Famous Walton 1913 Liberty Nickel On Display in February 2013

The fabled Walton specimen 1913 Liberty Head nickel, recovered from a fatal car crash and then unsuspectingly kept in a Virginia closet for 41 years because it was mistakenly declared to be a fake, was displayed by Heritage Auctions during the first three days of the four-day Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo, March 14-17, 2013. It was expected to sell for $2.5 million or more in a public auction in Chicago in April.

From 2013:

“This is the third in a series of pre-auction, cross-country exhibitions of what undoubtedly is America’s most famous rare coin because of all the publicity it has generated since it was authenticated in Baltimore ten years ago after a nationwide search for it,” said Todd Imhof, Executive Vice President of Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas.

It will be displayed Thursday and Friday, March 14 and 15, and until about Noon on Saturday, March 16, at the Heritage Auctions booth #153 in Hall A of the Baltimore Convention Center.

One of only five known 1913 Liberty nickels, it was consigned by the heirs of George O. Walton, a North Carolina collector who acquired the coin in the mid 1940s for a reported $3,750. He had it with him when he was killed in a car crash on March 9, 1962. Newspaper reports of the accident recounted how law enforcement officers retrieved hundreds of coins scattered from the crash, including the 1913 Liberty nickel still in the custom-made plastic holder Walton kept it in.

“Our Mother (Melva Givens of Salem, Virginia) was one of Uncle George’s five heirs, and eventually she received the coin after being told it was suspected of being an altered date (fake),” said Ryan Givens of Salem, Virginia, one of Walton’s nephews who consigned the 1913 Liberty nickel to Heritage with his two sisters and his brother.

“She kept the nickel in a box with family items in the closet, and it stayed there for decades,” recalled Givens.

Following an Associated Press story in May 2003 about a minimum $1 million reward for the unaccounted for nickel, Walton’s heirs arranged to take the coin in July 2003 to the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money® in Baltimore. The four other surviving 1913 Liberty nickels were scheduled to be exhibited at the convention; their first time together in over 60 years.

In a secret midnight meeting in a security room in the Baltimore Convention Center, a team of rare coin experts assembled by Collectors Universe, Inc., the company offering the reward, examined the Walton coin and carefully compared it to the four other specimens, including one from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. After 40 minutes, they unanimously agreed the Walton nickel was the long-missing fifth coin.

This past January, the six experts who authenticated the coin in 2003 re-examined it, and the coin was certified PCGS Secure PR63 by Professional Coin Grading Service.


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