Sunday, August 26, 2007

The 1883 Liberty Head Nickel...One coin that caused a whole heck of a lot of problems.

Here is the face of the Liberty nickel of 1883.

Here is the back of the 1883 Liberty nickel.

It was a beautiful coin, so well designed, and attractive. But the only problem with it was that no one put the word cents on it. A nickel of course is a five cent piece and everyone knows that today.
But in 1883 we had gold coins that ran in values of one, five, ten, and twenty dollars.
So when the Liberty nickel came out and just had a large V for five on the back it opened up the coin to be used in a way the United States Mint had never intended it .
People gold painted them, gold sputtered them, gold washed them in any way to make them look like a five dollar gold piece. Of course everyone took them as five dollar gold pieces as it simple said five on the back.

This caused a wild time in the Treasury Department and all hell broke loose in the United States Mint!
Immediately they stopped production of the Liberty Head Nickel and redesigned the back of it. So instead of simply having a large V, it had under the V the word CENTS!
This stopped the misuse of the Liberty Head nickel, but a whole lot of people had been really taken advantage by this scam. It was the last coin ever made by the United States Mint that did not say "exactly" what it was valued at. They had learned their lesson and it was a very embarrassing one.

So today the 1883 nickel is a popular and valuable coin for collectors. As it was one coin through error and cleverness that became something it was never intended to be!