[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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Altered Date & Added Mint Mark
The 1913 Liberty head nickel qualifies under all of the above titled descriptions. The alteration of Liberty head nickels dated either 1910, 1911, or 1912 to the rare 1913 is recorded in many numismatic publications. Major advertising was done in the ’20′s to locate a formerly unknown, and rare, 1913 nickel. To most people, the $600 offered for finding a 1913 nickel was a small fortune and the hunt continued for several years. Samuel W. Brown must have gotten quite a chuckle out of the public masses checking all their change for 1913 nickels which only he owned (see chapter 7). It also led entrepreneurs, amateur and pros alike, to put their skills to work in altering regular issue dates into the rare 1913. One method reported was to lift a 3 from an 1883, 1893 or 1903 and place the 3 on a 1910 or 1912 coin. “Some of these transfers are so skillfully performed that only by heating the coin to several hundred degrees will the 3 fall off.” (NSM, June, 1961 pg. 1709)
Probably the more common method and one requiring less skill in alteration is to chase (tool) the metal to form a 3. Usually there is an indentation around the 3 coupled with a darkness in the metal around the alteration, which is easily assumed to be dirt or normal discoloration on a circulated coin.
The photo below is an altered-date 1913 from a 1910 issue. The coin was found in a junk box among a large number of other coins. We believe it to be a chased-metal alteration and the workmanship is quite good. Several years ago a man named Joe Gaidor made approximately two hundred 1913 altered date nickels as a joke. They were crudely produced and were not made with the intent to defraud. He sold the altered coin in a plastic holder inscribed “1913 Nickel…You Wish.” (Reported by Hy Brown). It would be interesting to find one of the “joke” alterations for comparison.
Altered Date Metal was chased from 1910 to simulate the rare 1913 nickel. The 0 was trimmed in front center and rounded to form open area of 3; the back of the upper part of the 0 was chased inward and shaped to form waist of 3. Coin courtesy of David Snider.
1910 Altered Date (1913)
Metal was chased to simulate the rare 1913 nickel. Coin courtesy of John McIntosh.