16 Apr 2021
February 7, 2013 - Filed under: Antiques News — Richard

A five cent Liberty Head nickel illegally minted in 1912 is expected to realise at least $2.5m (around £1.6m) when it is sold at auction in April.

In Cumbria, an antique oak partners desk has quite a few uses – as a repository for unwanted foreign coins, for example. Sometimes, however, they can be worth more than the antique desk itself – as the owners of a supposedly fake American coin discovered recently.

The coin is a 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent piece; one of only five ever minted. They were struck illegally in 1912, using an altered die (1913 being the year when the Buffalo Head replaced the Liberty design). However, it is the coin’s unique provenance that will bump up the price.

It starts with George O. Walton, who paid $3,750 to have the coin in his antique cabinet in 1945. In 1962, he was tragically killed in a car crash while on his way to a numismatic fair. Among the $250,000 worth of antique coins scattered in the wreckage was the 1913 Liberty nickel.

The grieving family sold his collection a year later – but the nickel was returned, denounced as a fake. It remained in a closet for the next 40 years, until the American Numismatic Association decided to exhibit the entire set, and launched a hunt for the one missing coin. A quick consultation with Walton’s siblings revealed its whereabouts – and that his so-called worthless investment could be worth up to $5m (£3.2m) to a determined collector.

People who buy an antique mahogany partners desk from a Lancashire antiques dealer can be sure it, too, will have an interesting tale to tell.

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