1912-S Liberty V Nickel: How To Authenticate And Identify
1912-S Liberty V Nickel isn't too difficult to authenticate, unless the coin is heavily circulated and the mint mark is flat and half is worn off. You can easily mistake a 1912-D for a 1912-S without experience, but if you look closley then you can see that the top of a well worn S will straight and with a slight notch, but a well worn D will have a more rounded appearance. Just remember, when it's heavily circulated you will only be able to see the top of the mint mark and that's what we're referencing here.
Often, and even when you can see the entire mint mark, it will look flat but you will still be able to tell it has a box like appearance, if not then it's altered. The reason it must look boxy is because the 1912-S Liberty V Nickel mint mark is the same used on the 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent. So it will have the same characteristics and that's a boxy appearance and a dimple in the top, innner serif.
You can see this most plainly when the coin is higher grade, but the mint mark will look a bit different on most examples because it was punched into a harder nickel-copper planchet and was often struck more than once to get the depth required. So the S mint mark on the V Nickel often looks a bit thicker than on a mostly copper planchet 1909-S VDB. Furthermore, being struck on the inner rim of the coin, it would wear faster and wwas more subject to the effects of being handled.
Reference the images below. Although you can't see it in the images there's usually a visible die crack from the rim to the mint mark.
Before you buy what you think is a authentic 1912-S Liberty V Nickel, make sure you look closely at the images provided and look at certified examples, or buy an example that's already certified by PCGS, NGC or ANACS.
Avoid buying raw examples unless you're 100% positive it's authentic. Furthermore avoid buying a possible 1912-S Liberty V Nickel from ebay sellers IF they state things like: "I will let you decide if it's authentic." or "Is it an authentic 1912-S?" or "I am not a coin dealer so I will let the bidders decide."
You just can't afford to take a chance and buy a fake or altered key date and if a seller doesn't know the facts then they shouldn't be selling such an expensive coin to begin with and you most certainly shouldn't buy from them.