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Rare Nickel Goes For $3.1 Million At Schaumburg Auction

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Hidden in a Virginia closet for 41 years after its owners were mistakenly told it was a fake, this authentic 1913 Liberty Head nickel is one of only five known and sold for over $3.1 million in an auction conducted by Heritage Auctions in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois on April 25, 2013. (Heritage Auctions)

Hidden in a Virginia closet for 41 years after its owners were mistakenly told it was a fake, this authentic 1913 Liberty Head nickel is one of only five known and sold for over $3.1 million in an auction conducted by Heritage Auctions in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois on April 25, 2013. (Heritage Auctions)

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(CBS) — Everyone knows how much a nickel is worth: 5 cents. Right?

Well, not if it’s a 1913 Liberty Head variety.

Experts think there are only five of them left. One of the specimens sold for $3.1 million Thursday at an auction in Schaumburg.

The winning bidders were identified as Jeff Garrett of Lexington, Ky. and Larry Lee of Panama City, Fla., who partnered in the purchase, according to a news release.

The sale is all the more amazing, auctioneers say, because of the story behind the rare coin.

A North Carolina collector had acquired the coin in the mid-1940s for a reported $3,750 and had it with him when he was killed in a car crash on March 9, 1962. The nickel was passed to another owner, who hid it in a Virginia closet for 41 years after being told it was a fake.

A decade ago, the collector’s heirs had the coin re-evaluated by experts, who said it was the real deal.

“This particular example of one of the world’s most famous rare coins is perhaps the most special of them all, given its amazing story,” said Todd Imhof, executive vice president of Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which conducted the sale.

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