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Tuesday 2 September 2014

1913 nickel poised to make a mint

Published 30/01/2013 | 05:40

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An authentic 1913 Liberty Head nickel that was hidden in a Virginia closet for 41 years (AP/courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

A humble five-cent coin with a mysterious past is heading to auction a century on, with bidding expected to top two million dollars.

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The 1913 Liberty Head nickel is one of only five known to exist, but it is the coin's back story that adds to its cachet.

It was surreptitiously and illegally cast, discovered in a car wreckage that killed its owner, declared a fake, forgotten in a closet for decades and then found to be the real deal.

It is expected to fetch 2.5 million dollars (£1.6 million) or more when it goes under the hammer on April 25 in suburban Chicago.

"Basically a coin with a story and a rarity will trump everything else," said Douglas Mudd, curator of the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which has held the coin for most of the past 10 years.

He expects it could bring more than Heritage Auction's estimate, perhaps four million dollars and even up to five million. "A lot of this is ego," he said of collectors who could bid for it. "I have one of these and nobody else does."

The sellers who will split the money equally are four Virginia siblings who never let the coin slip from their hands, even when it was deemed a fake.

The nickel made its debut in a most unusual way. It was struck at the Philadelphia mint in late 1912, the final year of its issue, but with the year 1913 cast on its face - the same year the beloved Buffalo Head nickel was introduced.

Mr Mudd said a mint worker, Samuel Brown, is suspected of producing the coin and altering the die to add the bogus date.

Press Association

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