Gerald Tebben, a Coin World columnist for more than 30 years, also contributes to Coin World’s Coin Values and edits the Central States Numismatic Society’s journal, The Centinel. He collects coins that tell stories.
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As seen on TV: 'Hawaii Five-0' episode likely the most famous coin-themed show
An Hawaii Five-0 episode titled, The $100,000 Nickel aired on Dec. 11, 1973.
Over five weeks,
No. 4: Hawaii Five-0, Dec. 11, 1973
An Hawaii Five-0 episode titled, The $100,000 Nickel is probably the most famous television show with a coin theme. Producers built the episode (season 6, episode 14) around the Olsen specimen of the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent piece. In late 1972 the coin was the first coin to hit $100,000. The coin, graded Proof 64 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., sold for $3.3 million at the 2014 FUN show.
The show opens with a forger altering a 1903 nickel to look like a 1913. The action then shifts to a courier taking a locked briefcase to the security room at the Pacific Coin Convention Coin Bourse and Auction. He takes out a box holding the coin. “It’s insured for $100,000. There are only five like it in the world,” he says. The actual coin is show full screen before it is locked in a safe.
The action then shifts to an oceanfront park. The forger is holding the altered coin with his fingers and says, “Virtually undetectable without high magnification. I think you will find it well worth $1,000.” A killer then takes the coin in a gloved hand, places it in his pocket and pulls out a pistol. He plugs the forger and walks away.
A con man is then hired for $10,000 to switch coins. At the coin show, the carnival slight-of-hand expert casually asks to look at the coin, which is promptly handed to him. Wearing a white glove, he picks it up and switches it out. As he’s leaving the show, an alarm sounds. The con man uses the coin to buy a 15-cent newspaper, effectively stashing the coin until he can retrieve it; only he doesn’t get back to it in time.
The coin bounces from the vending machine to a child’s pocket to a candy store before ending up as change at a bar after the con man buys a drink.
The coin, which is still known for its TV exposure more than 40 years later, benefited from the publicity. In 1978 Superior Galleries paid $200,000 for the coin, double its 1972 price.
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