at $1,280. I recall the last time I looked and considered getting one, it was in August, and MS 63s were running about $200 more than they are now.”

Silver, of course, is also quite attractive. Presently, many serious collectors are looking at salting away some of the more generic junk silver, as well as mid-range mint state Morgan and Peace Dollars at current levels.

A well-known dealer advised that he personally believes that the MS 66, as well as MS 67 Morgan Dollars as type coins, are tremendous values as we close out the year. “I mean, NGC MS 66 slabs going at $250, and really spectacular MS 67s are selling in the $650 range. I’m telling you, there are still so many Morgan Dollar collectors out there that are looking to cherry pick inventory, and at these levels, both MS 66 and MS 67s are going to be pretty hard to replace in the not too distant future.”

I tend to agree with the dealer, based purely on numbers. MS 65 Morgan Dollar type coins are trading in the $125-$130 range. According to the NGC US Coin Census, there over 4.5 times as many MS 65s as there are MS 66s, and when you get to the MS 67 range, there are nearly 24.5 times as many MS 65s as in the MS 67 designation

For dealers and collectors, there will be a superb opportunity to traipse up and down the bourse floor, as well as participate in the great Stack's Bowers Winter 2014 Baltimore Auction, running October 29-31, concluding with an online only session on November 4. For those of you in Baltimore, please take time to view some of the phenomenal lots up for bid, and for those of you who cannot attend, I suggest a viewing of the online catalog. This is an excellent and diverse sale which contains numerous finest known examples, a wide range of rarities, as well as collector coins at all price points, certainly something to entice and excite collectors coast to coast.

The Stack's Bowers Winter 2014 Baltimore Auction NGC highlights include:

  • 1869 Three Cent Silver NGC PF 68 Cameo (finest known, spectacular toning!)
  • 1876 Shield Nickel NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo (not only the finest graded of this centennial year nickel, but it is also one of only two coins in the entire Shield Nickel series that are graded PF 68 Ultra Cameo)
  • 1925-S Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 66 (tied for the finest known)
  • 1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo Nickel NGC MS 64
  • 1866 Liberty Seated Half Dime NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo (spectacular blazing white frost Ultra Cameo, tied for finest known)
  • 1853 Arrows Liberty Seated Dime NGC PF 65 (tied for the finest known)
  • 1850-O Liberty Seated Quarter NGC MS 66 (the finest known example)
  • 1893 Isabella Quarter NGC PF 65 Cameo (the finest known and only designated coin as a Cameo)
  • 1846 Medium Date Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 63
  • 1882 Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 68 (tied for finest known; for reference, there only 24 coins in the entire Liberty Seated Half Dollar series that have achieved the NGC PF 68 grade)
  • 1879-S Morgan Dollar NGC MS 66
  • 1901 Liberty Quarter Eagle NGC PF 67
  • 1894 Liberty Half Eagle NGC PF 67 Ultra Cameo (the finest known)
  • 1843 Liberty Eagle NGC MS 60
  • 1859-S Liberty Eagle NGC AU 53
  • 1893 Liberty Eagle NGC PF 65 Ultra Cameo
  • 1892-S Liberty Double Eagle NGC MS 65 (only a single coin is graded one point higher)
  • 1908 No Motto Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle NGC MS 68 (tied for finest known)
  • 1852 .900 Thous US Assay Office $50 NGC MS 63

According to Stack's Bowers president, the amiable Brian Kendrella, “We are looking forward to a very exciting Baltimore Sale.” I certainly concur, based on the scope and quality of this sale running through All Hallows' Eve; it should be a treat for all.

Until next time, happy collecting!

Jim Bisognani has written extensively on US coin market trends and values and was the market analyst and writer for a major pricing guide for many years. He currently resides in Southern California and frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.

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