It’s 1870 and your pocket is full of small change. What does it look like?
We have the two-cent piece, copper and featuring that godly motto. The three-cent nickel with the Liberty head joins the Indian princess of Liberty on the cent. The little bitty “trime” or silver three-cent piece features a shield within a six-pointed star. (Not a five!) The newly developed nickel five-cent piece, just five years into production, shows a similar shield (and motto) as the two-cent piece. Lastly, we see the silver half dime with the seated Liberty goddess. That issue was only four years from retirement, thanks to the Shield Nickel.
The shield motif was in vogue now, even in miniature on the reverse of the Indian cent.
I tried to get the relative sizes about right. During the days of Vatican I, this nineteen cents would buy a fair bit. Today, these nice, shiny coins would be worth considerably more.
Just for fun, I’ve added another photo from the CoinFacts web site, a very interesting place to surf and gawk at nice collectibles, by the way. The Augustus Saint Gaudens depiction of the goddess Liberty for the US twenty dollar gold piece (1907-1933) is acclaimed as the centerpiece of America’s most beautiful coin. But the predecessor design wasn’t too shabby: