Owning one of the five 1913 Liberty Head nickels is a privilege reserved for very few collectors.
The coin is not cheap.
When the owner of one of these rarities contacts me, I sit up and take notice.
I had an email yesterday from Larry L. Lee of Coin & Bullion Reserves in Panama City, Fla.
He sent me a short note as well as an image of the front page of the Numismatic News that reported on the sale of the George Walton specimen of the nickel at Heritage Auctions 2013 Central States sale.
The headline reads, “Nickel sells for $3.2 million. Beneath it is a photograph of Ryan Givens, who represented the family of nieces and nephews of Walton who had consigned the coin to the auction.
The photo shows Givens speaking with Jeff Garrett as the buyer of the coin at the auction.
Mr. Lee writes in his note: “Just for the record, Jeff Garrett owned 10 percent of this coin. After owning it for approximately six months, he sold me that 10 percent as well. Rather than 90 percent, I have owned 100 percent of this coin since January 2014.
“Like Paul Harvey, I just wanted you to know ‘the rest of the story.’”
This is new information I am glad to know.
In my reporting at the time, Lee’s name was mentioned as partner in ownership, but the percentage shares were not divulged. Now we know thanks to this email.
I asked Lee in my response if he had any plans for the nickel.
He replied, “Until someone takes charge and begins meaningful work at rectifying the fiscal quagmire our country is in, I feel more comfortable with my money ‘in the coin’ rather than ‘in the bank.’”
Anyone who wants to know what motivates coin buyers beyond the personal satisfaction of ownership now has a bit of insight into the thinking of one big buyer.
This nickel sold for $46,000 in 1967 when Aubrey Bebee bought it.
That happened to be almost the precise starting point when I began to read numismatic periodicals. I subscribed to Coins Magazine and read the report of Bebee’s purchase in it.
I suppose if an 1804 silver dollar or a Brasher doubloon had sold in those first few months of my voracious reading, I would be attached to them as much as I feel attached to the nickel today.
I did not have $46,000 to spend to buy it in 1967. I earned $5 a week as a paperboy.
I did not have $3.2 million in 2013.
What I do have is a great interest in this coin and I appreciate Lee’s willingness to share information and thoughts with my readers and me.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."