This one is so astonishing we had to wonder about its veracity. But the background certainly makes it sound plausible.

A press release we came across late Wednesday from claims that a Lincroft coin dealer has sold a rare nickel for $5 million.

From the release, datelined Santa Barbara, CA.:

“It’s a 1913 Liberty Head nickel, the finest surviving example of only five known specimens that were made under mysterious circumstances at the Philadelphia Mint nearly a century ago,” said Santa Barbara, California coin and jewelry merchant, Ronald J. Gillio, who negotiated the sale to the unnamed collector.

The sellers are Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey and Washington state business executive, Bruce Morelan. In May 2005 they jointly purchased the coin for a then-record price of $4,150,000.

That’s a 20 percent gain in two years.


“The 1913 Liberty Head nickels are among the world’s most famous and valuable rare coins. This is the second highest price ever paid for any coin. The new owner is a Southern California resident and a dedicated collector of historic United States rare coins,” said Gillio.


The world’s record price for any rare coin is $7.59 million paid for a 1933 U.S. $20 denomination Double Eagle gold coin in July 2002.

Here’s from a May, 2005 Associated Press story about Legend’s purchase of the coin:

“Owning a 1913 Liberty Head nickel is unlike owning any other coin in the world,” said Laura Sperber, co-president of Legend Numismatics. She called the 1913 Liberty Head the most famous of American rare coins.

The nickel will be on display through Saturday at a coin show in Long Beach, Calif. “We are going to display it and enjoy the hell out of it,” Sperber said.

Undated copy on the Legend website indicates that this is not some penny-ante operation:

Even though we just spent $4,150,000.00 for the finest 1913 Liberty Nickel, we still have money to spend!

At the June Long Beach Show we spent in excess of $2,000,000.00! We purchased several collections from collectors who came to offer us coins. Each deal was done in a matter of MINUTES and checks were immediately written! We will buy everything you have (except Modern coins).

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