A rare Liberty Head nickel is making its way to auction, where it could fetch millions of dollars for its owners.
The 1913 nickel is only one of five known of its kind, created, scholars believe, when a mint worker illegally cast the coin in 1912.
According to the Associated Press, the coin’s value is due to its unique history. A mint worker named Samuel W. Brown is suspected of secretly producing a set of five Liberty Head coins dated 1913 — the year that the Buffalo Nickel was due to go into circulation, and one in which there were no official Liberty Head coins minted. Brown sold the set in 1920 at the American Numismatic Association Convention in Chicago, where it passed through various owners until the collection was split up.
This is where things get interesting: A collector by the name of George O. Walton ended up purchasing the coin in question in the mid-1940s. In 1962, Walton died in a car crash; he happened to have the nickel on him at the time, and that coin, along with hundreds of others, was given to his sister Melva Givens.
But at the time, the coin was believed to be a fake; Givens stuck the 1913 nickel in an envelope and put it in a closet, where it remained until she died in 1992. It wasn’t until Givens’ death that her four children took it to an appraiser at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in 2003. It was, indeed, deemed the missing coin and was reunited with its four brethren.
The coin will be sold on April 25 at a numismatic auction at Heritage Auction house in Chicago where it’s expected to fetch several million dollars. “Basically a coin with a story and a rarity will trump everything else,” Douglas Mudd, curator of the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo., told the Associated Press.
Very few coins reportedly fetch these kind of bids. A $20 gold coin, the 1933 double eagle, currently holds the record for $8 million.
“This is a trophy item that sort of transcends the hobby,” Imhof, the director of the auction house, added. “It’s an interesting part of American history and there are collectors who look for something like this.”