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Liberty Head Nickels of the United States minted from 1883 to 1912

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Liberty Head Nickels

liberty head nickels

The United States Liberty Head Nickel, also known as the Buffalo Nickel, was a coin that was minted by the United States Mint from 1913 to 1938. The coin was designed by James Earle Fraser, a renowned American sculptor, and it featured a Native American on the obverse (front) and a buffalo on the reverse (back). The history of the United States Liberty Head Nickel began in the early 20th century when the U.S. Mint decided to redesign the nickel, which had featured the Shield Nickel design since 1866. In 1911, the Mint held a competition to select a new design for the nickel. Fraser, who had experience working with Native American and Western themes in his artwork, submitted his design and it was ultimately chosen.

The first United States Liberty Head Nickels were minted in 1913. They featured a proud and stoic portrait of a Native American on the obverse, wearing a feathered headdress and facing to the right. On the reverse, there was an intricately detailed depiction of a buffalo, also known as a bison, standing on a raised mound. The United States Liberty Head Nickel quickly gained popularity among collectors and the general public for its unique and artistic design. However, there were some technical issues with the coin. The design lacked a raised rim, which made it prone to wear and caused the details to quickly fade. Additionally, the denomination of “FIVE CENTS” was placed on a raised mound on the reverse, which also wore down easily.

In response to these issues, the Mint made some modifications to the design in 1913. The most notable change was the addition of a raised rim on both the obverse and reverse, which helped to protect the coin’s design and extend its lifespan. Other changes included moving the denomination from the raised mound to the bottom of the reverse and enlarging the mintmark, which indicated the Mint where the coin was produced. Despite these changes, the United States Liberty Head Nickel continued to face challenges with durability and wear. In 1938, after 25 years of production, the coin was replaced with the Jefferson Nickel, which featured a new design by Felix Schlag.