One of the most exciting things about coin collecting is how easy it can be to find true treasure in pocket change, on the ground or under the sofa cushions. Coins are unique in that they will always have some value, because even if they are not a precious collectible, they will at least retain their face value. The liberty head nickel is a sought-after item by many collectors, because if just the right one is found, the owner could instantly become a millionaire. Here is how to determine if a coin find is a genuine treasure, as well as a few other facts many collectors may like to know.
Lacking Any "Cents"
The initial production of the nickel in 1883 had only a large "V" on its reverse and no amount noted. The letter represents the roman numeral for five, but no other mention of the value of the coin was included with the design. This was a happy design choice for swindlers who were able to convince shopkeepers the coin was actually worth $5. Eventually the design was changed to add the denomination on the back, and the original version became known as the "racketeer nickel".
The Valuable Years
For collectors, three mint years are the most sought after because they are the years in which the least amount of the coins were minted. These include 1885, 1886 and 1912. The most valuable of 1912 are those that are stamped 1912-S, as only 238,000 were made at the San Francisco mint on this year.
Profitable Mint Mistake
Collectors always love when the U.S. Mint makes mistakes because the results are profitable for the lucky few who find these coins. For the Liberty Head nickels, the coins dated 1913 are the treasure they seek. Only five of these rare coins are believed to be in existence. The reason is simple; they were not supposed to be made. The 1912 coin was to be the last in the series as it was being replaced by the newly designed Buffalo Head nickel. Owning one of the five would be instantly life-changing, as the last sold at auction for $3.1 million.
Additional Coin Names
Liberty Head nickels can sometimes be sold under one of their other common names. These names include the "V-nickel", because of its reverse design and the "Barber nickel", in honor of the coin's designer, Charles Barber.
Coin experts warn about counterfeit nickels. 1913 fakes are easy to spot since all five that were produced are currently accounted for and in private collections or museums. The most valuable years of 1885 and 1886 are popular with counterfeiters because of the amount collectors are willing to pay for them. There are many tips about making certain the coin is properly aged, but as counterfeiting techniques improve, it can be challenging to identify fake coins.
To start your own collection, begin looking for Liberty Head nickles through retailers like Penny Pincher Coins & Jewelry today.