RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A humble 5-cent coin with a storied past is headed to auction and bidding expected to top $2 million a century after it was mysteriously minted.
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 this spring in suburban Chicago.
"Basically a coin with a story and a rarity will trump everything else," said Douglas
Mudd, curator of the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo., which has held the coin for most of the past 10 years. He expects it
could fetch more than Heritage Auction’s estimate, perhaps $4 million and even up
to $5 million.
"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 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 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,
the same year the beloved Buffalo Head nickel was introduced.