James V. "J.V." "Mac" McDermott and his 1913 Liberty Nickel
I looked up coin dealer Mac McDermott after @Oldsycamore mentioned him in another thread and found that he seems like a very interesting fellow! It seemed like he deserves his own thread so this thread is to celebrate and remember Mac.
Of note, almost all references refer to him as "J.V. McDermott" but he was called "Mac" by those who knew him.
Apparently he passed his 1913 Liberty Head nickel around at bars, used it for baroom betting (according to Breen) and sent it through the USPS mail uninsured, and even had mail sent to him via care of general delivery. His fondness for and trust of the postal service is summed up in this quote:
J.V. McDermott said:
Heck, everybody knows you can trust the mails!
This quote is from a larger article by Ed Rochette:
Ed Rochette said:
I worked at Krause as an editor during the 1960s and thus have a store of anecdotal memories to call upon. There was the time we wanted to photograph a well-known but very rare coin to illustrate the cover of an early issue of Coins Magazine. The 1913 Liberty Head nickel seemed to fit the bill.
This coin is one of the best known of all American rarities. There are but five specimens known and, at the time, one was owned by a collector in Milwaukee, J.V. McDermott.
"Mac," as he was known, used to loan it to collectors to show at their club meetings or conventions. He carried the coin in his pocket to major coin shows.
In our minds there was little doubt that Mac would loan us this rare coin to be photographed. A phone call to Milwaukee confirmed it. Yes, we would receive it in a few days.
True to his word, the 1913 Liberty Head nickel arrived in the mail a few days later -- uninsured. When asked about it later, Mac replied, "Heck, everybody knows you can trust the mails!" That was almost 30 years ago.
Mac was indeed a trusting soul. Not only did he carry the coin around in his pocket, he also was known to imbibe in less than moderate terms. Evenings, after the bourse had closed, he often headed straight for the hotel bar, taking along his nickel.
The coin was passed around so much that it became the only specimen of the five known that could no longer be called "uncirculated."
David L. Ganz said:
It is the 1913 Liberty nickel, which Breen described as "nicked, scratched, cleaned, exhibited at hundreds of conventions, reportedly used by [former owner J.V.] McDermott for baroom betting"
Of note, his 1913 Liberty Head nickel isn't in the following pedigree list but needs to be added: