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Nickel Sells for $3.2 Million
By David C. Harper, Numismatic News
May 03, 2013

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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When the auctioneer’s hammer fell April 25 at Heritage Auction’s Central States Numismatic Society sale, a Proof-63 1913 Liberty Head nickel sold for $3,172,500.

This was the final chapter in a family saga that stretched over almost 70 years.

George Walton’s nickel had been acquired by him for $3,750 worth of other coins in either 1945 or 1946. His records were not precise.

He was killed in a 1962 automobile accident in North Carolina. The nickel went to his sister, who kept it in a closet for many years after having been told it was an altered date. It fell off the numismatic radar for 41 years.

The coin passed to his nieces and nephews after she died, and three of them were present in a packed ballroom at the Renaissance Convention Center in Schaumburg, Ill.

Auctioneer Bob Merrill opened the coin at $2.2 million and bids ascended in $100,000 increments. The final two bids came in $50,000 steps.

With the final bid of $2.7 million, the coin went to Jeff Garrett, Lexington, Ky., coin dealer and member of the board of governors of the American Numismatic Association.

“I bought it in partnership with a really good friend of mine,” Garrett said afterwards.

For a few seconds, he hesitated, thinking it better not to identify the partner at least until he notified him of his successful bid, but then he relented and identified the partner as Larry Lee of the Coin and Bullion Reserve of Panama City, Fla.

Garrett also said of the nickel, “It is one of the greatest coins at that price range.”

Walton nephew Ryan Givens was feeling a bit wistful about a coin that had been in his family for so many years.

He approached Garrett outside the auction room after the sale. Along with his sister, Cheryl Myers, her husband, Gary, and sister Betty, he has been the family face of a nickel that had been thought lost for 41 years until they brought it to the American Numismatic Association convention in Baltimore in 2003. Six hobby experts huddled there and compared it to the other four 1913 nickels before declaring it genuine.

In a quiet voice that was out of earshot of many in the group of people around Garrett, Givens said, “I’m glad Jeff got it because he is one of the crew who authenticated it 10 years ago.”

Indeed he was, along with Paul Montgomery, David Hall, John Dannreuther, Fred Weinberg and Mark Borckardt.

The Heritage CSNS sales realized over $57 million, which rose to $69 million when combined with a week’s worth of sales activity. There were seven featured lots that all brought prices realized exceeding $1 million each, the first time such an outcome has been achieved, the firm noted. Three were in the Heritage paper money sale.

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