The George O. Walton example of the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin
was formally certified Jan. 11 in Orlando, Fla., by Professional Coin
Grading Service as PCGS Secure Proof 63.
The announcement was made at the PCGS booth during the Florida
United Numismatists convention.
The coin is one of only five examples known and one of only three
in private hands.
Five of the six numismatists who authenticated the coin on July
29, 2003, were reunited for the announcement. The five attending the
event were John Dannreuther, from John Dannreuther Rare Coins,
Memphis, Tenn.; Fred Weinberg from Fred Weinberg and Co., Encino,
Calif., Jeff Garrett, owner of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries in
Lexington, Ky.; Mark Borckardt, senior cataloger and senior
numismatist at Heritage Auctions in Dallas; and David Hall, a
co-founder and current president of Collectors Universe Inc. in Santa
Ana, Calif., and a PCGS co-founder.
Paul Montgomery, executive vice president for business development
at American Precious Metals Exchange in Oklahoma City was unavailable
to attend the Jan. 11 FUN event. Montgomery did, however, have the
opportunity to re-examine the Walton coin two days earlier at the show.
During the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money
in Baltimore in 2003, the six numismatists authenticated the coin as
the Walton example that had been missing from the numismatic spotlight
for more than 40 years.
When the Walton coin was authenticated in 2003, Montgomery was
president of Bowers and Merena Galleries in Mandeville, La., and
Borckardt was the firm’s executive vice president.
Bowers and Merena, then a Collectors Universe firm, had offered a
$10,000 reward just for the privilege to examine and authenticate the
Walton coin and a minimum $1 million to buy the piece once it was
certified as genuine.
On Jan. 11, during the 2013 FUN convention, Hall, Dannreuther,
Weinberg, Borckardt and Garrett recounted with one another their
recollections of their 2003 experience in being presented the Walton
coin to authenticate.
The Walton coin was recently submitted to PCGS for certification
on behalf of Walton’s heirs by Heritage. Heritage will be auctioning
the rarity April 25 in Schaumburg, Ill., in conjunction with the
Central State Numismatic Society 74th Annual Convention.
Hall said during the Jan. 11 FUN event that PCGS graders had
determined the Proof 63 grade before the event. The authenticators
believed 10 years ago, in 2003, that the coin would be certified at
that grade if submitted to PCGS.
Instead of sonically sealing the coin inside one of the
traditional PCGS plastic encapsulations or slabs, it was decided the
grading insert would be secured within the custom-made holder produced
for the Walton family more than 50 years ago. Hall said the
custom-made holder is extremely important to the coin’s pedigree.
Borrowing a dime from one of his fellow numismatists to undo the
six screws holding the segments of the custom-made holder together,
Hall subsequently placed the grading insert against the front of the
black, back portion of the holder before putting the clear cover in
place again and securing the holder pieces together with the screws.
Hall said he hopes whoever owns the coin in the future retains the
PCGS grading insert within the custom-made holder.
‘Lost’ and found
From March 9, 1962, until July 29, 2003, the Walton specimen of
the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin was believed lost to numismatics.
Walton was well-known to have had a 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin
in a custom-made plastic holder, and he displayed the coin frequently
at coin shows from the 1940s through the early 1960s.
In early 1962, Walton was killed in a car crash near Middlesex,
N.C., while en route to a coin show in Wilson. Coins valued at
$250,000, which included the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin, were
scattered along the highway, but subsequently recovered.
According to a July 28, 2003, Coin World article by then
editor Beth Deisher, “In 1993 Arthur Smith, an attorney who
represented George’s brother, Charles, when George’s estate was being
disbursed, confirmed that a 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin was
recovered and that it was included in the inventory of coins examined
by Stack’s in preparation for an auction.”
Deisher continued, “Smith said Stack’s determined that the coin
was an altered date specimen. Harvey Stack, owner of Stack’s,
confirmed that his firm examined the altered coin and returned it to
Borckardt said his research determined that Stack’s had taken the
Walton 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin to someone associated with the
American Numismatic Society who had made the pronouncement the coin
had an altered date.
Stories had been circulating for decades that Walton had both an
altered date coin and a genuine piece. According to those stories, the
altered date piece would be publicly displayed while the genuine coin
was safely secured elsewhere.
The coin resurfaced publicly after one of George Walton’s nephew’s
told Coin World in late June 2003 that the 1913 Liberty Head
5-cent coin plastic case with George Walton’s name on it and a coin
were still in the possession of the Walton family. Deisher persuaded
the family to bring the coin to the ANA show, where it was
authenticated and then displayed alongside the other four examples of
The other four examples of the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin are:
➤ The Norweb coin, Proof 60, National Numismatic Collection,
➤ The Olsen-Hawn coin, graded Proof 64 by Numismatic Guaranty
Corp., last sold Jan. 7, 2010, in Heritage’s FUN auction for
$3,737,500; currently in private hands.
➤ The Eliasberg coin, PCGS Proof 66, owned by a California collector.
➤ The McDermott coin, NGC Proof 55, ANA’s Edward C. Rochette Money
Museum, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Numismatists Eric P. Newman, 101, and his late mentor, Burdette G.
Johnson, both of St. Louis, co-owned all five 1913 Liberty Head 5 cent
coins at the same time before World War II.
All five coins had come from the estate of famed collector Col.
E.H.R. Green. ■