Famous $2.5 million nickel on display at Money Museum

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - National news organizations are abuzz about the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel expected to fetch millions at auction this spring, but locals have a chance to see one up close and personal at the Money Museum, 818 N. Cascade Ave., in Colorado Springs.


1913nickelloresOnly five 1913 Liberty Head Nickels exist - and the only examples in museum collections belong to the American Numismatic Association's Money Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. Three are in private collections, and the last one to go on the auction block sold for $3.7 million in 2010.

 

"It was our great privilege to display two of these rare nickels in our museum for the past nine years," said Jay Beeton, ANA museum and library manager. "The one being auctioned was mistakenly stored in a closet for 41 years, and it was located and authenticated following a national search. Its owners allowed us to share this treasure with tens of thousands of visitors. The remaining nickel also has a fascinating history, and we expect to display it for years to come."


These famous nickels should have never existed: In 1913, the popular Buffalo nickel design replaced the Liberty Head design. A Philadelphia mint worker named Samuel W. Brown is suspected of altering the coin die with the bogus date, pressing the coins and smuggling them out of the mint.


While newspapers advertised a reward for the nickels, the coins' existence wasn't verified until Brown offered them for sale at the ANA Convention in Chicago in 1920, beyond the statute of limitations. The five nickels remained together under various owners until the set was broken up in 1942.


Since then, lore behind the "fab five" has grown: One was prominently featured in an episode of the 1970s series "Hawaii Five-0"; another was with its owner when he was killed in a car crash in 1962 and was found among hundreds of coins at the crash site. The nickel on display at the Money Museum was frequently carried around in the pocket of former owner J.V. McDermott, who liked to show it off at bars. This nickel was donated by Aubrey and Adeline Bebee in 1989 to the ANA's Money Museum, where it is on display today.

This famous nickel has a busy tour schedule in 2013: It will be exhibited at the Georgia Numismatic Association Convention from April 19-21, at the National Money Show in New Orleans from May 9-11, at the World's Fair of Money in Chicago from Aug. 13-17 and at the Long Beach Expo from Sept. 26-28. So the next two months are a perfect time to see this famous nickel in Colorado Springs.


The Money Museum's hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, students or military and free for children 12 and under. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 719-632-2646 or go to www.money.org/MoneyMuseum.


The American Numismatic Association's Edward C. Rochette Money Museum lets visitors discover the world of money through entertaining and interactive exhibits. As the nation's largest museum dedicated solely to numismatics, the museum uses money as a means to explore culture, art, science and history. Learn the stories behind the money and see how 2,600 years of human experience is reflected in money.


The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 27,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or go to www.money.org.