A rare Racketeer Nickel found in Deadwood

A strange coin was found in Deadwood’s Chinatown in 2001 within a trove of 227 coins but only recently experts were able to identify it as a rare 1883 “Racketeer Nickel”.

Racketeer Nickel (by Rapid City Journal)
Racketeer Nickel (by Rapid City Journal)

The coin was transported after the initial find in 2001 to South Dakota Archaeological Research Center in Rapid City for cataloguing and assessment. In 2009, the coin joined a quarter-million other historical artefacts in a new archaeological lab and storage facility housed in the bowels of Deadwood City Hall. Only last month California coin experts Kevin and Margie Akin re-discovered it and realised what it really was – a U.S. Mint issued 5-cent nickel, dubbed The Racketeer Nickel, that for the first time as a non-precious metal coin carried a Liberty-head design. When it came out grifters, con artists and scammers immediately began gold-plating them to pass as $5 gold coins. This new gold-plated coin, looking like a genuine five-dollar gold piece was also used as cuff buttons by fancy young men at that time. Experts say that the monetary value of the Racketeer Nickel (of less than 10 cents) is negligible but its historical significance cannot be understated.

(after Rapid City Journal)

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