The George O. Walton Specimen 1913 Liberty Head Nickel sold at auction on April 25, 2013 in Schaumburg, Illinois by Heritage Auctions for $3,172,500. Only five 1913 Liberty Head Nickel coins exist. Four of the famous coins are now in private hands and one in the Smithsonian museum.
The coin was purchased by Jeff Garrett of Mid-American Rare Coins Galleries of Lexington, KY. Garrett said he purchased the coin in partnership with Larry Lee of Coin and Bullion Reserves, Panama City, Florida.
George Walton was a good faith purchaser of the coin in the mid-1940’s for a reported $3,750.
In 1962 Walton was killed in a car crash with the coin in his possession. The coin was marked as a counterfeit by Walton, because he used to display it at coin shows and didn’t want to attract attention to the coin. There was some question to its authenticity by another collector in 1946.
For forty years the coin was placed in the closet of a Walton heir, Givens who thought the coin was counterfeit and was unaware of its value.
Secret Service agents from Richmond, Virginia even visited the Givens home knowing that they inherited some coins they thought were counterfeit and with altered dates. The Secret Service told them they could keep the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel as long as they didn’t try to sell it as genuine.
In 2003 the Walton 1913 Liberty Nickel was authenticated at an ANA coin show. This is the first time since, Eric Newman owned them from the Col. E.H.R. Green estate the coins were together.
The heirs wanted to right a 40 year wrong by fulfilling George O. Walton’s intentions of placing the coin on loan with a museum.
Walton’s heirs instead of selling the coin immediately displayed it with the American Numismatic Association, Boulder, CO. and Road Show museum for 10 years.
The Walton 1913 Liberty Nickel may be on display in Panama City, Fla. in the near future. Rhode Islanders interested in viewing an authentic 1913 Liberty Head Nickel need only to travel approximately 400 miles to Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian Institution Museum.
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