It’s like a scene from the Twilight Zone.
In 1962, a man named George Walton wanted to find out what his 1913 Liberty Head nickel coin was worth. But on his way to the coin show, his car crashed and burst into flames, killing him – while the coin emerged unscathed. Appraisers gave it to his sister, Melva Givens, but told her it was fake.
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For some reason, though, Givens kept it, passing it down to her heirs in a padded envelop with the words “It’s not real” scrawled on it after she died in 1992.
In 2003, her heirs wanted to validate Givens’ claim and had it reappraised.
As it turns out, the coin is authentic – and one of only five 1913 Liberty Head nickels ever made. The U.S. officially stopped making Liberty Head nickels in 1912, but one rebellious worker at the U.S. Mint made five more in 1913 to create collectors’ items and sold them for $500 each.
At an auction in Schaumburg, Illinois, last week, the heirs were shocked when their coin sold for $3,172,500. They couldn’t believe Givens had kept it in a closet for 40 years, thinking the whole time it was a fake. “She died … never knowing she had the real thing,” one of the four heirs, Cheryl Myers, told the Chicago Tribune.
Myers and her brother, Ryan Givens, celebrated their new fortune with dinner and told the AP they plan to invest the money.
“We started with a nickel yesterday morning and now we have $2.7 million.”