by Al Doyle for CoinWeek ………
Mention 1913, and the multimillion-dollar Liberty nickel of that year (five known) is often the first thing that comes to the mind of collectors. There were a higher than average number of other low-mintage coins issued a century ago.
Buffalo nickels debuted in 1913 and are hugely popular with 21st century collectors. That combined with a stunning design. low mintages and heavy attrition explains why the Type 2 (bison standing on a straight line) 1913-D and 1913-S are among the keys in the series. Plan on spending something near $200 for a Very Fine (full horn on the buffalo) '13-D and more than twice that sum for the S-mint version.
Looking for a balance between rarity and affordability? The 1913-S Barber dime (mintage 510,000) qualifies at around $100 in Fine. No one ever accused the 1913-S Barber quarter of being a blue-collar coin. Just 40,000 were minted, which is the lowest total for any non-gold U.S. circulation strike of the 20th century. Despite those meager numbers, the '13-S saw extensive use in commerce, which means that even heavily worn specimens bring well over $1,000.
The Philadelphia Mint didn't work overtime on quarters in 1913, as 484,000 were produced. This elusive coin sells for around $75 in Fine. Speaking of better-date P-mints, the 1913 Barber half dollar has long been popular due to its mintage of 188,000. Most survivors are on the low end of the grading scale, which makes a '13-P in Fine or better a true numismatic prize.
A pair of 1913-dated gold pieces stand out from the pack. The 1913-S $10 Indian (66,000 struck) is one of the scarcer dates in the series, while the original mintage of 34,000 for the 1913-S Saint-Gaudens is the lowest such number for that classic coin. The "Saint" is closer in value to the common dates than the Indian.
What else was struck in 1913 that would appeal to lower-budget shoppers? Branch-mint Lincoln cents from Denver and San Francisco are far less common than many other dates, and they are quite affordable in grades as high as Extra Fine. The 1913 Type 1 Buffalo nickel will never be considered rare, but who can resist this incredibly appealing one-year type coin?
Century-old U.S. silver coinage for less than $10? That describes the 1913 Barber dime in Fine and Very Fine? The 1913-D Barber quarter (mintage 1,450,800) gets little publicity, but try and find one in Fine or better. The 1913-D and 1913-S Barber half dollars are lower-mintage dates (534,000 and 604,000 respectively) that command a modest premium.
Just because a numismatist is a few million dollars shy of obtaining a 1913 Liberty nickel is no excuse to completely avoid the coins of a century ago. To quote Frank Sinatra, it was a very good year.