1913 Nickels Have Storied Pedigrees|
May 13, 2013
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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One of America’s rarest coins, the 1913 Liberty nickel, was sold at auction April 25 by Heritage for $3,172,500 as the Central States Numismatic Association hosted its annual convention that included the premiere auction sale that attracted thousands of views on the auction’s internet site that fostered a $2 million opening bid.
Winning co-bidders were Jeff Garrett, 54, of Lexington, Ky. and Larry Lee, 63, of Panama City, Fla. Both Garrett and Lee are members of the Professional Numismatists Guild; Garrett is also a current member of the board of governors of the American Numismatic Association.
A month before his 103rd birthday, coins from Eric P. Newman’s extensive collection were also on the auction block at Chicago’s Central State show. Coincidently, between 1941 and 1948 Newman owned all five known examples of the 1913 Liberty nickel, first in partnership with St. Louis coin dealer Burette Johnson, then in his own collection. Even after the other four were disbursed, he retained one piece for his personal collection, though he eventually sold it through Stack’s to collector Louis Eliasberg.
The coin’s history is characterized by what Walter Breen, a respected researcher, terms a “fantasy” issue, and what collectors like the late John Pittman, president of the America Numismatic Associaition from 1971-1973 called a “back door job” at the Mint. They were probably struck at the Mint from mint-made dies around 1920.
The coins have been owned by famous dealers like Abe Kosoff and James Kelley, and collectors like Fred (F.C.C.) Boyd, King Farouk, Will W. Neill, Louis Eliasberg, and Mrs. Emery Norweb.
Today, two of the five coins are in museums. Aubrey and Adeline Beebe donated theirs to the ANA Museum in Colorado Springs. The Norweb Family donated theirs to the Smithsonian Institution.
There have been about 25 publicized sales since the 1940s involving the 1913 Liberty nickel.
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