Collectors of 5-cent coins generally fall in two camps. Some want a
single example of each design for a type set, while others dive right
in and specialize in the denomination. The denomination has relatively
few design types: The Shield 5-cent piece from 1866 to 1883 was
followed by the Liberty Head type from 1883 to 1912 (or 1913,
depending on your view of the rare 1913 “V-nickel”). The Indian Head
5-cent piece (the “Buffalo nickel”) ran from 1913 until 1938 when it
was replaced by the Jefferson 5-cent piece, which continues today,
with some design changes.
Here is one of several cool “nickels” that sold at Heritage’s April
26 Platinum Night auction:
Pattern Abraham Lincoln 1866 5-cent coin, Judd 486, Proof 64
Although Abraham Lincoln did not appear on a circulating U.S. coin
until Victor David Brenner’s Lincoln cent in 1909, Philadelphia Mint
experiments placed the president’s likeness on patterns in 1866. This
one, intended to be a 5-cent coin, struck in nickel and graded Proof
64 by PCGS, is listed as Judd 486 in the leading pattern reference
book. It depicts a profile bust of Lincoln not unlike that seen on
contemporary circulating tokens.
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This is one of just eight known in nickel with a plain edge,
although examples were also struck in copper, and it is distinguished
by a small spot above the D in UNITED. The handsome pattern from the
first year of the denomination was one of nearly 250 classic U.S.
pattern coins consigned by Michigan collector Bill Rau. The patriotic
pattern brought $16,800.