US Coins

Walton 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent gets new owners

The 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin once owned by George O. Walton and his heirs has traded hands in a private transaction for a price between $3 million and $4 million.

Co-owners Jeff Garrett from Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries in Lexington, Kentucky and Larry Lee, from Coin and Bullion Reserves in Panama City, Florida, sold the coin to brothers Martin Burns and Ronald Firman. The sale was brokered through Philadelphia dealer Bob Paul from Bob Paul Rare Coins.

Coin World received a copy of the invoice for the sale of the coin to verify the transaction. The participants in the transaction requested that the exact price not be released.

Earlier in 2018, Paul placed with Firman for more than $1 million in a private transaction a 1943 Lincoln copper cent. The cent is graded Mint State 63 red by Professional Coin Grading Service and stickered by Certified Acceptance Corp. with a green label as being superior for the grade.



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One of five

One of just five 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coins known, the former Walton specimen, graded Proof 63 by Professional Coin Grading Service, realized $3.17 million during an April 25, 2013, Heritage Auctions sale held in conjunction with the Central States Numismatic Society Spring Convention in Schaumburg, Illinois.

The price realized includes the $2.7 million winning bid placed by Garrett plus the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee. After the auction, Lee and Garrett received multiple offers to buy the coin, which they turned down.

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When the Walton 1913 5-cent coin was certified by PCGS, the coin was not encapsulated in one of the grading service’s plastic holders. Instead, the grading label was just placed inside the acrylic plastic holder in which Walton was known to have carried the coin.

Garrett said the coin is to be encapsulated in an airtight PCGS Gold Shield holder for future protection with the grading label bearing the grade and pedigree.

Minutes to decide

Lee was returning home from a fishing trip when Garrett reached him by phone, 15 minutes before the 2013 CSNS sale, seeking Lee’s partnership in buying the coin.

The 2013 auction was 10 years after a six-member panel of numismatic experts that included Garrett declared the Walton coin genuine at the 2003 American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Baltimore. The other four examples of the coin had been gathered together for public exhibit at the convention. The Walton coin was then made part of the exhibit.

The exhibit was the first time that all five known 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coins were together in the same place at the same time since being owned by numismatist Eric P. Newman decades earlier. 

Since 1963, Walton’s heirs had believed the coin they had inherited was an altered date, after the piece was turned down for auction. For four decades, the coin was secreted in a closet in the home of one of Walton’s nephews in North Carolina.

Walton was killed March 9, 1962, in a head-on automobile collision on a North Carolina highway while en route to a coin show. The 1913 5-cent coin was among the coins Walton carried in his briefcase, which was recovered from the accident site.

Following its 2003 authentication, the coin was put on public display for the next 10 years at the Edward C. Rochette Money Museum at ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

After Lee and Garrett purchased the coin, it was put on exhibit May 9 to 11, 2013, at the ANA National Money Show in New Orleans.

Lee has also exhibited the coin under armed security at his Florida coin shop to allow collectors a glimpse of one of America’s most storied coins. Garrett said he also brought the coin to Lexington to show at his local coin club as well as to some of his numismatic clients.

Garrett confirmed June 14 that after PCGS encapsulates the 1913 5-cent coin in a new holder, the coin now under new ownership will return to the ANA Money Museum for public display. 

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