a wooden nickel

a wooden nickel

A person or thing that only vaguely appears to have any real value, but is ultimately worthless. A nickel is worth five cents, thus already being worth very little. Primarily heard in US. This whole accreditation scheme has as much value as a wooden nickel when it does nothing to get you more work in the field.
See also: nickel, wooden
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

a wooden nickel

AMERICAN
If you call something a wooden nickel, you mean that it is completely false or has no value. Note: A nickel is a five cent coin and a dime is a ten cent coin. He looked at the card as though it were a wooden nickel. `That doesn't prove a thing,' he said.
See also: nickel, wooden
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
The museum's Web site (http://www.wooden-nickel.net) lets you sign up for a wooden nickel mailing list and explains the history of the coins (originally, they were legal tender in certain places).
Doctors are human like everyone else, says consultant Quint Studer, "they want appreciation, and on a consistent basis," but few will sell their loyalty for a wooden nickel.