[The following excerpt is published courtesy of DLRC Press and its author, Gloria Peters & Cynthia Mohon. This information was originally published in 1995 in The Complete Guide to Shield and Liberty Head Nickels
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Liberty Head Nickel Design & Hub Changes
LIBERTY HEAD — OBVERSE HUBS
The design of the Liberty Head nickels is a more typical obverse design for coinage than was the Shield nickel.
The head of Liberty faces left. Her long hair is softly pulled back in waves to a gentle chignon with one neck curl escaping to the nape of her neck. She wears no ornament other than her tiara emblazoned with the word LIBERTY. Tucked behind the tiara she wears a bouquet of wheat ears, cotton bolls and leaves. Her bold, strong profile is encircled by thirteen six pointed stars which are raised and sculpted with detailed rays. Below the bust is the date with no other motto or legend. The border is dentiled with the typical rounded beads and the edge is plain. Only one obverse design is known.
LIBERTY HEAD — REVERSE HUBS
The first reverse has a large Roman numeral V in the center, partially encircled with a wreath of wheat ears, cotton bolls, corn ears and maple leaves which are tied gracefully with a bow at the bottom. The wreath is surrounded by the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in larger letters at the top and at the bottom with smaller letters for E PLURIBUS UNUM. The reverse is denticled at the border.
The second reverse has a more crowded appearance with the E PLURIBUS UNUM reduced in size and encircled at the top of the wreath with the Legend still above. Below the wreath’s bow is the word CENTS, separated from the legend by two dots. The A & M of AMERICA touch and the leaf above the left upright of the V is far from the serif of the V.
The discovery of a third reverse by one of us (Cynthia Mohon), which had not previously been reported shows the A & M in AMERICA are separate and do not touch at the base; the leaf above the left arm of the V is near the serif of the V.
LIBERTY HEAD — REVERSE HUBS
The three reverse hubs can easily be identified by the following ID points:
TYPE A: No Cents This is the first reverse hub. The word CENTS is not on the coin and E PLURIBUS UNUM encircles at the base of the wreath. This reverse is found on some 1883’s.
Type B: With Cents/Touching AM/Far Leaf This is the second hub. The word CENTS has been added to the reverse below the wreath and the letters A and M in AMERICA touch at the right foot of the A and the left foot of the M. Also the leaf above the left arm of the V is far from the serif of the V. This hub can be found on most 1883′s, all 1884 through 1900 and on some 1901′s. LIBERTY HEAD — REVERSE HUBS The three reverse hubs can easily be identified by the following ID points:
Type C: With Cents/A & M Separate/Near Leaf This hub has the word CENTS (as do all of the hubs after 1883), the A & M in AMERICA are separate and do not touch at the base, and the leaf above the left arm of the V is near the serif of the V. This hub can be found on some of the 1901′s and all of the subsequent years.