The "Racketeer" nickel's true origin... or is it?

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by iGradeMS70, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. iGradeMS70

    iGradeMS70 AKA BustHalfBrian

    Not sure how historically accurate the following info is, but I got a good chuckle out of it. :D

    "The old saying "just joshing you" was coined in the late 1800's and has a very interesting story behind it!

    Josh Tatum was a deaf mute, but a very enterprising young man from the Midwest. In 1883 the US Mint came out with a new nickel. It was deemed the Liberty Head Nickel and on the reverse side had a large roman numeral V stamped on it. The new nickel did not have the word "cents" or "nickel" stamped on it. Josh Tatum noticed this and the fact that it was nearly the same size as the US $5.00 gold piece, which at the time was used as common currency. With the help of a friend familiar in gold electroplating base metal, they turned these coins into a literal figurative gold mine. Tatum went from town to town going into shops, stores & mercantile. He was very careful not to purchase anything that cost more than a nickel, where he would hand over one of these gold plated nickels. The clerk would accept the coin, and in most instances give Josh back $4.95 in change, which he happily would take. By the time law enforcement caught up to him, he had visited hundreds of towns & had amassed a small fortune!. The Law prosecuted him but ironically he was found not guilty on the most serious charges, because he only purchased items that totaled 5 cents, and because he was deaf & could not speak he never represented that it was a new $5.00 gold piece. The same year, the US mint added the word "cents" to the Liberty Head Nickle in an effort to bring this type of fraud to a halt. Hence the famous saying "you're not Joshing me are you"?
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  3. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    It's a nice story, and the part about the plating of the nickels to pass them as half eagles is true, but the part about Josh Tatum is not. There has never been any solid evidence presented to show that Josh Tatum actually existed, no court evidence etc. And the term "Josh" or Joshing dates from the 1830's, fifty years before the Racketeer nickel.
  4. Morgandude11

    Morgandude11 As long as it's Silver, I'm listening

    The gold plating is absolutely true--less scrupulously honest folks did that--hence the nickname "racketeer" nickel. As regards a specific person, I don't know how true it is, but it makes for a great story.
  5. Paddy54

    Paddy54 Hey brother can you spare a half dime?

    003.jpg 004.jpg The 1883 N/C Racketeer nickle
  6. Paddy54

    Paddy54 Hey brother can you spare a half dime?

    002.jpg 003.jpg A better shot and an variety FS-05-1883-1302 triple punched 1
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