The Only Guide You Need: Different Types of Nickels

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Written By Natasha Jones
I'm Natasha Jones, an avid collector of coins, stamps, and paper money. My passion drives me to seek unique finds, from antique shops to international exchanges. I enjoy connecting with fellow collectors through forums and meet-ups, sharing discoveries and insights. Collecting, for me, is about preserving history and building a community around this shared interest.

Welcome to the intriguing world of nickels, where various types and designs await exploration.

From the classic Jefferson Nickel to the legendary Buffalo Nickel and the fascinating Shield Nickel, each type has its unique story and features that make it a numismatic treasure.

Join us as we delve into the different types of nickels, uncovering their historical significance, artistic beauty, and the fascinating tales they hold.

Get ready to discover the rich diversity within the realm of nickels!

Short History of Nickels

The history of nickels is a captivating tale that spans centuries.

It begins with the introducing of the first nickel coin in the United States, the Shield Nickel, in 1866.

As time progressed, iconic designs like the Liberty Head Nickel and Buffalo Nickel took center stage, showcasing American history and cultural symbolism.

1938, the Jefferson Nickel debuted and has remained a staple in American coinage ever since.

Today, nickels continue to evolve, with various commemorative editions and special releases honoring notable individuals and important events.

The history of nickels reflects the dynamic nature of American currency and the enduring legacy of these small yet significant coins.

Different Types of Nickels:

Shield Nickel (1866–1883)

Types of Shield Nickel:

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With Rays (Type 1) (1866 -1867) | Image by PCGS
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Without Rays (Type 1) (1867 -1883) | Image by PCGS

The Shield Nickel holds a significant place in the history of American coinage.

Introduced in 1866, it was the first five-cent coin to bear the “In God We Trust” motto.

The coin’s design features a shield on the obverse, symbolizing the strength and unity of the United States.

The reverse showcases a large numeral “5” surrounded by stars. While the Shield Nickel faced challenges due to its intricate design, it remains a cherished piece of numismatic history, reflecting the era of post-Civil War America and the evolving symbolism of U.S. coinage.

Liberty Head (1883–1913)

Types of Liberty Head Nickel:

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No “CENTS” (Type 1) (1883) | Image by PCGS
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With “CENTS” (Type 2) (1883 – 1913) | Image by PCGS

Get ready to be captivated by the iconic Liberty Head Nickel, a coin that exudes timeless beauty and symbolizes the spirit of liberty.

Minted from 1883 to 1912, this remarkable coin features the enchanting portrait of Lady Liberty on the obverse, adorned with a coronet inscribed with the word “LIBERTY.”

The reverse showcases a majestic American eagle, representing strength and freedom.

With its intricate details and nostalgic charm, the Liberty Head Nickel takes us back in time, evoking a sense of patriotism and wonder.

Embrace the allure of this legendary coin and let it transport you to an era of American greatness!

Buffalo or Native American Head (1913–1938)

Types of Buffalo Nickel:

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“FIVE CENTS” Raised on Ground (Type 1) (1913) | Image by PCGS
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“FIVE CENTS” on Recess (Type 2) (1913 – 1938) | Image by PCGS

Embark on a majestic journey through American history with the legendary Buffalo or Native American Head nickel!

Minted from 1913 to 1938, this captivating coin captures the spirit of the American West with its iconic design.

The noble profile of a Native American chief graces the obverse, paying tribute to the indigenous peoples of our land.

On the reverse, the powerful image of a majestic buffalo roams the plains, symbolizing strength and resilience.

With its exquisite artistry and timeless appeal, the Buffalo or Native American Head nickel is a true masterpiece that invites us to celebrate our great nation’s rich cultural heritage and natural wonders.

Experience the untamed beauty and spirit of the American West with this numismatic gem!

Jefferson Nickel (1938–Present)

Types of Jefferson Nickel:

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Original Design Vintage (1938 – 1964) | Image by PCGS
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Original Design Modern (Type 1) (1965 – 2003) | Image by PCGS
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Original Design Modern (Type 2) (Silver Alloy)
(1942 – 1945) | Image by PCGS
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Westward Journey Designs (Type 3) (2004 – 2005) | Image by PCGS
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Return to Montecillo (Type 4) (2006 – Present) | Image by PCGS

The Jefferson nickel holds a special place in American numismatics, honoring the legacy of one of our nation’s founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson.

Minted in 1938, this coin features Jefferson’s portrait on the obverse and his iconic Monticello home on the reverse.

With its timeless design and rich symbolism, the Jefferson Nickel invites us to reflect on American history, innovation, and the enduring ideals that shape our nation.

This beloved coin serves as a reminder of our past and a tribute to the remarkable contributions of Thomas Jefferson.

In conclusion, the world of nickels is a fascinating realm filled with diversity, history, and artistic beauty.

From the classic designs of the Jefferson Nickel to the legendary Buffalo Nickel and the intriguing Shield Nickel, each type of nickel holds its own unique story and charm.

Before you go…

Whether you’re captivated by the historical significance, the symbolic representations, or the artistry showcased on these coins, exploring the different types of nickels is a journey that allows us to appreciate the rich tapestry of American numismatics.

So, let’s continue to uncover the hidden treasures and timeless wonders within the diverse world of nickels!

Check out my next article: “Jefferson Nickel – The History, Facts & Key Dates

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