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V12 2009 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 40, October 4, 2009, Article 29

MYSTERIOUS LEDGER SIX NINE FOUR: NICKEL SHORTS

And here are a trio of what Tom Kays calls "Nickel Shorts" from Ledger 694. -Editor

"HEADS" OR "TAILS."

OLD-FASHIONED NICKEL, WITH FIGURE "5" ON OBVERSE
OR "HEAD" SIDE DECIDES MINT OFFICIAL

Washington, June 22 An old fashioned nickel gave Sec Shaw a new financial problem to decide today. It accompanied the following letter, which was addressed to Uncle Sam, Washington, D.C.

"Please find in close .05 ct for which I want you to tell me which side of the nickel is head and what is tails. Use nickel for postage in return. The nickel was one of the old-style with a large figure 5 on one side and a shield and the date on the other. Ordinarily the date appears on the "head" of all coins, but it struck Mr. Shaw that it was different with this one. He wanted to be fair, so he called in of his assistants but they could give him no advice. Finally the coin and letter were sent to the director of the mint, who disposed of the question with a long and formal letter to the anxious inquirer in which it was stated that the government knows neither "heads" nor "tails," but that each coin has an obverse and reverse side. In the coin in question, the figure 5 showed the obverse side, or the "head" in popular parlance. The reply was sent in a franked envelope and the government pocketed the nickel.

OWES HIS LIFE TO A LUCKY FIVE CENT PIECE

New York. May 11 Charles Kaplan of 402 Osborne Street, East New York, owes his life to a five-cent piece. He was walking along Livonia Avenue early yesterday morning when he saw two men fighting. He separated the combatants when one of them pulled a revolver and shot point blank at the peace-maker. Kaplan put his hand in a waistcoat pocket and found a flattened piece of lead and a bent nickel.

GILDED NICKELS

BOY'S POCKET PIECE RECALLS CURIOUS FINANCIAL OPERATIONS

The man who had just bought a cigar glanced at his change, and picked out a nickel which bore evidences of having been gilded. "That's funny," he observed, "wonder why anybody should ever bother to gild a nickel." "Probably some youngster did it to provide himself with a pocket piece," said the dealer, "Just as it used to be a habit of boys to silver a penny by rubbing mercury over it. It was a laborious occupation, but it made a rare pocket piece when I was a boy, and many a fine marble was swapped for one of them.

"The gilded nickel, though, reminds me of the epidemic of the sort that came a little over 20 years ago [1883] when the present style of coin was first adopted. Perhaps you remember that a few coins were issued without the word "cents" under the "V." It occurred to some happy soul that the "V" might as well apply to dollars as to cents, and that covered with gilt the coin ought to pass for a half-eagle. The result was that thousands of nickels were gilded, and it seemed as if half of those in circulation were either a bright yellow or gave indications of having been.

"Occasionally now you run across a nickel like that one you have there, with traces of yellow on it, and I never see one without thinking of the hours I put in as a boy trying to turn nickels into what I thought might pass for five-dollar gold pieces."

Wayne Homren, Editor

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