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The $2 Million Nickel

14 posts in this topic

Original Post - Yahoo!


George Walton loved nothing more than collecting rare coins, and when the North Carolina dealer was killed in a car accident in 1962, his extended family inherited a princely sum.


Among the pieces was one of five Liberty Head nickels bearing the date 1913.


As the story goes, the main U.S. coin between 1883 and 1912 was the Liberty Head, which was replaced in 1913 by the Indian/Buffalo coin.


"There weren't supposed to be any 1913 Liberty Head nickels made," Givens explains, "but there was a period of time that the U.S. Mint said, 'Let's wait and see what we can do with it,'" and the Mint held onto the dies.


About five years later, a U.S. Mint employee used the dies to create five 1913 Liberty Head coins, perhaps in a shady move to trigger his own collecting craze. Givens says the Mint would contend they were never printed, but this made the coins even more desirable to collectors. When Walton lucked into the nickel in 1945, he cherished it with all his heart, taking great care to remind his family that he was sitting on a fortune.


Givens never doubted Uncle George, but the host of auctioneers who appraised the nickel in 1962 after Walton's death felt differently. Something was amiss, and so it was left to gather dust in Givens's mother's closet, where she kept it for 40 years.


In 1992, Givens' mother passed away and in a strange twist of fate, the coin collecting community renewed its interest in the mysterious nickels, which were now said to be worth millions.


"I didn't pay attention to it until a gentleman asked me if I had it or knew where it was," says Givens. "He offered $5,000, but I told him I couldn't sell it and he'd have to ask my family."


But Givens couldn't shake the idea that the nickel might be the real thing. When the fourth Liberty Head nickel sold in 1993, he had to find out for sure.


"It was fun to imagine it to be real, even though I knew it wasn't, but the more I looked at it, the more I couldn't find anything wrong with it," he says.


Ten years later, it all came together.


On a fateful night, Givens attended the American Numismatic Association's annual convention in July, where there was to be a great display of all four Liberty Head nickels. A little while before an editor at Coin World had wanted to do a piece on the altered-date coins, and had her reporter tap Givens's sister, Cheryl Myers, for an interview about Uncle George. The editor also had an idea to have Myers feature the coin in the ANA's display because after all, it was part of the story.


But what happened next took everyone by surprise.


In an effort to find the missing nickel, the coin dealing firm Bowers and Merena, with the help of Donn Pearlman, offered a $1 million bounty to whoever could come forward with the authentic piece. With all the coins now in one place at the convention, a group of six professional appraisers, as well as Pearlman and Givens, examined Walton's coin. And after hours of comparing and contrasting, what they found took the coin collecting world by storm—the coin was the one.


"It vindicated Uncle George," says Givens.


Today, the George Walton Nickel is still owned by the Givens family, but travels to exhibits around the country. It is currently on display at the Money Museum in Colorado.


"It's just an interesting coin to look at, and from our point of view, it's even more interesting because of the mystery of when they tried to authenticate it in 1962," Givens says. "It's something that's done a lot for the family, and it was good for my uncle—usually people forget collectors, but his name came back in the news. Mainly it's the story behind it, what's happened to it, where it's been."



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I searched and I couldn't find any mention of an estimated grade.


If I recall correctly when I was at the ANA museum it looked like a high AU, Low MS?

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And right you are OP

The five known examples are

The Norweb./ smithsonian PR60

The Olsen/Hawn PR 64

The Eliasberg PR66

The Walton PR62

The Mcdermott /ANA PR55


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I was reading about this coin in the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins book just yesterday morning. Interesting story, and insanely expensive coins in that book. Other than a couple of Lincoln cents, I don't think there's anything in there for less than $25k a piece.

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I think it is the Elisaberg specimen. I seem to recall a post about it being previously in a NGC PF65 holder and receiving an upgrade (I think it is in a PCGS PR66 holder now). I believe the original poster was TDN. I hope I"m not mistaken.

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