A rare, 1913 Liberty Head nickel that had been tucked away in a closet for 30 years sold for nearly $3.2 million at a Schaumburg auction, administered by Heritage Auctions, on Thursday.
The nickel, one of only five ever made, is believed to be illegally produced by a renegade Mint worker after the U.S Mint stopped making the Miss Liberty nickels in 1912. The worker went on to display the coins at an American Numismatic Association convention in Chicago and sold them over the next few years.
One of the coins found its way into the hands of former owner, George Walton, for a reported $3,750 in the mid-1940s. The coin was given to Walton’s sister, Melva Given, after Walton was killed in 1962 car crash. After it was deemed fake, she placed it in a padded enveloped, labeled "It’s not real," and put it in a closet, the Associated Press explained.
Given’s children discovered the coin after their mother’s death in 1992. They brought it to the 2003 ANA World's Fair of Money in Baltimore where the remaining four coins were being displayed.
David Hall of the Professional Coin Grading Service was one of the first to confirm the coin’s authenticity.
"The minute I looked at it, I was 99.9 percent (certain)," he told the Chicago Tribune.
While some of the siblings hoped to keep the coin in the family, they plan to split the proceeds equally.
Douglas Mudd, curator of the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo., told the Associated Press he believes the coin could exceed the auction’s expectation and produce up to $5 million.
The Walton nickel has been on loan to the Colorado Springs museum since its authentication, but will be available for purchase 8 p.m. Thursday during a coin and paper money auction at the Schaumburg Convention Center Wednesday through Sunday.