August 16, 2018
Many consider nickels the unspoken worst coin in American currency.
They have that unnecessary thickness and awkward size that makes them comparable to the fading SEPTA token, plus there's an irrelevant depiction of Thomas Jefferson's personal Monticello estate on the back – it's like a colonial version of having Mar-a-Lago on your change.
Despite the obvious and highly scientific flaws of nickels, one rare coin at a Philadelphia auction just went for one of the heftiest price tags ever: $4.5 million.
The nickel sold at the American Numismatic Association's World's Fair of Money at the Philadelphia Convention Center on Wednesday night, sold by the Stack's Bowers Galleries. The coin, dating back to 1913, is the Eliasberg Liberty Head nickel (and mercifully absent of a Monticello landscape).
The nickel was created as one of five, lobbied for by Joseph Wharton (yes, that Wharton) who had a significant monopoly on nickel mining in the United States at the time. It's because of Wharton the nickel has a heavier design than other U.S. coins. The Liberty Head coin that sold Wednesday and four others are known to have been produced at the Third Philadelphia Mint.
Brian Kendrella, president of Stack's Bowers Galleries, told the Associated Press that the new owner, whose name was not disclosed, "now possesses one of the rarest, most valuable United States coins." The coin is one of three examples in private hands.
The fair continues through Saturday.