Liberty Head Nickels


The Liberty Nickel was introduced in 1883 and was struck for circulation until 1912. The series is best remembered for two well recounted numismatic stories. The first deals with the "racketeer" nickels of 1883, and the second deals with the enigmatic 1913 Liberty Nickel.

1883 Liberty Nickel

The series was designed by Charles E. Barber, who was also responsible for many of the other coin designs of this era. The obverse features the head of Liberty facing left. She wears a crown in her hair with the word "Liberty", the letters of which can be used for grading determination.

The reverse design is dominated by a large "V", representing the Roman Numeral for "5". A wreath of agricultural elements surrounds and remains open at the top. Originally the inscriptions "United States of America" and "E Pluribus Unum" completed the design.

Since the denomination was only specified by the large "V", some individuals gold plated the nickels and began to pass them off as $5 gold pieces. Within numismatic history, these came to be known as "racketeer nickels." The US Mint eventually corrected the problem by added the word "CENTS", which would be retained for the rest of the series. Despite rumors to the contrary, the nickels "without CENTS" were not recalled but remained in circulation.

PCGS Liberty NickelThe Liberty Head Nickels would continue to be issued until 1912, with the so-called Buffalo Nickels series commencing in the following year. There should have been no 1913 Liberty Nickels struck, but mysteriously some appeared years after the fact. It is now believed that these were surreptitiously produced with Mint equipment.

The questionable origin has not impacted the collectible value of the 1913 nickels, which sell for millions of dollars. There are five examples of this storied rarity known to exist. One recently sold at public auction for $3,737,500.

This site provides a look at the rest of this intriguing series, along with a selection of PCGS and NGC certified Liberty Nickels available for sale. Find the coins needed to complete your collection.