The George Walton specimen of the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin
sold April 25 at auction in Schaumburg, Ill., for $3,172,500.
The price for the coin, certified Proof 63 by Professional Coin
Grading Service, represents the $2.7 million hammer price plus the
17.5 percent buyer’s fee.
Jeff Garrett from Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, Lexington,
Ky., placed the winning floor bid during Heritage Auction’s Platinum
Night session held in conjunction with the 74th anniversary convention
of the Central States Numismatic Society.
Garrett said he purchased the coin in partnership with Larry Lee
of Coin and Bullion Reserves, Panama City, Fla. Garrett said he and
Lee have no immediate plans for the coin.
For Walton’s heirs, the sale of the coin brought a range of emotions.
One of Walton’s nephews, Ryan Givens, said the sale validated his
Uncle George’s ownership of the coin, whose authenticity some had
questioned after its acquisition from another collector circa 1945 to
1946 for $3,750.
Before the auction, Givens posed for one last time with the coin
in the custom-made acrylic plastic coin holder Walton commissioned to
have produced specifically for the coin. The PCGS grading insert that
pedigrees the coin to Walton is secured in the holder, where PCGS
President David Hall put it during the Florida United Numismatists
Convention in January.
Givens said he was pleased that Garrett was the buyer of the coin.
Garrett was one of six numismatists who certified the coin as genuine
at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in
Baltimore in 2003.
“I was afraid somebody would buy it online or by phone and [we
would] never know who bought it and where it went,” Givens said.
“We’re glad Jeff bought it, since he was one of the original authenticators.
One of Givens’ sisters, Cheryl Myers, was also happy with Garrett
being the buyer.
“He’s well thought of in the numismatic community. He’s
well-respected,” Myers said. “You want somebody who will appreciate it
and who doesn’t look at it just as an investment. He’s going to enjoy
it for what it is. And we’ll know where the nickel will be for awhile.”
Minutes after the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin was sold, Garrett
phoned Lee to inform him he was co-owner of the Walton coin.
Myers said in the 10 years since the Walton coin was
authenticated, the family has learned a lot about their uncle and
Walton family history.
“And we’ve met some incredible people that will remain friends for
life,” Myers said.
Myers was able to continue satisfying her penchant for collecting
the 5-cent denomination by placing the winning bid of $7,000 plus
buyer’s fee for an 1882 Liberty Head 5-cent pattern, Judd 1684, graded
Proof 65 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and bearing a Certified
Acceptance Corp. sticker. Myers purchased the coin from the previous
auction session that featured selections from the Eric Newman Collection.
Givens’ and Myers’ sister, Betty Givens, said, “it’s been a very
exciting experience meeting everybody.” Betty Givens attended the sale
of the Walton 1913 5-cent coin, but was not present in Baltimore in
2003 when the coin was authenticated.
Another sibling, brother Richard, did not attend the
authentication session nor the auction.
Before the bidding began, Heritage President Greg Rohan said some
1,000 television stations, including BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera, were
reporting the auction.
It’s the best story in numismatics,” Rohan said.
George Walton was killed March 9, 1962, in a head-on automobile
collision on a North Carolina highway en route to a coin show. The
coin went “missing” shortly afterward when it was inaccurately
identified as being an altered date piece. It remained missing for 40 years.
When the Walton coin was authenticated in 2003 at the ANA
convention by being examined alongside the other four examples, it was
the first time since Eric Newman owned all five coins from the Col.
E.H.R. Green estate that all five were together in the same place.
The five coins were first displayed at a Chicago Coin Club meeting
in December 1919, bringing to the numismatic world the story of their
existence. The five coins were again displayed at the 1920 ANA
convention in Chicago.
During an afternoon educational forum that reunited some of those
involved with the 2003 authentication, Ryan Givens said the story of
the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin could have ended in 1963 had a
Secret Service agent seized the coin rather than permitting the family
to keep it.
Secret Service agents from Richmond, Va., visited the Givens
family home after learning that some of the coins inherited from
Walton included counterfeits and coins with altered dates, which the
1913 coin was suspected to be.
Givens said the lead agent told the family the 1913 coin was an
altered date and illegal to own, but informed the family they were
being allowed to keep it with the proviso not to sell it as genuine.
Ryan Givens said that from their uncle’s estate, their mother had
distributed a selection of coins. Ryan got dimes. Richard got half
dollars. Betty got quarter dollars. And Cheryl got 5-cent coins.
Cheryl Myers jokingly said the 1913 coin should have been among
the 5-cent coins she received in 1963.
Quint also tops $1 million
Another coin in the spotlight topped $1 million in the Platinum
The unique Type II 1783 quint went for $1,175,000. Dealer Donald
Kagin bought it. He indicated that his chief numismatist, David
McCarthy, has been conducting extensive research on the unique coin
and plans to publish his findings soon. ■