1913 Liberty Nickel Coin Leads Heritage Central States Event

The Walton specimen of the 1913 Liberty nickel, graded PR63 by PCGS and one of only five known, will be sold at public auction for the first time at the Official Auction of the Central States Numismatic Society’s Annual Convention, presented by Heritage Auctions, April 24 — 26, with Platinum Night scheduled for the evening of April 25.

1913 Liberty Nickel Coin

1913 Liberty Nickel Coin

“The 1913 Liberty nickel is one of the most famous U.S. coins ever struck,” said Todd Imhof, President of Heritage, “and the Walton specimen has the most dramatic story of the five examples known.”

George O. Walton was on his way to a coin show in 1962 when he died in a car accident. His 1913 Liberty nickel was recovered from the wreck and returned to his family. It was sent to an auction house, but returned as a fake — an error that led collectors to believe that one of the five 1913 Liberty nickels was lost and possibly gone forever.

Walton’s heirs held onto the nickel, though, and in 2003, an offer meant as a publicity stunt led to a stunning reunion.

“The other four 1913 Liberty nickels were brought together for the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money, which was held in Baltimore that year,” said Imhof. “A reward was offered for the ‘missing’ fifth nickel, $10,000 just to be the first to see it. Nobody expected two of George O. Walton’s heirs to show up with their uncle’s nickel, much less for a collection of coin experts assembled for a midnight authentication session to declare it genuine.”

The rediscovered 1913 Liberty nickel was displayed at the convention alongside the other four and later lent to the American Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs, CO, where it was on display for nearly a decade. This is its first appearance at auction.

Selected coins collected by famous numismatic scholar and philanthropist Eric P. Newman, a centenarian who is a founding member of the Central States Numismatic Society and the last person to own all five 1913 Liberty nickels, are a collective highlight of equal importance to the Walton 1913 Liberty nickel’s auction debut.

Items being sold are from the extensive collection of Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (a Missouri not-for-profit corporation) and have been assembled over a period of 90 years. Proceeds of the sale of all items will be used exclusively for the benefit of other not-for-profit institutions selected by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society for public purposes and also for supplementing the Society’s own museum operations and scholarly research efforts.

“Everyone who has studied U.S. coins has been touched by Eric P. Newman’s research,” said Jim Halperin, Co-Chairman of Heritage. “He is a titan of numismatics and one of the hobby’s greatest treasures. We are honored to participate in a sale that will help many worthy causes, including Eric’s tradition of adding to our knowledge about the history of money. The Newman family’s generosity is nothing short of inspiring.”

The vast majority of the Selections From The Eric P. Newman Collection are pattern or experimental coins. Top highlights include an 1877 quarter dollar with William Barber’s “Sailor Head” portrait of Liberty struck in copper, Judd-1500 variety, graded PR65 Red NGC and easily the finest known example out of just eight confirmed; and an 1879 metric twenty dollar or “Quintuple Stella” struck in copper, Judd-1644 variety, graded PR64+ Red and Brown NGC.

“The U.S. Mint’s coinage experiments shed light on the coins they produced for commerce,” said Halperin. “It is only natural that Eric P. Newman has taken great interest in them.”

A single Territorial gold coin from The Eric P. Newman Collection caused a stir as soon as it was certified. An 1852 Humbert ten dollar coin, Kagin-10 variety, was graded MS68 NGC, CAC, the first California private or Territorial gold coin to be certified as MS68 by a major service. The coin was retained by Augustus Humbert, United States Assayer of Gold for California in the early 1850s, and passed into his estate. In a relatively short pedigree punctuated by long stretches of ownership are several famous collecting names, including Waldo Newcomer, “Colonel” E.H.R. Green, and of course, Eric P. Newman. Its offering at auction is an unprecedented opportunity for serious collectors.

Early American coinage is well-represented in the event. The unique 1783 Nova Constellatio Type Two “Quint” in Silver, AU53 PCGS. The 13 former colonies each used a different monetary system at the time, and the Nova Constellatio patterns were based on a complicated system of 1,440 units to a Spanish dollar that would accommodate 12 of them. This 500-unit pattern, or “quint,” is unique and has been owned by several famous collectors including John Work Garrett, who donated his collection to Johns Hopkins University. The University’s sale of this coin in November 1979 was its most recent auction appearance.

The Bushnell-Parmelee-Green-Norweb specimen of the 1792 Judd-1 silver center cent, MS61+ Brown NGC, is one of the first experimental coins made under the authority of the Mint Act of 1792. Its unusual appearance, with a small silver “plug” in the middle of a wider copper body, was an attempt to reduce the weight of the cent by adding a small amount of precious metal. Graded MS61+ Brown, this coin once owned by Ambassador and Mrs. R. Henry Norweb is slightly finer than the Morris specimen, sold by Heritage for $1.15 million in April 2012.

Noteworthy among official early U.S. issues is a 1796 dollar with Small Date obverse and Small Letters reverse, B-2, BB-63 variety, graded MS65 NGC. The sole finest 1796 Small Date, Small Letters dollar known, it is a highlight of The William Jacob Collection, Part II.

Top