In the earlier years of our nation, cents and nickels were much more important than they are today. The main reason for that was that they actually had buying power, unlike today. You could buy something for a cent and the old time five and dime stores actually had goods that were priced at five and ten cents. This made me wonder, why didn’t the branch mints strike cents and nickels until well into the 20th century? The Readers’ Digest answer to this is that the branch mints were all set up specifically to strike gold and silver coins. There was either no legal authorization for them to strike base metal coins, or tradition forbid them to do it. In 1906 Congress voted to given the Director of Mint the power to authorize the coinage of cents and nickels in the branch mints. He started to exercise that power in 1908 with the 1908-S Indian Cents. The 1908-S Indian Cent is sort of the "little brother" to the 1909-S which scarcer, pricier and more famous than the 1909-S Indian Cents. Still it was the first cent to be struck at a branch mint, and circulated examples are within the price range of many collectors. In 1912 the Mint Director authorized the coinage of nickels at Denver and San Francisco. The Denver Mint struck its first cents in 1911. Nickel production started the following year on February 1. With a mintage of almost 8.5 million, the 1912-D nickel is a fairly common coin. In Good condition the 1912-D nickel sells for little more than the other common date Liberty Nickels from the 1900s. Prices escalate sharply in VF-20 and higher. Mint State coins are not rare, but they are pricey with the values beginning at a few hundred dollars in MS-60 and advancing to over $1,000 in MS-65. With a mintage of 238 thousand, the 1912-S Nickel is a popular and somewhat scarce coin. It is considered to be twice as rare as the 1909-S-VDB Lincoln Cent. Although this coin has lowest mintage in the Liberty Nickel series (excluding, of course the 1913 Liberty Nickel), it is not as rare as the 1885 nickel which has a mintage of a little less than 1.5 million. The reason, of course is that more of the 1912-S Nickels were saved because they were the last of their kind. The San Francisco Mint struck the entire mintage between Christmas and New Years Days in 1912. As such these were probably the last Liberty Nickels that were struck for general circulation. The coin has long been a collector favorite. According the 2019 Red Book, prices start at $145 in Good-4 and increase to $1,800 in MS-63. Those who are looking to buy Mint State examples are advised that a few Mint State rolls of this coin have come to the market over the last year. This has lowered the prices for all Mint State coins, although they still sell at auction for more than $1,500 for low Mint State examples to over $3,000 for coins in MS-66. Neither PCGS nor NGC has graded any 1912-S Nickels higher than MS-66. Here's a tip if you decide to buy a Mint State 1912-D or S nickel. All of the unmolested pieces are toned. The two mints washed the planchets in a water, soap and Borax solution that toned them. If you see one of these two nickels in Mint State with bright white surfaces, chances are they have been cleaned.