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Liberty Head 'Walton' nickel from 1913 rakes in more than $3m at auction

The 5 cent coin was one of five produced illegally by a rogue US Mint worker

A 5 cent coin with a chequered history has been sold for over $3 million at an auction.

The Liberty Head nickel, one of five illegally produced in 1913 by a rogue US Mint worker a year after they stopped making them, went up for sale at a coin convention just outside of Chicago yesterday, where it was snapped up for $3,172,500 (£2,050,000).

After its production, the Mint worker went on to display the five coins and a collectors convention before selling them over the course of a few years.

In the mid-1940s the nickel was sold for a reported $3,750 to a man called George Walton. It was then passed down to his sister Melva Given when he died in a car crash in 1962. After an auction house mistakenly deemed it fake, she put it away at the bottom of a closet with a note labelled "It's not real".

The coin was rediscovered by Ms Given's children following her death in 1992, who took it to the American Numismatic Association's World Fair of Money in Baltimore in 2003, spurred on by a publicity stunt launched by former ANA governer Donn Pearlman, who was offering $1m to purchase the missing fifth specimen.

David Hall, an expert at the Professional Coin Grading Service, was one of the first to confirm the coin's authenticity, telling the Chigaco Tribune: "The minute I looked at it, I was 99.9 per cent".

The winning bidder at the Central States Numismatic Society Convention in Schaumburg, Illinois, was coin dealer and numismatic author Jeff Garrett, who said owning a 1913 nickel had always been one of his dreams.

The Walton heirs reportedly plan to split the proceeds equally.