Composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel, the 5-cent nickel piece has been struck since 1866. The Shield nickel, the initial design, was struck until 1883, when it was replaced by the Liberty Head or the V nickel. Key dates in the Liberty Nickel series include the 1885, 1886, and 1912-S. Only five 1913 Liberty Nickels are known, but these are believed to have been produced clandestinely at the mint.
As part of a drive to increase the beauty of American coinage, the Buffalo nickel was introduced in 1913; key dates in the series include 1913-S Type 2, the 1914/3 overdate, the 1918/7-D overdate and the 1937-D “Three Legged.”
The Buffalo nickel was followed in 1938 by the Jefferson nickel, which is still in production. In 1943, demand for nickel as a strategic metal in World War II forced the mint to return to a silver-based composition that lasted through 1945. All of the dates in this series are easily obtained with the exception of the “S”-less nickel produced in 1971.
From 2004 to 2006, Westward Journey commemoratives honoring the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition were issued.
Coin Images courtesy of PCGS CoinFacts