nickels. There have been similar bans in the past, e.g., the silver melting ban of 1967 – 1969 and the pennymelting ban of 1974 – 1978. Only time will tell if this ban will be permanent.
The term “nickel” has been used since 1857, though not for the coin with which we are familiar today. The1856 – 1858 Flying Eagle cent and the 1859 – 1864 Indian Head cent were known as nickels due to their composition of 12% nickel and 88% copper. In 1865 the three-cent piece was introduced with a composition of 25% nickel and 75% copper and became the new nickel of the time. One year later in 1866 the Shield nickelwas introduced as a five-cent coin. Since that time the term nickel has applied to the five-cent coin like those incurrent circulation.Since 1866, the design of the nickel has changed, but the weight has always been 5 grams and its compositionwas only changed once as a temporary measure during World War II. Nickel and copper were needed for thewar effort so the less strategically important metals, silver and manganese, were substituted.YEARSDESIGNWEIGHTCOMPOSITION1866 – 1883Shield5 g25% nickel, 75% copper 1883 – 1913Liberty Head V5 g25% nickel, 75% copper 1913 – 1938Indian Head / Buffalo5 g25% nickel, 75% copper 1938 – 1942Jefferson5 g25% nickel, 75% copper 1942 – 1945Jefferson5 g56% copper, 35% silver, 9% manganese1946 – currentJefferson5 g25% nickel, 75% copper Note: there is an unofficial variant of a 1944 nickel known as a Henning nickel which is easily detected. Thiswas a counterfeit coin produced in 1954 by a man named Francis LeRoy Henning. These nickels were quicklyspotted as Mr. Henning had not included the large mint mark over Monticello’s dome that was common to allthe silver bearing wartime nickels. He is also known to have minted nickels dated 1939, 1946, 1947, possibly1953, and perhaps one other date. The nickels were minted from the same metal alloy as genuine nickels.At the time of this writing, the common nickel made of cupronickel is worth $0.0578, slightly over its facevalue. See the note above regarding the illegality of melting pennies and nickels. Wartime nickels, with their 35% silver content are worth about $1.92 each.
The first dimes minted for circulation were produced in 1796. The design, weight, and composition of the coinhave been changed as summarized below.YEARSDESIGNWEIGHTCOMPOSITION1796 – 1807Draped Bust2.70 g89.24% silver, 10.76% copper 1809 – 1837Capped Bust2.70 g89.24% silver, 10.76% copper 1837 – 1853Seated Liberty2.67 g90% silver, 10% copper 1853 – 1873Seated Liberty2.49 g90% silver, 10% copper