Where is the mint mark on a 1912 V nickel? As an avid coin collector, you may have come across a 1912 V nickel and wondered about the location of its mint mark. Knowing where to find the mint mark is key to determining the origin and potential value of the coin.
If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: the mint mark on a 1912 V nickel can be found on the reverse (tails) side of the coin, just below the spot between the ‘FIVE’ and ‘CENTS’. Now let’s dive into the details.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about locating the mint mark on your 1912 V nickel, the meaning behind different mint marks, and how it impacts the coin’s value for collectors.
Identifying a 1912 V Nickel
Key Date for Buffalo Nickels
The 1912 V nickel stands out as a highly sought-after key date in the Buffalo nickel series minted from 1913-1938. Most coin experts consider the 1913-S Type 1 and Type 2 Buffalo nickels as the undisputed keys for the series.
However, the 1912 V nickel deserves special recognition as it represented a transitional design leading up to the official Buffalo nickel release.
The V nickel gets its name from the large Roman numeral “V” placed on the reverse of the coin in 1912. This represented the five-cent denomination and foreshadowed the soon-to-be Buffalo nickel design.
Out of the few 1912 V nickels known to still exist, most are proofs rather than circulation strikes. This further increases collector demand for the scarce dates and mint marks.
V for the Five Cent Coin’s Design
Up until 1912, the Liberty Head nickel had been minted with only minor modifications since it debuted in 1883. However, the new V nickel shifted away from the traditional Liberty portrait to feature a simple Roman numeral set against a plain background on the reverse face.
This change reflected a broader shift happening in US coinage at the time.
The V represented the long-standing five-cent denomination while introducing a clean and modern numeral design. It provided a blank template that would soon display James Earle Fraser’s famous Native American portrait and bison sculpture on the 1913 Buffalo nickel.
Yet it was the 1912 V nickel that paved the way with this groundbreaking simplicity and focus on the coin’s base value over symbolic designs.
The same year as the V nickels, the famous Lincoln cents with wheat stalks began minting as well. Both the V nickel and Lincoln wheat cent shifted coinage in a more minimalist direction after decades of intricate portraits and decoration.
The V nickel only saw release in 1912 before Fraser’s full Buffalo design took over. But it remains an intriguing precursor that is still hunted by specialists today.
Locating the Mint Mark
Reverse Side Below the Lettering
The mint mark on a 1912 V nickel can be found on the reverse (tails) side of the coin, look closely underneath the words “FIVE CENTS” and you should see a small letter indicating which US mint the coin was struck at.
For 1912 nickels, you may find one of three mint marks:
- No mint mark – This means the coin was minted in Philadelphia. Philadelphia was the main US mint at the time, so coins struck there did not bear a mint mark.
- D – Coins with a D mint mark were struck at the Denver mint, which opened in 1906.
- S – The S mint mark signifies the San Francisco mint. This mint opened much earlier than Denver, in 1854.
So if your 1912 V nickel does not have a mint mark below the central design, you know it hails from the Philadelphia Mint. Any other letter in that spot indicates the coin is a Denver or San Francisco issue.
No Mint Mark Means Philadelphia Mint
As mentioned above, a lack of a mint mark on US coinage traditionally meant it was produced at the Philadelphia Mint. Philadelphia was the first and main US mint for many decades, so coins struck there did not need a special mark.
This changed in recent years. Since 1980, even Philadelphia coins have displayed a “P” mint mark to standardize the system across all mints. But in 1912 and earlier, no mark signified Philadelphia as the origin.
There were a few exceptions to this early on for certain coin types. But for Buffalo (or Indian Head) nickels made from 1913-1938 like the 1912 V, a missing mint mark does reliably indicate the Philadelphia mint.
This makes Philadelphia issues the most common among 1912 buffalo nickels. But Denver and San Francisco coins are more rare and collectible since those mints produced smaller quantities. Checking that space under “FIVE CENTS” is an important first step in valuing your 1912 V nickel.
Mint Marks and What They Mean
Philadelphia (No Mint Mark)
The Philadelphia Mint is one of the original four mints established in the United States. As the main facility for producing coins in the early years of the US, it did not need a mint mark to distinguish its coins. Thus, any coin minted in Philadelphia before 1980 does not have a mint mark.
This includes the 1912 V Nickel.
The lack of a mint mark on early US coinage has sometimes caused confusion among numismatists and collectors when identifying the origin of a coin. However, through historical records and expert analysis, the 1912 V Nickels without a mint mark can be reliably attributed to the Philadelphia Mint.
The Denver Mint began operations in 1906 when gold and silver mining was flourishing in Colorado and the western states. It was the first branch mint to open during a period of expansion of US mints to keep up with growing coin demand.
Coins minted in Denver can be identified by the ‘D’ mint mark placed below the primary design on the coin’s obverse (front) side. On the 1912 V nickel, the D mint mark is placed on the reverse side below the spot between the words ‘FIVE’ and ‘CENTS’.
San Francisco (S)
The San Francisco Mint started coin production in 1854 to serve the coin needs of the western US during the Gold Rush era. As with Denver, a distinguishing ‘S’ mint mark was placed on its coins to denote their origin.
|Used on 1912 V Nickel?
Impact of Mint Mark on Value
Higher Value for Low Mintage Marks
The mint mark on a 1912 V nickel can have a significant impact on its value to collectors. Specifically, nickels stamped with a lower mintage mint mark often command substantial premiums over their counterparts from mints that produced them in greater numbers.
For example, the 1912-S V nickel had a relatively small mintage of just 238,000 pieces. As such, examples graded in pristine condition can sell for upwards of $1,000 at auction. By comparison, 1912 V nickels from the Philadelphia Mint (which carried no mint mark) had a huge mintage of over 68 million and tend to sell for around $20-30 even in uncirculated condition.
So why does the mintage make such a big difference to serious collectors? Quite simply, with fewer specimens surviving from mints like San Francisco, the 1912-S is considerably tougher to obtain. This scarcity significantly boosts its desirability and market value.
Condition is Also Important
Yet having a lower mintage mark does not automatically make a 1912 V nickel valuable. Condition is still paramount in determining true worth.
For instance, while an extremely worn 1912-S may still carry a moderate premium over its Philadelphia counterpart, it likely will sell for far below examples exhibiting crisp, well-struck design details.
Most collectors covet nickels showing little to no evidence of circulation or other post-mint damage.
|Value in AU-50 Grade
|Value in MS-63 Grade
|No MM (Philadelphia)
|S (San Francisco)
As the above comparison shows, an AU-50 grade 1912-S V nickel (still exhibiting slight wear) may sell for around $175. But an example graded MS-63 by top third-party services like PCGS could potentially realize $800 or more at auction.
Condition drives significant value differences even for lower mintage pieces.
Authenticating and Grading Your Coin
Examine Key Features Up Close
When attempting to authenticate and grade a 1912 V nickel, one of the most important steps is to closely examine the coin under magnification to look for key features. Using a jeweler’s loupe or microscope, inspect the coin’s surface, design elements, and mint mark for signs of wear, damage, tooling, cleaning, etc.
Pay particular attention to the hair detail, lettering, date, and other high points that exhibit wear first.
Additionally, look at the fields and devices. On an authentic coin with minimal wear, the fields should be mostly flat and smooth while the devices should show fully rounded details. Heavily worn or damaged coins will lack such definition.
And remember, the mint mark on the 1912 V nickel is located on the reverse, below the wreath near the rim at about the 7 o’clock position when the coin is turned upside down.
Compare to Images of Graded Examples
Another useful authentication technique is comparing your 1912 V nickel to photographs of certified/graded specimens. Reputable third-party grading services like PCGS and NGC provide images of certified coins on their websites and apps.
Compare your coin to multiples graded at various levels from poor to mint state.
This visual cross-check can help identify wear patterns and signs of artificial enhancement. An early stage counterfeit may have improper devices while an altered coin could show excessive smoothness from cleaning.
So pay attention to the quality and consistency of strikes, luster, toning, surfaces, etc. Photograde books also showcase images of circulated grades.
Professional Grading For Collectability
Finally, consider having your 1912 V nickel professionally graded and encapsulated by PCGS, NGC, or ANACS. This process authenticates the coin, assigns an official numeric grade per the Sheldon scale, and protects the coin in an archival plastic holder with a serialized certification label.
Slabbed coins always trade for higher premiums vs. raw examples thanks to increased collector confidence.
For more value, pursue higher-end MS63 or MS64 grades. A certified MS65 from NGC or PCGS showing vibrant luster and minimal marks could trade for over $1,000 at auction. Just be sure to select a reputable TPG company and membership tier providing image verification, security tags, etc.
This preserves long-term liquidity for a prized early 20th-century nickel.
Where Is The Mint Mark On A 1912 V Nickel – Conclusion
As you can see, locating and identifying the mint mark on a 1912 V nickel takes some numismatic know-how. But armed with the details above, you can now confidently check any example you acquire and determine its origin and market value.
Finding one of these early nickels with a coveted mint mark like D or S can mean a valuable find for your collection. So check your change and coin jars to see if you have a 1912 V nickel hiding in there!