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1882 Blind Man’s Nickel

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1882 Blind Man’s Nickel


Most of us remember the 2006 ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robertson in a lawsuit filed by the American Council of the Blind that claims the U.S. Department of Treasury is violating the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 with its paper money, right?


Well, way back in 1882 the United State Mint was considering a special pattern nickel, now known as the “Blind Man’s Nickel.” Under the auspices of William Barber, one of the mint’s designers, George T. Morgan produced a handful of some proof Liberty nickels and Shield nickels with an edge that had five raised bars spaced at regular intervals so that the blind could determine by the touch, its denomination. These coins were never released for circulation but the few that were struck did indeed find their way into collectors hands.



The ``Blind Man's Nickel'' has long been a favorite of pattern collectors, both due to its extreme rarity and its highly unusual edge device. Two such Nickel designs were struck; one being the Shield Nickel design, the other, also struck bearing the date 1882 is of a Liberty Head design, similar to the adopted design but bearing the obverse legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA rather than stars. According to John Haseltine in his sale of March 1, 1883, these Nickels were ``designed for the use of the blind'' and that these ``bold ridges'' were placed ``on the edge so that the blind could determine by the touch its denomination.'' Apparently, the need for such a coin was deemed to not be sufficient, nor was the idea practical to carry over into other denominations, not to mention that the raised bars along the edge also posed potential jamming problem for the coin presses.




1882 5C Liberty Head Five Cents, Judd-1683, Pollock-1883, High R.7, PR64 PCGS


J1683/P1883 Copper-nickel Only 3 were struck according to the addenda in Haseltine's March 1883 sale. At least 3 are in fact known today.






1882 five cents. "Blind man's" nickel. Nickel. Judd-1697, Pollock-1899. Rarity-7.


Only 3 are confirmed including the Mitchelson-Connecticut State Library and Harry W. Bass Jr. Research Foundation pieces and the illustrated example which is from Bowers and Merena's October 2000 sale. The latter is probably the Judd coin as well.




Captain John W. Haseltine was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1838 and lived for 86 years. He was involved in mining, commercial art, was a legitimate Civil War Hero and was in the coin business. He had close relationships to the (then) new Philadelphia Mint. He was a stockbroker for a while starting around 1885 (maybe until early 1890s)." (This information on Haseltine is from John W. Adams United States Numismatic Literature, Volume I, Chapter Five).


See CoinFacts; 1884 Trade Dollar for more Haseltine info. Quite a character.


John Haseltine sold his extensive collection at auction on April 10, 1883.




Much information gathered from: US Patterns.com

I could not find one single image of the edge, go figure.





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Thanks for the discourse on this often, misunderstood and under-appreciated coin. I remember one going up for auction at STACKS and being real tempted, in my crazier years. Still, I'd love to own that Shield pattern.

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He had close relationships to the (then) new Philadelphia Mint.

He probably married into those relationships through his father in law William Idler. Interesting tidbit. With the exception of the Linderman specimen (as in Mint Director Linderman) all of the Class III 1804 can be traced back to Haseltine. Close relationships with the Mint were GOOD.

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