One does not quickly forget placing a multi-million-dollar winning bid on one of the rarest US coins.
This week's 2023 ANA convention marks the 20th anniversary of the rediscovery of the missing Walton 1913 Liberty Nickel. I was asked to be part of the team that authenticated the coin for the Walton heirs who had come forward with the coin. Ten years later, in 2013, my company purchased the coin at auction. My purchase of the 1913 Liberty Nickel was one of the most exciting experiences of my numismatic career. The following is a detailed account of what happened that night.
Over the years, when asked about the most expensive coin I have ever sold, my mind quickly races with memories of April 25, 2013. Our team was attending the Central States Convention in Rosemont, Illinois, and the show had just concluded for the day. An important auction was being held that night at the convention, with the star lot being one of the legendary 1913 Liberty Nickels. Only five examples are known of this classic rarity, and for decades it has been one of the most coveted United States coins. The example being offered that night had been missing since the 1960s, until its rediscovery in 2003. The Walton family decided to part with the coin, and a room of about 300 people were waiting anxiously for it to cross the auction block.
I was on the way to dinner with my son, Ben, when my cell phone rang. One of my closest dealer friends, Larry Lee, was calling back about an inquiry I had made days earlier. Larry had several important retail clients who I thought might be interested in owning a 1913 Liberty Nickel. In actuality, Larry had decided he wanted to own the "holy grail" of numismatics himself. Larry agreed to split the coin with me, with him owning the majority interest.