The rare 1913 Liberty Head Nickel

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by petronius, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. petronius

    petronius Duke

    Hello to all :smile

    For the italian forum lamoneta.it, I'm writing the story of the rare 1913 Liberty Head nickel: the five specimens, history of the owners, and so on.

    But I have a question.

    I can't understand why this coin is so important for all American collectors.

    I can understand the importance of 1933 double eagle, 1804 silver dollar, and others. But we're talking just a small nickel, on the origin of which, moreover, there are many doubts.

    And is not even a so nice coin...the Flying Eagle cent, or the Buffalo nickel, are much better, in my opinion.

    One reason is surely the rarity, 5 specimens are more than few, but there are even fewer currencies known. For example, the 1870-S Half Dime (three pieces known) which is much less desired than nickel.

    So, I think the rarity is not sufficient to explain the great interest you have for this coin.

    In the third edition of 100 Greatest U.S. Coins, by Jeff Garrett, the 1913 Liberty Head nickel is the first coin, the greatest...you agree?

    But, if you agree...why?

    Thanks to all who want to give an explanation to this silly Italian :rolleyes:

    petronius :cool:
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  3. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    You can give the credit for the 1913 V nickels popularity to Max B Mehl. During the Great Depression in the 1930's, Mehl was running ads on radio and full page ads in several of the national magazines offering to buy 1913 V Nickels for $50 each. Now when 25% of the population is unemployed and many people don't know where their next meal is coming from, if all you have to do to get almost two months wages is find one of those nickels and sell it to Mehl! EVERYONE was searching through coins trying to find that coin and EVERYONE in the country knew about that coin and that it was valuable. And that knowledge stayed with the people. If you ask a non-collector if he knows of any very rare coins, if he can come up with one it will most likely be the 1913 V Nickel.
  4. Lehigh96

    Lehigh96 Toning Enthusiast

    While not advocating plagiarism, I suggest you pick up a copy of MILLION DOLLAR NICKELS by Paul Montgomery, Mark Borckardt, and Ray Knight if you have not already done so. It is probably the best reference on the subject.

    [​IMG]

    IMO, the rankings of the ultra rarities in US Numismatics is a little silly in its entirety. Personally, I find the Panama-Pacific $50 Octogonal and the coiled hair $4 Stella fascinating and wish they were higher on the list.
  5. Doug21

    Doug21 Coin Hoarder

    Value and rarity often make little sense. I consider the 13 V-nickel to be a somewhat bogus coin along with 33 double eagle and 04 dollar. Back in the 19th century the mint was very corrupt, even more so than now...they could make you anything you wanted for a price.
  6. coinup

    coinup Junior Member

    If people are willing to pay for it...then that's what it's worth.
  7. scott490

    scott490 New Member


    I got my avatar from one such advertisement plucked from an issue of the Numismatist from around 1920. That coin is legendary.
  8. GeorgeM

    GeorgeM Active Member

    Agreed. I took a quick read through of the list and was disgusted that none of the extremely rare US Philippine coins made the cut. (I bought an unread copy of the book for $5 at a flea market and sold it for $20 2 days later at a coin club meeting).
  9. WingedLiberty

    WingedLiberty The Color of Money

  10. petronius

    petronius Duke

    Thank you all, guys :hail:

    A special thanks to WingedLiberty for the link to his interesting thread.

    petronius :smile
  11. JCB1983

    JCB1983 Learning

    I've been 6 inches away from one of the 13 nickels and I wasn't very impressed. It's just a coin. Furthermore, I felt like they had a fake on display. I couldn't believe that the smithsonian would actually display a million dollar coin simply resting on two nails not incased in anything.
  12. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    But that ad was not Mehl's and was not out where the general public would see it. Your ad was placed by Samuel Brown in order to create the "plausible explanation" as to how he had acquired his five coins.

    That's how they, and a lot of museums display their coins. If you saw their exhibit at the ANA in Chicago in 2011 you would have see a 33 double eagle and 1849 double eagle displayed the same way. Some museums actually stick them in place using a form of wax or putty rather than have them resting on posts. The Smithsonian used to use that method with some of the coins on display with the Lilly collection. Museums don't always take the best care of coins. After the Mint collection was turned over to the Smithsonian one of the curators used baking soda to polish the tarnish off the silver proof coins.
  13. Kirkuleez

    Kirkuleez 80 proof

    I have said it before, but I will brag again. I helped broker a deal for the famous Hawaii Five-O piece some years ago when I was working for a dealer in New Orleans. I had the pleasure of bringing it to the new owner, a private collector on the west coast. You should have seen how quickly a crowd developed after the person checking through the items in my pocket said out loud "Is this the famous 1913 nickle, how much is it worth?". In was my greatest ultra coin nerd moment when I passed the coin around on the airplane and told the story. I may have created a new collector or two on that flight.

    But you are correct, I don't think it should be number one either. I put the several others before it, the 1877 Half Union, 1884 and 1885 Trade dollars, coil hair Stella, and 1933 Double Eagle rank higher in my book. But the fact that the coin is so famous is likely the reason for its ranking.
  14. petronius

    petronius Duke

    WOW...I'm honored to meet you, even if virtually only :D

    Yeah, it's very famous, but in my opinion, I prefer three or four coins before it.

    The MCMVII UHR Double Eagle is my favourite, then the 1804 dollar, coil hair Stella, 1933 double eagle, and then, maybe :rolleyes: the 1913 nickel.

    Well, when I win 30 or 40 million €uros to the Italian lottery "Superenalotto", I'll buy them all! :p

    petronius :smile
  15. longnine009

    longnine009 Iconic

    I'd rather have Ford's CSA half.

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