The Racketeer Nickel

In 1883, the US Mint changed the design of the nickel. Charles Barber created the new design. In its first year, there was no mention of the denomination except the Roman V. Since this new nickel looked very similar to the $5 gold coin, some people gold plated their nickels and tried to pass them off as $5.


Here’s what a plated nickel looks like. Just think, the last person to spend this coin was ripping someone off. The Mint changed the design mid year to add “cents” to the back of the coin. This coin’s quality grade is judged by the legibility of “Liberty” in Lady Liberty’s headband. The definition of her hair and facial features are important, too. My racketeer nickel is actually a higher grade than my regular 1883 nickel. Neither one is worth too much, $30 for the gold one if I find an overly enthusiastic collector (that’s how I got it). 1885 is the rare year. I like the 1883 racketeer nickel, though. It has more personality than the others.

The US Mint has some for sale. Josh Tatum was the most famous Racketeer. Here’s what Coinfacts has to say about the racketeer nickel.