Rare 5-cent coin could be worth $2,500,000
The 1913 Liberty Head nickel is one of only five known to exist, but it's the coin's back story that adds to its cachet. It was surreptitiously and illegally cast, discovered in a car wreck that killed its owner, declared a fake, forgotten in a closet for decades and then found to be the real deal.
It is expected to fetch $2.5 million or more when it goes on the auction block.
"Basically a coin with a story and a rarity will trump everything else," said Douglas Mudd, curator of the American Numismatic Association Money Museum.
"A lot of this is ego," he said of collectors who could bid for it. "I have one of these and nobody else does."
The nickel made its debut in a most unusual way. It was struck at the Philadelphia mint in late 1912, the final year of its issue, but with the year 1913 cast on its face. This was the same year the beloved Buffalo Head nickel was introduced.
Mudd said a mint worker named Samuel W. Brown is suspected of producing the coin and altering the die to add the bogus date.
The coins' existence wasn't known until Brown offered them for sale at the American Numismatic Association Convention in Chicago in 1920, beyond the statute of limitations. The five remained together under various owners until the set was broken up in 1942.
A North Carolina collector, George O. Walton, purchased one of the coins in the mid-1940s for a reported $3,750. The coin was with him when he was killed in a car crash on March 9, 1962, and it was found among hundreds of coins scattered at the crash site.
One of Walton's heirs, his sister, Melva Givens of Salem, Va., was given the 1913 Liberty nickel after experts declared the coin a fake because of suspicions the date had been altered. The flaw probably happened because of Brown's imprecise work casting the planchet - the copper and nickel blank disc used to create the coin.
"For whatever reason, she ended up with the coin," her daughter, Cheryl Myers, said.
Melva Givens put the coin in an envelope and stuck it in a closet, where it stayed for the next 30 years until her death in 1992.
Critical thinking challenge: Why does the nickel have a “V” on the back?
Define these words: numismatic, cachet, bogus
- Posted on January 29, 2013