Wanted: nickel with a $1m price on its head

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The Independent US

Americans are being asked to rummage in their attics and pockets for a single coin, which, should they find it, could make them very wealthy indeed. The Liberty Head Nickel may have a face value of only five cents, but it could be worth US$1m (about £610,000).

A New Hampshire gallery, Bowers and Merena, which specialises in precious coins, has issued a $1m reward for the nickel, one of only five minted 90 years ago under clandestine circumstances.

From 1883 until 1912, the US mint produced countless Liberty Head nickels before it was retired in favour of another version. But in 1913, a mint official, Samuel Brown, secretly made five more of the coins under the cover of darkness.

The quintet of coins surfaced in the Twenties and a market was born. King Farouk of Egypt owned one. Another made an appearance on the TV police series Hawaii 5-O.

Four of the coins have been accounted for and are either in museums or private collections. But collectors have long dreamt of finding the fifth. The best theory is that it was owned by a North Carolina dealer killed in a car crash in 1962 while carrying the coin. Treasure-hunters scoured the site without finding the nickel.

Bowers and Merena admitted the reward was a "bit of a gimmick". But its president, Paul Montgomery. said it was "all about trying to find the coin". And the $1m sum is not entirely stupid. His gallery auctioned one of the five nickels in 1996 for $1.5m.