Rare 1913 Nickel Sold for $3.1 Million
Posted by Brian Ford on April 26, 2013
Once mistakenly declared a fake by New York experts, a rare 1913 Liberty Head Nickel safeguarded by the Virginia family of an eccentric coin collector has sold at auction for $3.1 million on Thursday.
The Chicago Tribune identified the buyers as Jeff Garrett, owner of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries located in Lexington, and Larry Lee, resident of Panama City, Florida. Garrett also co-authored a book in 2010 about buying and selling gold and is the founder of the Bluegrass Coin Club.
There are only five known examples of the rare 1913 Liberty Head Nickel, a coin which should not technically exist. Following the Liberty Head series that was minted through 1912, the U.S. Mint changed the design of the nickel. An employee of the Mint, to whom the five nickels have been traced, allegedly changed the dates and illegally cast the nickels.
The story of the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel that sold at auction adds to its value. After the coin was discovered on the side of a North Carolina highway following a car accident that killed its then-owner, it was declared a fake by coin experts in New York, placed in the closet of a Virginia farmhouse, forgotten for forty years, and then only recently found to be genuine.
Colonel Green was the original owner of the coin, an avid collector of curious artifacts. A rare coin dealer bought the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel following Green’s death after assessing his estate. George Walton, the eccentric original owner of the coin, reportedly bought the coin from that dealer in the mid-1940s for $3,750. Following his death in a 1962 car crash, the coin spent forty years in the Virginia farmhouse of his heirs.
The four Virginia siblings who safeguarded the coin banded together in order to prove the coin’s authenticity while avoiding family disputes that might have seen the coin sold for significantly less than its true value.
On Thursday, the coin was sold after almost a half-century in the family at an auction of rare coins and currency in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, selling for much more than the expected $2.5 million.