Quiz about Classic American Coins Nickels Five Cents
Quiz about Classic American Coins Nickels Five Cents

Classic American Coins: Nickels (Five Cents) Quiz


This look at a Classic American coin looks at the five cent coin or nickel, a denomination that traces its origins back to the 19th century.

A multiple-choice quiz by bernie73. Estimated time: 3 mins.
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Author
bernie73
Time
3 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
410,727
Updated
Nov 02 22
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Tough
Avg Score
6 / 10
Plays
111
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 208 (5/10), Guest 98 (4/10), stevroll (6/10).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. Which war caused the economic upheaval that was a major reason for the creation of the five cent coin? Hint

War of 1812
Mexican-American War
US Civil War
Spanish-American War

2. While the US five cent coin (obviously) contains nickel, which other metal is an even larger part of its composition? Hint

Tin
Iron
Zinc
Copper

3. On which other 19th century coin would one see a shield similar to that found on the first circulating five cent coin, the Shield Nickel? Hint

Two cent coin
Three cent coin
One cent coin
Trade Dollar

4. What was Josh Tatum accused of doing to Liberty Head Nickels that led to him being on trial? Hint

Carving into the face on the obverse
Coating them in a different metal
Altering the inscriptions on the reverse
Hollowing out the coins

5. Did the mint gradually increase production of the Liberty head Nickel with the largest number of coins being made in 1913, the final year of its production?

No
Yes

6. Like some other US coins, a change was made to the Buffalo Nickel during its first year of production. What change was made? Hint

The phrase "E pluribus unum" was moved to the obverse
The phrase "In God We Trust" was added
The animal was turned 180 degres
The ground on which the animal stands was flattened

7. To a zoo in which city did James Fraser go to find the American bison that would be the model for the bison on the reverse of the Buffalo Nickel? Hint

Washington, DC
San Francisco
Chicago
New York

8. During the World War Two years, the usual composition of the nickel changed. Along with silver and copper, which other metal was used? Hint

Manganese
Tin
Iron
Aluminum

9. Which particular mint mark appeared for the first time on US coins during World War Two on the Jefferson Nickel? Hint

O for New Orleans
P for Philadelphia
W for West Point
D for Denver

10. For 2004 and 2005, Jefferson Nickels sported special designs. Which event's 200th anniversary was the inspiration of these designs? Hint

The Founding of the First American Party System
The War of 1812
The Lewis and Clark Expedition
The Signing of the Declaration of Independence


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Which war caused the economic upheaval that was a major reason for the creation of the five cent coin?

Answer: US Civil War

During the US Civil War (1861-1865), US coins began being pulled from circulation and hoarded by concerned citizens. While this began with coins containing precious metal (gold and silver), it eventually spread to coins made from non-precious metals. By the time that the US government was printing fractional currency (paper money with a face value under one dollar), it was decided that something should be done. New coins made of non-precious metal were minted and issued in large quantities in various denominations to alleviate the shortage and get money circulating again: two cent coins (1864), three cent coins (1865), and five cent coins (1866).

A silver half dime (equal to five cents) had been minted in the United States since the late 18th century. Production of these coins had decreased during the Civil War and would eventually be brought to an end in 1873. If you have not seen a half dime before, it is a very small coin (half the size of a US dime).
2. While the US five cent coin (obviously) contains nickel, which other metal is an even larger part of its composition?

Answer: Copper

With the exception of the five cent coins issued during World War Two (1942-1945), US nickels have been made from only 25% nickel and 75% copper. The use of nickel in US coinage is due at least in part to the lobbying efforts of Joseph Wharton, a wealthy industrialist whose mine and processing plant produced a large majority of the nickel mined and produced in the United States. By the end of the 20th century, many types of circulating coins in the United States had nickel as part of their composition.

Nickel is alo a hard metal (harder than copper)--the dies that struck nickel planchets (coin blanks) would wear significantly faster than dies that struck softer metals such as gold or silver.
Isn't it funny--copper was used to make some coins tougher but not others?
3. On which other 19th century coin would one see a shield similar to that found on the first circulating five cent coin, the Shield Nickel?

Answer: Two cent coin

Engraver James Longacre designed both the two cent coin (1864-1873) and the Shield Nickel (1866-1883) which might explain why a shield is prominently shown on the obverse (front) of each. Other coins designed by Longacre that did not include a shield are the Flying Eagle Cent, Indian Head Cent, and both versions of the three cent coin. In both cases, the shield is meant to signify the strength and unity of the United States.

The design of the reverse (back includes a change. A "5" is at the center surrounded by a circle of stars. During the first two years, rays coming out from the "5" are between the stars, while the coins of later years lack the rays.
4. What was Josh Tatum accused of doing to Liberty Head Nickels that led to him being on trial?

Answer: Coating them in a different metal

There is some uncertainty that Josh Tatum existed but it is believed that if he didn't other individuals did something similar to what he is accused of doing.

The Liberty Head Nickel was first issued in 1883. The reverse of the coin had a "V" (Roman numeral for "5") but no other indication of value. Because of a certain amount of resemblance between the nickel and the then-current version of the five dollar gold coin in circulation, Tatum had a large number of Liberty Head Nickels gold plated by a jeweler. Tatum is said to have visited various shops to make a five purchase (often a single cigar) and place the plated nickel on the counter.

If the merchant or clerk gave Tatum four dollars and ninety-five cents in change, Tatum would then quietly leave with his change. If the merchant or clerk seemed hesitant or had questions, Tatum would then quietly leave with nickel. After gaining quite a bit of money this way, Tatum was caught and arrested. When put on trial, Tatum was able to avoid punishment. He (or his lawyer) informed the court that Tatum was a deaf-mute and never actually asked for the change. He simply accepted the change that he was given.

Before 1883 was over, the mint had adopted a new design for the coin that included the word cents. Congress would later make it illegal to alter a coin with intent to deceive about its value.
5. Did the mint gradually increase production of the Liberty head Nickel with the largest number of coins being made in 1913, the final year of its production?

Answer: No

In its first year of production, over 21 million Liberty Head Nickels were made (between the type with "CENTS" and the type without). In most years, 10 million or more of the coins were made. The largest amount of production in one year was over 39 million in 1911. In 1912, there was actually a slight drop to about 35 million. 1912 was also the first year that any nickel was made outside of the Philadelphia branch of the mint. Almost 8.5 million were made in Denver that year to accompany nearly 250,000 from San Francisco.

In 1913, the US Mint switched to producing the new Buffalo Nickel. Nonetheless, with several years five 1913 Liberty Head Nickels appeared on the market. It is believed that a mint employee unofficially minted the coins from a die that had been prepared in advanced (but had been believed destroyed). Coin dealer began placing advertisements in newspapers for 1913 Liberty Head Nickels in 1913 and the next year began exhibiting a set of five. Since then the coins (either together or individually) have moved in and out of various collections and generally fetch a high price whenever any of them are up for sale.
6. Like some other US coins, a change was made to the Buffalo Nickel during its first year of production. What change was made?

Answer: The ground on which the animal stands was flattened

Numismatists refer to the earlier 1913 nickels where the ground is shaped more like a mound as "Type 1" and the later 1913 nickels where the ground is more flattened as "Type 2". The buffalo (properly speaking, a bison) was facing towards the left on all issues. Interestingly, the bison for the which the coin is often named appears on the reverse. Many coins receive their nicknames from a feature on the obverse. To be fair, many do refer to the coin as the "Indian Head Nickel" based on the obverse portrait of a Native American.

"E pluribus unum" appeared on the reverse of the coin during its entire run of production (1913-1938). "In God We Trust" was not used in the design of the coin. Although it appeared on many US coins, the phrase was not actually required by law at the time it was minted.
7. To a zoo in which city did James Fraser go to find the American bison that would be the model for the bison on the reverse of the Buffalo Nickel?

Answer: New York

James Fraser said that he found Black Diamond, the bison, at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. He described the difficulty in getting sketches of the animal, who would not stand still. Records indicate that Black Diamond actually resided in the Central park Zoo at the time. In either case, both zoos were and are in New York City. Although the animal is often referred to as an American buffalo or buffalo, it is, properly speaking a species of bison. Fraser also mentioned that when he was commissioned to design the nickel, he wanted to include features that would easily be recognized as "American".

There is some uncertainty who provided the model for the Native American portrayed on the obverse of the coin. It is thought perhaps to be a composite of more than one person. Unlike 19th century "Indian" figures on US coins, the face is Native American in appearance.
8. During the World War Two years, the usual composition of the nickel changed. Along with silver and copper, which other metal was used?

Answer: Manganese

the usual composition of the nickel was 75% copper and 25% nickel. During the war (1942-1945), the composition changed to 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. This particular composition was necessary for vending machines to accept the quarters without adjustment. This was needed at a time when five cents represented a significant amount of money. (For instance, at the time a Hershey's chocolate bar cost five cents.)

The reason for changing the composition was the feeling that the nickel needed to make the coins might be needed for the war effort. In the end, not enough nickel was saved to be a major factor. However, the wartime nickel was seen as symbolic of the sacrifices that people made during the war.
9. Which particular mint mark appeared for the first time on US coins during World War Two on the Jefferson Nickel?

Answer: P for Philadelphia

While mint marks indicating a coin had been produced at a US branch mint dated back to 1838, the Philadelphia Mint (as the headquarters) had not used a mint mark before. Before the war, mint marks on the Jefferson Nickel appeared to the left of Monticello on the reverse. During the war (1942-1945), larger mint marks appeared above Monticello's dome. The idea was that the specially placed mint marks would aid in the wartime nickels being removed from circulation after the war.

The next time that a "P" mint mark for Philadelphia was used would be 1979 on some Anthony Dollar Coins.
10. For 2004 and 2005, Jefferson Nickels sported special designs. Which event's 200th anniversary was the inspiration of these designs?

Answer: The Lewis and Clark Expedition

In 2004, the nickels kept Felix Schlag's portrait of Jefferson on the obverse. Two different reverses appeared. The first was a replica of the Peace Medals issued by the federal government to Native American leaders. The second depicted the keelboat that the Lewis and Clark expedition used to transport supplies on the Missouri River.

In 2005, the nickel sported a one year image of Jefferson based on a bust sculpted by the artist Houdon. Again there were two reverses. The first reverse showed an image of an American bison (popularly known as a buffalo. The second reverse showed an image of the Pacific Ocean from the shore.

In 2006, the nickel reverted to the familiar image of Monticello on the reverse. On the obverse, was a new depiction of Jefferson based on a drawing made by Rembrandt Peale. In the new image, Jefferson is looking forward rather than to the side.
Source: Author bernie73

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