California Collector Pays Record $5 Million for Rare Nickel One of America's most famous rare coins, the finest known example of the legendary 1913 Liberty Head nickel, was purchased by a California collector for a record $5 million.
News-Antique.com - Apr 25,2007 - (Santa Barbara, California) -- Who says a nickel won't buy much these days? A Southern California collector has paid $5 million for a rare United States nickel, a record price for a five-cent coin.
"It's a 1913 Liberty Head nickel, the finest surviving example of only five known specimens that were made under mysterious circumstances at the Philadelphia Mint nearly a century ago," said Santa Barbara, California coin and jewelry merchant, Ronald J. Gillio, who negotiated the sale to the unnamed collector.
The sellers are Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey and Washington state business executive, Bruce Morelan. In May 2005 they jointly purchased the coin for a then-record price of $4,150,000.
"The 1913 Liberty Head nickels are among the world's most famous and valuable rare coins. This is the second highest price ever paid for any coin. The new owner is a Southern California resident and a dedicated collector of historic United States rare coins," said Gillio.
"I talked with the collector many times in recent months about this coin's legendary numismatic status, and he agreed to purchase it for $5 million," explained Gillio who recently was named Numismatic Acquisition Coordinator for Spectrum Numismatics International and Bowers and Merena Auctions. He also continues his role for Collectors Universe as General Chairman of the Long Beach and Santa Clara Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expos.
The unnamed collector took possession of the coin at an undisclosed Southern California location on Wednesday, April 25. The rare nickel was certified genuine and graded Proof-66 by experts at Professional Coin Grading Service of Newport Beach, California, one of the world's largest rare coin authentication companies.
In 1913 the United States Mint introduced a new design for nickels depicting a Native American Indian on the front and a bison on the back. However, some nickels were struck dated 1913 using the previous year's design of a symbolic "Miss Liberty."
Only five 1913 Liberty Head nickels are known today. Two are in permanent museum collections, one at The Smithsonian in Washington, DC, another at the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Previous owners of this particular 1913 Liberty Head nickel include the late Baltimore banker, Louis E. Eliasberg Sr., known to collectors for the extensive, one-of-everything collection he assembled before his death in 1976.
"We're pleased that this coin now is in the collection of another devoted numismatist. We hope he enjoys it as much as we did," said Laura Sperber, a partner in Legend Numismatics.
The world's record price for any rare coin is $7.59 million paid for a 1933 U.S. $20 denomination Double Eagle gold coin in July 2002.