Racketeer Nickel 6

1883 saw the last of the Shield Nickels and a new nickel design was introduced by Charles Barber who would also design the dime, quarter and half dollar in 1892. The new Liberty Nickel would have a Roman Numeral V on the reverse to represent 5, but the engraver did not put CENTS anywhere on the coin. This coin would become known as the ‘No Cents’ Nickel or the ‘Racketeer’ Nickel. It wasn’t rare with over 5 million minted, but it has a devious past.racketeer-nickel

Our story begins with a man named Josh Tatum. The story goes that he noticed that Liberty Nickel and the current $5 gold coin were about the same size. With help from a friend, they were able to convert thousands of Liberty Nickels to $5 gold pieces using a 24-carat gold electroplate. Josh would take these fake gold coins and use them in different stores in different towns. He would buy something worth 5 cents, give the cashier the gold coin, and get $4.95 back. Not bad, huh? After a while, Josh would get caught with these fake gold coins. He was brought to court for fraud, but none of the witnesses could say that he told them they were $5 gold pieces and never asked for change. The case ended up being dismissed because Josh was actually a deaf mute. Some people think this was where the phrase “joshing you” originated.

So, to prevent this from happening again, the US mint added CENTS underneath the V on the reverse. Even though there were three times as many nickels that would include CENTS in 1883, the nickels without cents would still be less valuable.

People tried to fake people even after this by making the nickels look like the Racketeer Nickels. It’s like you’re trying to fake with a fake. Today, there are people selling these fake coins, some for the price of $4.95.

This was probably one of the earliest counterfeit coins in the United States. I have a “No Cents” Nickel in my Type Set as a remembrance of a deaf mute man who might have fooled the US Mint to change a design.

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6 thoughts on “Racketeer Nickel

  • Kenlyn16

    The page was well organized and neat. It is refreshing to learn new information about your subject. Are you a collector of old coins? Is it expensive buying old coins? I am not a fun of collecting old items, really, but it is fun checking those old coins and compare the new ones.

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks for the comment Kenlyn! I collect different US coins, some old, some new. Some old coins are more expensive than others. Depends on the rarity and grading. It’s fun collecting, especially if you know others that collect.

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks for the comment Hugh. Glad you liked the post. The theme I’m using expands the featured image to fit across the page. I think it still look cool.

  • Andrew G

    I’ve never really collected coins like these. They only way I have really bought coins has been in silver bullions. Do you buy these even though they are not considered colletors items? Thanks for that important info in looking out for scammers and falsified items like this. And thanks for keeping your posts simple and short

    • Kevin Post author

      Hey Andrew! I collected some silver bullion back in the beginning. There was one of the early counterfeits back in the 1800’s. There were others but this was one of the more popular scams.