Rare Nickel Sells for $4.15M

Not many people can retire on a nickel — unless it's a rare 1913 Liberty Head (search) like the one that sold Thursday for $4.15 million.

It is the second-highest price ever reported paid for a rare coin.

Legend Numismatics (search), a coin dealership in Lincroft, N.J., bought it from collector Ed Lee of Merrimack, N.H. It is one of only five such nickels known to exist.

"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.

Lee bought the coin from California sports agent Dwight Manley (search) two years ago for nearly $3 million. At the time, he joked that he would be able to retire on the nickel.

Liberty Head nickels were minted from 1883 to 1912. "Miss Liberty" was replaced the following year by the Indian, or Buffalo, nickel.

But five 1913 nickels depicting "Miss Liberty" were minted illegally, possibly by a mint official. They were never put into circulation and were considered illegal to own for many years because they were not regular issue. The coins surfaced in the 1920s.

The old record for a 1913 Liberty Head nickel was $3 million, paid last year. The record for any rare coin is $7.59 million, paid in 2002 for a 1933 U.S. $20 gold piece.