What is the value of an 1861 nickel

Cent, nickel, dime - what is actually shown on small American coins and why?

The three smallest denominations of American coins give us a little lesson in American history. The fact that the first settlers who began a new life on North American land were zealous religious believers who saw no future in the old world because of their uncompromising attitude can still be seen today in the coin image. IN GOD WE TRUST - in God we trust, this motto can be read on all money tokens in the United States. Which God is rather irrelevant, the main thing is that he can be reconciled with the American version of freedom. The word LIBERTY can also be read in large letters on the front of the coin. The country name and another motto can be found on the back. E PLURIBUS UNUM - the many become one - from the outside this statement looks more like a claim than reality.

Cent. Source: Wikipedia.

On the other hand, whoever is depicted on the pieces, as a patriotic American, must be known immediately, even without inscription. Most people will know Abraham Lincoln (President 1861-1865) on the 1 cent piece. Born in Kentucky in 1809, the 16th President of the USA is not only considered the archetype of a "self-made man", but also the conscience of America. He was the politician who abolished slavery. The fact that this was not only a victory for morals, but that Lincoln also disciplined the more federally oriented southern states with it, is often swept under the table.
The new design of our 1-cent piece was presented in 1959 on the occasion of the 150th birthday of Mr. President. On the back is the Lincoln Memorial, a Greek temple-style monument that was inaugurated in 1922. 36 pillars support the building. They represent the 36 states that were members of the United States at the time of Lincoln's death. The honored one would probably have liked the inauguration ceremony less. The audience was strictly separated according to race; the black speakers had to overcome cordons to get to the lectern at all. Even so, the Lincoln Memorial has become a place associated with racial equality. In 1963, Martin Luther King gave his famous speech “I have a dream” in front of this building.

Special editions of the 1-Cent from 2009. Source: Wikipedia.

On the occasion of Lincoln's 200th birthday, another redesign of the cent was planned. Because it had meanwhile discovered how much US citizens love to hoard special coins, the decision was made not to have just one portrait, but rather four. In 2009 a new coin was issued every three months, dedicated to the following topics: 1.) Lincoln's birth in Kentucky (1809-1816), his years in Indiana (1816-1830), his professional life in Illinois (1830-1861) and his Washington Presidency (1861-1865).

The nickel. Source: Wikipedia.

The 5-cent piece, popularly known as nickel for short, shows the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (President 1801-1809), who is perhaps a little less well-known in this country. Even before the independence of the states from England he was a committed politician who called for the "rights of America" ​​in letters and articles. The United States owes the Declaration of Independence and the two-party system to Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson founded a party based on strong participation of the people, which lives on today in the Democrats. Not to forget the Louisiana purchase - for around 15 million dollars, Jefferson bought Napoleon not only the current state of that name, but also a territory that makes up a quarter of the modern United States.
Even if the building on the back of the 5-cent coin, which was first issued in 1938, is reminiscent of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, the MONTICELLO signature tells us that this is not the memorial, but the Jeffersons Villa in Charlottesville, Virginia, to which Jefferson retired after his two terms in office.
Incidentally, the fact that Monticello is still shown on the newest nickels goes back to a legislative initiative pushed through by Eric Cantor, Congressman for Virginia, where Monticello is located. Actually, the nickel should be completely renewed. Instead of a boring building, the US Mint planned a portrait of the painter Gilbert Stuart, an Indian and a bald eagle. However, those responsible had failed to obtain the approval of Congress. Cantor's protest brought about a law to maintain the American 5-cent Coin Design Continuity Act, Public Law 108-15. It stipulates that Monticello will be featured on the coin until Congress decides otherwise. Another motif was accepted for 2004 and 2005, the villa has been on view again since 2006, the well-known profile of the front has meanwhile given way to a frontal view of Jefferson.

The dime. Source: Wikipedia.

In the United States, a dime is the 10-cent piece. The word comes from the Latin decimus, which the French shortened to disme for the tenth part, and the Americans adopted it as dime.
Since 1946, the first anniversary of the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt (President 1933-1945), this man's head has been on the dime. Roosevelt came from the country's political upper class. He had family ties with a total of ten presidents, including of course his cousin Theodore Roosevelt, who nicknamed our stuffed bear Teddy. Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected Governor of New York in 1928 - politically a bad time, because his term of office coincided with the "Great Depression", the great unemployment that hit New York State particularly hard. Roosevelt became famous across the country for addressing his citizens over the radio. In the so-called "fireside chats" (= fireplace chats) he informed about his political efforts and tried to encourage those affected. That was new then and made Roosevelt known across the country. The Democrats ran him as their presidential candidate in 1932 and, in fact, Roosevelt won the election. He was to win three more, making him the only president to have lived in the White House for more than two terms. Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" policy slowly led the United States out of the crisis and into World War II. Roosevelt did not live to see the Allied victory. He died on April 12, 1945. He was spared having to order the atomic bombs to be dropped.
The back of the dime does not show a monument, but a torch as a symbol of Liberty between a laurel branch, symbol of victory, and an oak branch, symbol of Roosevelt's closeness to the people.

If you want to know more about American coins, please visit the United States Mint website. There is material specially compiled for school children and teachers. To get there directly, click here.