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Updated on August 23, 2012


One of the rarest and most valuable coins in American history is the 1913 Liberty Head nickel. In February of 1913, the Liberty Head nickel was replaced by the Indian Head nickel or also known as the Buffalo nickel. According to the mint record, there was no Liberty Head nickels produced in 1913, only Buffalo nickels. However, somehow, five 1913 Liberty Head nickels were produced. They weren't found until 1920 when a man names Samuel Brown attended an A.N.A convention. Brown was a numismatist and displayed his five 1913 Liberty nickels at the American Numismatist Association's annual show. When the others located the rare nickels, they couldn't believe their eyes.

So where did Samuel Brown get these rare coins that never were even produced? It is a question that still remains unsolved today, nearly 100 years later. The interesting part behind it all is the fact that Mr. Brown actually worked at the U.S. Mint in 1913. Even with this evidence, there wasn't enough to do anything to Brown and he was able to keep the five 1913 Liberty Head nickels. Samuel Brown kept his coins and eventually sold them in January of 1924. The rare Liberty Head nickels were purchased by E.H.R. Green. Green kept the coins in his private collection for 12 years. In 1936, Green passed away and the coins were auctioned off. This time, the coins would be separated for the first time as they were bought by Eric Newman and B.G. Johnson.

Over the next 70 odd years, they would pass hands multiple times. The history behind these coins are enough to spark anyone's interest. In total, there are five total specimens. They were named after owners of the coin. Below, you can find the names of all five coins.

  • Eliasberg Specimen
  • Olsen Specimen
  • Norweb Specimen
  • Walton Specimen
  • McDermott Specimen


When it comes to all five specimens, the Eliasberg 1913 Liberty Head nickel is the finest example. The Eliasberg specimen is has a proof composition, one of two in the set of the five. The other proof is the Olsen specimen. The Eliasberg 1913 Liberty Head nickel has a proof 66 grade, meaning it is in perfect condition. This 1913 Liberty nickel was sold several times over the last two decades. In 1996, it was sold for $1,485,000. It was the first American coin to be sold for over a million dollars at the time. It would be sold again and again for the next ten years. Then in 2007, it was sold for over 5 millions dollars.

The other proof coin, the Olsen specimen, also has a very high value. The Olsen 1913 Liberty Head nickel has a grade of proof 64. It was recently sold a few years ago for $3,737,500. The Norweb 1913 Liberty nickel was given to the Smithsonian in 1977 and the McDermott 1913 Liberty Nickel head was given to the A.N.A. in 1989. The Walton specimen remains in a private collection.

These are all five specimens of the known 1913 Liberty Head nickels.
These are all five specimens of the known 1913 Liberty Head nickels.


The exciting thing about the 1913 Liberty Head nickel is the fact that nobody known exactly how many were produced. In total, only five are known to exist, but that doesn't mean that they are not more. According to others, the case that Brown stored his 1913 Liberty Head nickels in had a slot for another coin. Does that mean there may be another?

In general, nobody will ever know if more were produced. Yet, that is not bad news. It is very possible that more are out there. And if you were able to come across such a rare coin, it would be worth millions! So if you have some unsearched Liberty Head nickels, it is definitely worth checking the dates out!


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    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Aviannovice, thanks for taking the time to read this article. Appreciate your comment and have a good one!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      A great piece on another rare coin.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      HBN, you are so great:) Many thanks and glad you enjoyed this story. Always very thankful for everything. Frank, glad you enjoy that small series, very inspirational. Thanks for that Frank. Joyce, thanks for taking the time to come by. Hope you find a keeper! Ruby, LOL. You never know Ruby. It would be more then great, talking about freakin AWESOME!! Alocsin, yeah, you could easily see the difference. So many are hoarded. Best chance are estate sales and lockers, yard sales, ect. Thank you all!!!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'm not going to bother looking in my piggy bank for these. The unusual design would have made them standout if I were lucky enough to have encountered them. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is a fascinating article. Wouldn't it be nice to find one in your pocket? I have some old coins. I will be looking.Ha..Thank you Ricky..

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Great hub I enjoyed reading and I'm am going to though my pennies in a jar. Thank you for putting this on here.

      Voted useful and interesting, Joyce.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      thelyricwriter I enjoy your coin collection hubs I can print them out and enjoy them at my own pace.. thanks for that bro :)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      What a fascinating story about the 1913 Liberty Head nickel.

      Hard to believe that any coin could be sold for 5 million dollars, especially one that was not "officially" produced.

      It's also cool that there's still some doubt about whether more may be in general circulation.

      Enjoyed this bit of coin history.

      Voted up across the board except for funny.

      Hub Hugs,