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Liberty Head nickels are a popular series of 5-cent coins that, as a regular production, ran from 1883 to 1912.
Liberty Head nickels are also sometimes referred to as V nickels (for the big Roman numeral V — which means “five” — on the back of the coin) and Barber nickels (for the coin’s designer, Charles E. Barber).
Here are some fascinating facts about Liberty nickels and tips for collecting them…
There Are Only 2 Liberty Nickels With Mintmarks
The only Liberty Head nickels with mint marks are:
- The 1912-S Liberty nickel
- The 1912-D Liberty nickel
There Are Only 33 Liberty Nickels To Collect, But…
The Liberty Head nickel series isn’t all that large.
I mean, the design ran for only 29 years — 30 if you count the 5 rare 1913 Liberty Head nickels produced.
In fact, 1913 Liberty nickels are not even counted among the regular strikes. So you don’t really need to spend well over a million dollars at auction to buy one if you’re aiming for a complete collection of Liberty nickels.
That means only 33 different Liberty nickels are needed to have the entire regular-strike collection in your hands. Yet, the Liberty Head nickel series is not the easiest coin set to complete.
Most dates in the series are common, especially in the lower circulated grades.
But then there are a few truly scarce dates in the series — and those are the ones that will take a big nip out of your wallet when you go to buy them!
Even though the 1913 Liberty Head nickel is generally not considered part of the regular series of coins, that hasn’t stopped people from clamoring to get their hands on the coin. A recent auction sale of a 1913 Liberty nickel brought in the second-highest price ever paid for a coin — $4.15 million!
Tips For Collecting Liberty Head Nickels
Liberty Head nickels can be collected as a set, and many people today try to collect every date in the series.
However, a number of people buying Liberty nickels today often will try to build type sets instead. Type sets include one example of every design for a certain kind of range of coins — either by denomination, year, decade, or century, coin designer, etc.
Many desirable type sets have coins in high grades. High-grade Liberty nickels can be fairly difficult to locate, compared to the ease of finding very low-grade, worn examples of the coin.
That said, if you’re seeking an uncirculated specimen of the Liberty nickel for your collection, you can find one for as little as $30 to $40 if you buy a No-CENTS variety. If you would rather have the With-CENTS version for your type set, you can expect to pay around $75 to $90 for an example from the 1900s.
Here’s info about the current value of Liberty nickels.
Where To Find Liberty Head Nickels
Liberty nickels have not been regularly seen in circulation (or pocket change) for several decades.
However, because tens of millions exist, it’s not at all uncommon to find them tucked away in trunks, old cans, or boxes. They may also be parts of other little treasure stashes that are found in attics, basements, drawers, and buried away in the yards of older properties.
Liberty nickels can easily be found at most coin dealers. If you’re hoping to add Liberty Head nickels to your collection, check your nearest coin dealer or search online for them.
See the controversial story about V nickels being confused with $5 gold coins!
Other Helpful Resources
My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!