Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


1913 Type 1 Indian Head nickel
A lovely specimen: a proof 1913 Type 1 Indian Head nickel.  [Photo: PCGS.]

The Indian Head nickel, AKA the Buffalo nickel, is one hundred years old this year, having been released into circulation on March 4, 1913.

Despite issues with some aspects of the design that made the coin difficult to strike well and the dates vulnerable to wear, it is still - in my not-so-humble opinion - one of the most beautiful American coins.

Perhaps it is a mark of my advancing age that I clearly remember when these bad boys were commonly encountered in pocket change.  I suppose we didn’t appreciate their beauty at the time, for they were commonplace... and generally fairly worn out as well.  But in pristine condition, this venerable nickel is a lovely little piece of artwork... the inspired creation of James Earle Fraser, whose initial F can be seen just below the date.

Years ago, we knew someone who bought an antique nickel slot machine - the old-school mechanical kind with the lever that you would pull to spin the cylindrical reels.  For authenticity’s sake, he filled that sumbitch up with buffalo nickels.  I was eaten up with envy, because that was a Cool Thing to have.

What coins do you remember from your childhood?  Which were your favorites?


T1G said...

For me, it was the fifty cent pieces, especially the Bi-centennial edition.

I do have an Indian Head nickel that I got in pocket change about ten years back. Too bad it wasn't Two hundred years old... we could say it was its BISONTENNIAL celebration.

Anonymous said...

Mercury dimes. As a kid, I thought that Mercury, with his nifty hat, was many times cooler than FDR. I also remember the very occasional steel penny.


El Capitan said...

The ubiquitous 1965 Washington quarter. Every handful of change could be counted on for a couple. I didn't learn until much later they made so doggone many because they'd pulled all the silver Franklin quarters out of circulation.

As a kid, I pulled all the wheat pennies I could find and kept them separate. Probably used 'em to buy a loaf of bread or something.

I also liked the hubcap-sized Eisenhower dollar with the eagle landing on the moon on the reverse.

subpoppy said...

Wheat pennies. Before my time, but my paternal grandmother had a Tootsie Roll bank filled with them. Even more cool were the 1934 series $5.00 silver certificates that she had hung on to.


Elisson said...

Cappy, I'm sure you meant "silver Washington quarters," unless you've been living in a parallel universe.

The Franklin half (silver) was replaced in 1964 by the Kennedy half (also silver) - the Kennedy half's silver content was sharply reduced in 1965 and eliminated entirely a few years later. Now you never see halves in circulation, dang it.

El Capitan said...

Yeah, you're right. I've got a stack of the Franklins, and it's what my brain defaults to when I think about silver coins...