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1884 Thin Strip Nickel

4 posts in this topic

This should be of interest to Liberty nickel and error collectors. There is also a letter dated a year earlier where a detective nickel is mentioned, but there is not enough detail to know if it is the same date and error, or something else.


December 30, 1886

 Hon. Daniel M. Fox



The five cent nickel piece of the date 1884 referred to in Treasurer Jordan’s letter of yesterday, was struck from a genuine die, and evidently was cut from a trial strike of nickel rolled accidentally to the weight of a bronze cent, the blank escaping detection by the Selectors and was milled and coins and issued by mistake.

 Very Respectfully,

Your obedient servant

William S. Steele, Coiner

Edited by RWB
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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

It would hard to not notice that on an example grading Fine or better, but it easily could go unrecognized on the many slicks that have survived.

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When it says "rolled to the weight of a bronze cent," does it mean the thickness of a normal cent, or does it refer to the actual weight? If it refers to the weight, I assume it would be thinner than a normal cent, given the larger diameter of the nickel blank punch, and the fact that nickel is slightly heavier than bronze. If the blank were thinner than a cent blank, how much of the design would even show up?

Edited by Just Bob
keep finding typos
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It refers to a thickness that, if cut with a cent punch from bronze strip, would produce a correctly weighted bronze cent blank. Thus, the thin CuNi blank would have been the thickness of a cent blank, but the diameter of a 5-cent CuNi coin of 1884. According to extant specifications for that period, a bronze cent blank was 0.049-inch thick and the five cent copper-nickel blank was 0.062-inch thick (later changed to 0.064-inch for the Buffalo nickel). These are, of course, before upsetting.

Have the error coin experts seen any of these?

(Note: The accidental use a a cent-thickness CuNi strip is not as odd as might seem. At this time the Philadelphia Mint was still experimenting with various alloys that could be used for minor coins. The cent was a particular target because in circulation it quickly became dirty looking with green corrosion from sweat and salt air - common in the Atlantic coastal cities and mill towns.)


Edited by RWB
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