We are excited to release the twenty third coin in the CollecTons Keepers program, an exclusive series only offered by CollecTons. The twenty third coin we present, CollecTons Keepers #23 in Series, features the rare 1883 "NO CENTS" Liberty Head Nickel. Why is the 1883 "NO CENTS" Liberty Head Nickel a Coin Worth Keeping?
The Liberty Head Nickel was first produced by the U.S. Mint in 1883. For historical reasons, the coin was initially released without the word "CENTS" appearing on the coin. This allowed some crafty individuals to immediately plate the coins in gold and pass them off as five-dollar gold pieces!
The Liberty Head nickel, also known as the "V nickel" due to the reverse design, was struck from 1883 through 1912. It was a replacement for the Shield nickel which had withstood a number of production problems. Joseph Wharton, an industrialist with interests in nickel mining and production, had been very influential in getting nickel (the metal) into the production of coinage during the 1860s. Due to the technical problems with the Shield nickel, production of the five cent coin had been waning in the mid 1870s. Wharton once again became influential with the U.S. Mint when he pushed the mint to increase their purchase of nickel and therefore redesign the five cent coin. The Liberty Head Nickel was the ultimate result.
Three cent pieces had been circulating for years with only a Roman numeral to indicate the value of the coin. However, the V nickel just happened to be similar in diameter to the five-dollar gold piece. Fraudsters quickly realized that if the coin were gold plated it could be passed as a five-dollar piece rather than a five-cent piece. These fraudsters acted quickly and experienced quite a bit of success in passing them off as the higher denomination gold pieces1. This earned the 1883 No Cents Nickel the dubious name of a 'Racketeer Nickel'. Some fraudsters even went so far as to reed the edge of the coins to make them appear even more like a gold piece2.
The fraud associated with the new nickel caused much concern at the Mint, which quickly ceased production. Charles Barber (the designer of the nickel and the Chief Engraver at the U.S. Mint) immediately modified the design of the reverse, moving other elements in the design to make room for the word 'cents' at the bottom. The new design entered into production on the 26th of June, 1883. The public responded by hoarding the 'No Cents' nickels, believing that the Treasury Department might attempt to recall them.
Barber chose a classical design for the obverse, featuring the figure of a woman facing left. The woman is wearing a coronet engraved with the word 'LIBERTY' and has sprigs of wheat and cotton in her hair. She is surrounded by thirteen stars, and the date appears below her. The reverse displays the Roman numeral V inside a wreath made of ears of corn, ears of wheat, bolls, and leaves of cotton. Above the wreath is the legend 'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA', and the motto 'E PLURIBUS UNUM' below it.
Today, the 1883 "NO CENTS" Liberty Head Nickel is highly sought after. It holds a unique spot in the history of United States coinage.
What makes the Collectons Keepers program special?
- Year: 1883
- Mint: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco
- Mintage: 5,474,300
- Designer: Charles E. Barber
- Composition: 75% copper, 25% nickel
- Weight: 5 grams
- Diameter: 21.2mm
- Edge: Plain
- Face Value: 5 Cents
Here at CollecTons, we work hard researching coins that should be part of every collection. Our goal is to utilize our knowledge in the numismatic industry to select coins worthy of being in everyone's collection! Therefore, the CollecTons Keepers program will only feature those Coins Worth Keeping.
Each coin is hand selected and given to ANACS (America's Oldest Grading Service) for grading and authentication. The coins are then sealed in an ANACS certified proprietary slab holder for long-term storage, with our limited edition label marking it a CollecTons Keeper.
Collect one or collect the entire series!
An interesting story
A man named Josh Tatum came to be known as the king of the racketeer nickel. Josh and a friend gold plated thousands of the No Cents nickels. Josh ran from town to town purchasing 5 cent items. At each store he would give the clerk a gold plated nickel and wait for his $4.95 in change. He was eventually charged with fraud but the charges were dropped because he had never asked for the change. See, Josh happened to be deaf and mute, so he couldn't have asked for change. It was argued in court that the extra change was simply a gift from the clerk.
Many United States coins were originally minted from precious metals such as gold and silver. The edges were eventually reeded to deter counterfeiting and shaving (filing down the edges to get the precious metals without showing that the coin had been altered).
While coins produced by the U.S. Mint for circulation no longer contain precious metals, the higher denomination coins maintain their reeded edges. This is very helpful to the visually impaired, allowing the dime and the penny to be identified by touch.