Value of This Rare, Storied Nickel Will Blow Your Mind

Liberty Head nickel kept in closet for 41 years is worth $4.2 million
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2022 2:03 PM CDT
Value of This Rare, Storied Nickel: $4.2M
This Jan. 2, 2013, image shows the authentic 1913 Liberty Head nickel that was hidden in a Virginia closet for 41 years after its owners were mistakenly told it was a fake.   (AP Photo/courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

There are five US nickels dated 1913 that carry Lady Liberty on the front and a "V" on the back. Two are held in museums and a third just sold for a whopping $4.2 million—or 84,000,000 nickels. That's because the 1913 Liberty Head nickel is among the rarest US coins. The US nickel carried a depiction of Lady Liberty from 1883 until 1912, after which a new design was introduced. Mysteriously, however, some 1913 Liberty Head coins were unofficially struck—at least five of which remain in existence. The one sold to Ian Russell, President of GreatCollections in Irvine, Calif., has a unique past, having survived a car accident, only to be labeled a fake and tucked away for more than 40 years, per TMZ.

It was previously in the possession of collector George O. Walton when he died in a 1962 car crash. Recovered from the scene, it arrived in the hands of Walton's heirs, who were subsequently told it wasn't authentic, according to a GreatCollections release. For 41 years, Walton's sister reportedly kept the coin inside a closet in her Virginia home in an envelope marked "It's not real." Then in 2003, as nationwide interest in the coin was renewed, Walton's nephew and nieces submitted the nickel for authentication, learning it was in fact the real deal. A decade later, it was sold at auction for $3.1 million.

In 2018, it was acquired by the Firman family of Florida, who allowed it to be displayed at the American Numismatic Association's Money Museum in Colorado—where another example remains—and "in exhibits across the country," Ron Firman says in the release. His family chose to sell after four years. "But I doubt if any of the three 1913 Liberty Head nickels now in private hands will become available again for years," says Russell. He notes "this is the second one that I purchased in the past year on behalf of collectors." Another 1913 Liberty Head nickel, dubbed "the finest specimen known," sold for more than $4.5 million in 2018. It's now owned by Las Vegas collector Bruce Morelan. (Read more coins stories.)

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