A Brief History Of Liberty Nickels

Liberty nickels were coins that were produced by the US mint between the year 1883 and the year 1913. Although the coin features a relatively simple design, it holds great appeal to coin collectors. On the obverse of the coin there is a Liberty head, and on the reverse is a Roman numeral V positioned within a wreath. This five cent coin was stuck in 75 percent copper and 15 percent nickel in a low relief.

Both the beginning and the end of this coin series were marked by interesting events. The new coin was introduced in January 30, 1883. Almost immediately after its unveiling Mint officials realized that the five million nickels that were already distributed did not have the word ‘cents’ under the V on the coin. This made it easy for scam artists to coat the surface with gold to make them look like five dollar gold pieces. A new variety with the denomination indicated more clearly was created and distributed. However, many people had already been conned by the fake 5 dollar coins, which were actually 5 cent coins. This story has become much recounted within numismatic lore adding to the historical background of the series.

The Liberty Head Nickels were originally produced by the Philadelphia Mint, but in 1912, additional production took place at San Francisco and Denver. This year would become the last of regular production, but that was not the end of the story. Collectors found at least five 1913 Liberty nickels, which were apparently created under surreptitious circumstances. In 2010, one of these nickels sold for around four million dollars, a rather high priced historic oddity.


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