A rare century-old U.S. nickel that was once mistakenly declared a fake and forgotten about for decades has sold at auction for more than $3.1 million.
The 1913 Liberty Head nickel is one of only five known to exist. But it’s all the more prized because of its unusual back story: 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 declared the real deal.
It was offered up for sale Thursday by four Virginia siblings at a rare coin and currency auction in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg where it sold for well over the expected $2.5 million.
The winning bidders were two men from Lexington, Ky., and Panama City, Fla., who bought the coin in partnership, according to Heritage Auctions.
“Not only is it just one of only five known, genuine 1913-dated Liberty Head design nickels, this particular one was off the radar for decades until it literally came out of the closet after a nationwide search,” said Heritage Auctions Vice President Todd Imhof.
The coin 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.
A mint worker named Samuel W. Brown is suspected of producing the coin and altering the die to add the bogus date, according to Douglas Mudd, curator of the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Col., which has held the coin for most of the past 10 years.
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