Bob H. writes: While preparing to sell my mother-in-law’s possessions, I found a coin that I’m now trying to identify and value. It is a US gold coin, about the size of a quarter, with the classic Liberty head, but on the back instead of an eagle there is a “V”. The coin is dated 1883, and I’d say it is in “good” condition–“Liberty” is clearly readable in the head piece on the front. I couldn’t find a coin with that reverse looking through the image gallery. Can you help? Thanks. Bob.
This is a gold plated nickel and not a $5 dollar gold coin. There is a famous landmark legal case to determine whether it was criminal to gold plate nickels and cut reeds in the edge to make it look like a Classic Head $5 gold piece.
The date 1883 was the first year of the Liberty nickel and since the population was new to this coin, it was easy to get away with the scam. Suprisingly, the perpetrators were found innocent since they used a deaf mute who would buy a 5 cent cigar, put the gold plated nickel on the counter and walk a way with $4.95 change. Since the perpetrator couldn’t speak he never said it was a $5 gold piece and therefore was innocent of fraud. (19th century logic). Later that year the word “Cents” was added under the “V”
These nickels are affectionately called “Racketeer Nickels“. To be a “genuine” RN, the nickel must have reeding on the edge as well as the gold plating. Worth about $50 or so if one of the “originals”.