Judd-1697 is a pattern Five Cent piece struck from the same designs as the regular issue, but with a distinctive and unusual edge. The edge, rather than being plain, had five raised ridges spaced equally around the circumference of the coin. This has become known as the "Blindman's Nickel" because, presumably, a blind person could identify the coin immediately just by feeling the edge. But, why was this made? With what other coin could it possible be confused? Was there some foreign coin being passed off as a U.S.Nickel? Had complaints been made by or on behalf by the sight-impaired community? If so, why were similar edge devices not placed on any other pattern coins of this year?
The real problem with the Nickel coinage began in 1883 when the word "CENTS" was left off reverse of the new Liberty Head design. People of low character began gold-plating the new Nickels and tried (with some success) to pass them off as $5 gold pieces. Could Judd-1697 be a late reaction to this problem? Considering that other "pattern" coins were struck subsequent to the year posted on their face, it is not unreasonable to suspect the same possibility in this case. Supposedly, Capt, John Haseltine knew of the 1882 Liberty Head 5 Cent pattern with a ridged edge as early as March 1, 1883, so who knows what could have happened between January 1 and the end of February 1882?