Liberty Nickel

1883 – 1912

The Liberty Nickel, also called the V Nickel or Barber Nickel, was first struck in 1883. In the beginning of the year the coin was minted without the word “cents” below the “V” on the reverse. The Coinage Act of 1792 did not require coins higher than one cent in value to include the denomination, so this is not

Many unscrupulous people started gold plating the coin and passing it off as a five dollar gold piece. The problem was with the “V” combined with no denomination which made it easy for a gold plated nickel to be mistaken for a five dollar gold piece. These gold plated examples are still common today and are referred to as “racketeer nickels”.

1913 Liberty Nickel

1913 Liberty Nickel

Approximately 5.5 million 1883 Liberty Nickels were struck without the word “CENTS”; this is referred to as the “Type 1 Liberty Nickel”. In the middle of the year the design was modified to include the word “CENTS” below the “V”; this is the “Type 2 Liberty Nickel”. 16 million Type 2 nickels were produced during the remainder of the year. Surprisingly, the Type 1 is actually more common in high grades than the Type 2, because many of the Type 1 examples were put back and collected.

Because of the designs inherent low relief, well struck examples of the Liberty Nickel are relatively common in high grades.

The obverse features Lady Liberty wearing a crown with the word “LIBERTY” on the band. Liberty is surrounded by 13 stars representing, of course, the 13 original colonies.

The reverse features a Roman numeral “V” in the center surrounded by a wreath. Directly above the “V” is Liberty Nickelthe Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum, All For One. Around the edge are the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”. Type 2 coins have the word “CENTS” centered at the bottom with a dot on either side of the word.

The Liberty Nickel went through the entire series with no design changes. Up until 1912 all coins were produced by the Philadelphia Mint when, in the final year of production, San Francisco and Denver also struck the nickel.

As an interesting note there is a mystery concerning a 1913 dated Liberty Nickel. Officially there were no Liberty nickels minted in that year, but to date there are five known examples. In 1996 a 1913 Liberty Nickel was sold for nearly 1.5 million dollars which was an all time record for any coin. The existence of the 1913 dated nickel wasn’t discovered until 1920 at the ANA convention.

The dates with the lowest mintage are 1885, 1886 and 1912-S although none are considered extremely rare.

Liberty Nickel Specifications

  • Diameter: 21.2 mm
  • Weight: 5.0 g
  • Composition: 75% Copper 25% Nickel
  • Edge: Plain
  • Designer: Charles E. Barber

Liberty Nickel Mintage Numbers

1883 No CENTS … 5,474,300
1883 with CENTS … 16,026,200
1884 … 11,270,000
1885 … 1,473,300
1886 … 3,326,000
1887 … 15,260,692
1888 … 10,715,901
1889 … 15,878,025
1890 … 16,256,532
1891 … 16,832,000
1892 … 11,696,897
1893 … 13,368,000
1894 … 5,410,500
1895 … 9,977,822
1896 … 8,841,048
1897 … 20,426,797
1898 … 12,530,292
1899 … 26,027,000
1900 … 27,253,733
1901 … 26,478,228
1902 … 31,487,581
1903 … 28,004,930
1904 … 21,403,167
1905 … 29,825,124
1906 … 38,612,000
1907 … 39,213,325
1908 … 22,684,557
1909 … 11,585,763
1910 … 30,166,948
1911 … 39,557,639
1912 … 26,234,569
1912-D . 8,474,000
1912-S …. 238,000
1913 …… 5 known

Written by D Slone, Copyright 2010

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2 Responses to “Liberty Nickel”
  1. B Horner says:

    Greetings, I have found 2 V coins. 1 is dated 1883 and the ”cents” is included. I do not see the E Pluribus Unam on the coin. The other one is dated1908 has the V and wreath but I do not see the E Pluribus Unam or United States of America on the back of the coin. Perhaps it has rubbed off though everything else is visable. Are you aware if this is common on some of these coins. I appreciate your offering information and a site to make request. Thank You, B Horner

  2. L Wright says:

    I also found an “V” coin 1909 has v,wreath,stars andUSA, no E Pluribus U

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