A 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin that figured prominently in an
episode of the 1970s television drama Hawaii 5-0 sold for $3.29
million during the Jan. 9 Platinum Night sale by Heritage Auctions.
Bidding opened at $2.4 million and continued in $100,000 increments.
The winning $2.8 million closing bid was placed by a mail/fax bidder.
A 17.5 percent buyer’s fee was added to the hammer price to arrive at
the total figure.
The auction was held in conjunction with the Florida United
The 1913 5-cent coin is certified Proof 64 by Numismatic Guaranty
Corp. and stickered by Certified Acceptance Corp. It is considered the
second finest of five known examples and is one of three in private
hands. It is often referred to as the Olsen specimen, for collector
Fred E. Olsen. The coin has counted among its owners Col. E.H.R.
Green, Eric P. Newman, King Farouk I of Egypt, sports magnate Jerry
Buss and Reed Hawn, among others.
The coin sold for less than it brought in its last appearance at
auction. The Olsen 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin was last offered Jan.
7, 2010, by Heritage in conjunction with the Florida United
Numismatists convention. The coin sold in that sale for $3,737,500.
The winning bidder in that auction was The Greensboro Collection,
which consigned the coin to the Jan. 9, 2014, sale.
In 1972, the Olsen specimen became the first coin to break the
The coin was the subject of the Dec. 11, 1973, Hawaii 5-0 episode,
aptly titled “The $100,000 Nickel.” At the time, the coin was owned by
World Wide Coin Investments.
Five 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coins were struck clandestinely at the
Philadelphia Mint. Treasury officials had decided that in 1913 no
Liberty Head 5-cent coins would be struck for circulation before the
introduction of the 1913 Indian Head 5-cent piece.
Collectors were unaware that any 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coins
existed until Samuel W. Brown, a former Mint Cabinet curator at the
Philadelphia Mint, advertised in the December 1919 issue of The
Numismatist that he wanted to purchase any existing examples for $500 each.
Brown subsequently exhibited the five 1913 5-cent coins at the
American Numismatic Association’s 1920 convention in Chicago.
Some have speculated that Brown had the coins struck during his Mint
tenure and, after waiting a few years, placed ads in which he claimed
to be seeking to purchase examples as a means to legitimize their