Rare Nickel Fetches $3.1M At Auction

A rare nickel’s $3.1M price tag may seem steep, but the coin is one of only five known to exist.

The rare nickel that fetched $3.1 million at auction is a 1913 Liberty Head Nickel, and this particular coin has a colorful backstory predating its big auction yield.

In American numismatics, the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel is one of the “best-known and most coveted rarities,” having been minted “in extremely limited quantities unauthorized by the United States Mint.”

Expected to get about $2.5 million in this week’s auction, the rare Liberty Head Nickel’s $3.1 million score was more than had been anticipated by the Virginia siblings selling the piece.

USA Todayexplains that the rare nickel’s $3.1M final price is not only due to its inherent cachet. The particular nickel sold at auction had also had a colorful history itself since its minting 100 years ago:

” … It was surreptitiously and illegally cast, discovered in a car wreck that killed its owner, declared a fake, forgotten in a closet for decades then declared the real deal.”

The rare nickel auctioned this week was one of five known Liberty Head nickels, each whose history is traceable. The “Walton specimen” was the one considered most “elusive,” with the whereabouts of the Norweb, Olsen, Eliasberg and McDermott specimens known to coin enthusiasts for years.

After original owner George O. Walton died in a 1962 car crash in possession of the rare nickel and en route to a coin event, the rare nickel was mistakenly declared a fake and subsequently “lost” for four decades.

One of the siblings, Cheryl Myers, said of the auction and the price tag:

“The sad part is my mother had it for 30 years and she didn’t know it … Knowing our mother, she probably would have invested it for us. She always put her children first.”

Two men in a partnership purchased the rare nickel, making it the third of the five Liberty Head Nickels in a private collection.