Obverse: Liberty head left
Reverse: The roman numeral 5 surrounded with a vegetal wreath. Word CENTS lacking
Struck with polished dies
An early strike from a newly prepared set of dies. Both sides are essentially untoned and feature nicely frosted devices against highly reflective fields. No spots or marks of note.
The lacking of the word CENTS on the first Liberty nickel issue of 1883 has an interesting anecdote. Mint Engraver Charles E. Barber designed the coin and made working hubs and dies, from which came almost 5.5 million 1883 No CENTS coins. After a while people noticed that the coins had no mention of CENTS, and began saving these “mistake” nickels on the correct assumption that the design would soon be changed to incorporate the necessary word CENTS. But worse was to follow. According to the Breen Encyclopedia, “Unscrupulous persons reeded the edges of many of these coins, gold plated them, and palmed them off on the unwary as new $5 gold pieces. Thousands of the original “Racketeer” nickels, with partly rubbed-off gold wash, survive today, many with reeded edges, some with plain. A total of 5,219 proofs were struck before the design was changed later in the year to add CENTS at the base of the reverse.