America's Most Fascinating Nickel Set to Fetch Millions

Liberty Head was illegally cast, deemed fake. Now it's for sale

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jan 29, 2013 3:44 PM CST

(Newser) – A humble five-cent coin with a storied past is headed to auction a century after it was mysteriously minted, and bidding is expected to top $2 million. 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 all adds up to an expected sale of $2.5 million or more when it goes on the auction block April 25 in suburban Chicago.

The sellers who will split the money equally are four Virginia siblings who never let the coin slip from their hands, even when it was deemed a fake. The nickel was struck at the Philadelphia mint in late 1912, the final year of its issue, but with the year 1913 cast on its face. A mint worker named Samuel W. Brown is suspected of producing the coin and altering the die to add the bogus date. The five remained together under various owners until the set was broken up in 1942. Click for more on the coin's unusual history, which includes a 1962 car crash and 30 years spent in an envelope.

An authentic 1913 Liberty Head nickel, one of only five known and expected to sell for $2.5 million or more in an auction in Schaumburg, Ill., on April 25, 2013.   ((AP Photo/courtesy of Heritage Auctions.))
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