Jan 09

Region: North America
Country: United States
Denomination: 5 Cent
Year: 1913
Pricing & Coin Info
Coin of the Month January 2010 Coin of the Month January 2010

Friday night was day 2 of a 4-day auction being held by Heritage Auctions. If you were not already aware, Heritage Auctions is one of the largest auction houses in the world. One of their specialties is high-end coins. On Friday there were 3 coins that sold for over $1,000,000 USD.

A 1913 U.S. 5-cent piece, the second of only 5 known to exist, was sold for $3,737,500.00! This particular nickel is sometimes known as the Olsen Specimen or the Hawaii 5-0 coin. At one time it was owned by King Farouk of Egypt. In 1971, this coin was the first coin to sell for $100,000. In 1973 it was featured in an episode of Hawaii 5-0 as an object stolen by a thief. The publicity received from that show rocketed the 1913 5-cent coin into fame beyond the numismatic community.
1913 5 Cent Liberty Oberse 1913 5 Cent Liberty Reverse
[Click to Englarge]

As far as I know, $3,737,500 (3,250,000+15% buyer's premium) is the highest price paid for a coin sold through Heritage Auctions. They have sold over 1 million coins. If you have a membership at Heritage Auctions (they are free), you can watch the original display video here: Heritage video. Do you believe this coin earns the title, King of 20th Century Coins? Will this coin be the first coin to sell for over $10,000,000 as well or will a St. Gaudens Double Eagle get there first? Comment below!

Jan 17, 2010 Update:The first comment below has an article written by Heritage Auctions regarding this coin and the sale.
Photos courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

written by Nicholas


Nicholas Says:

1913 Liberty Nickel Brings $3.73 Million In FUN U.S. Coin Auction

An awed hush fell over the Platinum Night bidding floor of our Orlando FL FUN U.S. Coin Auction on Thursday, Jan. 7, as "The Olsen Specimen" 1913 Liberty Nickel, PR 64 NGC, lived up to its billing as the most famous American coin by bringing a jaw-dropping $3,737,500. This figure is tied for the third-largest sum ever paid at auction for a single U.S. coin.

The most famous of the five known Liberty Nickels was the principal highlight in Heritage's $36.5 million+ U.S. Coin Auction, which itself is the principal component of Heritage's $53 million January 2010 numismatic auctions, collectively composed of U.S. Coins and Currency at Orlando FUN and the NYINC World Coins Auction, which realized $11 million+ over the first weekend of the new year. All prices include 15% Buyer's Premium.

We're still continuing to see solid results in the U.S. Coin market despite the fluctuations of the overall economy in the last year. We expected a drop off of some kind from the record prices of two years ago, but were still surprised to see just how well everything performed. In fact, the auction exceeded our estimates by 20%. Combine that with more than 6,300 bidders and more than 93% of lots sold and you have a satisfying outcome and a strong statement on the market.

Overall, three $1 million+ U.S. coins sold in this auction. This is only the third time this has ever been done in a single event, and all were in Heritage auctions. In addition, for the first time all three coins actually hammered above the $1,000,000 mark.

There can be no doubt that the legendary 1913 Liberty Nickel is the King of 20th Century Coins and the "The Olsen Specimen," whose provenance roster reads like a Who's Who of the rich and famous - including a famous Egyptian king and the current owner of the Los Angeles Lakers , not to mention an appearance as the centerpiece of a 1973 episode of Hawaii Five-O - is the most famous of the fine known.

The bidding on this coin was definitely competitive. The winner is an advanced East Coast collector who, needless to say, now has the ultimate centerpiece to his collection and has assured his place in numismatic history.

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