The Different Types of Nickels: A Guide to U.S. Coin Identification

In the United States, the nickel is a five-cent coin that has gone through various designs and compositions throughout its history. Here are some notable types of nickels:

1. Shield Nickel (1866-1883)

The Shield Nickel was the first five-cent coin to feature the familiar “nickel” composition of 75% copper and 25% nickel. It featured a shield design on the obverse (front) and a large numeral “5” on the reverse (back).

2. Liberty Head Nickel, or V Nickel (1883-1913)

The Liberty Head Nickel, often referred to as the V Nickel due to the Roman numeral “V” on the reverse, was introduced in 1883. It featured a portrait of Lady Liberty on the obverse and a wreath and “V” on the reverse.

3. Buffalo Nickel, or Indian Head Nickel (1913-1938)

The Buffalo Nickel is renowned for its iconic design. The obverse features a Native American chief, and the reverse showcases an American bison. This coin is highly popular among collectors.

4. Jefferson Nickel (1938-present)

The Jefferson Nickel, introduced in 1938, is the current design of the five-cent coin in the United States. It features a portrait of President Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and Monticello, Jefferson’s Virginia home, on the reverse.

Throughout the history of the nickel, there have been various special editions, commemorative designs, and minting errors that add to the variety and collectability of these coins.