US Coins

Nickel Lincoln 5-cent plain-edge pattern one of eight

A pattern 1866 5-cent piece depicting Abraham Lincoln sold for $16,800 at Heritage’s April 26 Platinum Night auction.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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:

The Lot:

Pattern Abraham Lincoln 1866 5-cent coin, Judd 486, Proof 64

The Price:


The Story:

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.

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