slybluenote's Blog

28 Jan 2022

The Wonderful World of Jefferson Nickels

Coins-United States | slybluenote

Top O’ the Morning folks!

Let me start by giving you the “specs” on this particular breed of coin. It was designed by Felix O. Schlag, weighs in at 5 grams, is composed of .750 copper, .250 nickel, a diameter of 21.2 mm, a plain edge and was minted at Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. While reading the book, 📖 , yes I actually bought and have consumed most of “A Guide Book of Buffalo and Jefferson Nickels”, I have to admit that I really enjoyed reading about the designer of this coin. He’s from Chicago and has a very interesting past. This and other pertinent information about this coin is contained in Chapters 7 and 8. I could probably write a short essay on these 2 chapters, but if you’re really interested, just go out and purchase a copy. For today’s post, we’ll just discuss the coins that are pictured. I recently purchased these from my local coin dealer and a couple of them were a “little” pricey, but that’s okay because I wanted nice ones for my collection.

First up is the 1960-D, circulation-strike mintage 192,582,180. This is a very nice coin with a fairly good strike. The only problem with this coin is the small scratch on the reverse over Monticello. Next is the 1938, which is the first year of issue, with a circulation-strike mintage of 19,496,000 and is also a nice looking coin from that era. The proof mintage for this coin is 19,365. Next is the 1939 and the circulation-strike mintage for it is 120,615,000 and the proof mintage is 12,535. This coin is also well struck and has good luster. The last coin is a 1942-D, variety-1 with a circulation-strike mintage of 13,938,000. Variety 2 of this coin was made at San Francisco and was the first strike of the “silver-composition “ wartime nickels. As in the 1941 coin, this 1942-D doesn’t have a lot of luster, which is typical per the book. The reverse of this coin does have a couple of problems, but overall is a fairly good strike.

I will never be as knowledgeable as Bernard Nagengast or Darryl Crane, but I do understand the concept. Learning the difference between 5-steps and 6-steps, sharply defined steps, “The Jefferson Nickel Analyst”, and reading about the Full Step Nickel Club and Jonah Shapiro, from Syracuse, N.Y., (which is a large city that I live near) who collected quite a few of the 1950-D nickels when they first came out. These 2 series, the Buffalo and Jefferson are actually quite complex when it comes to grading and collecting! As Mr. Bowers indicates in his book, there is the “casual” collectors and the “specialists” collectors. I’m definitely in the casual spot for sure!

As you can see by the last picture which is my jewelers tray, I’ve been pretty busy lately. I’ve built a inventory spreadsheet to track my coins, but it’s only about 80 percent complete, while also working on this year’s inventory. I guess everything is going to be good. Like I tell the folks at the grocery store, “I got more time than I do money”…. lol 😆! Anyway, the “feels like” temperature here is -5, so I’m considering going out and buying a heating blanket this weekend. Join me next time when we’ll discuss Mr. James Earl Fraser and his Buffalo 🦬 nickel. As always, stay safe, HEALTHY, and coronavirus free!

Charlie aka slybluenote



Level 4

I have known people that love the Jefferson design. I have not been a fan myself, but I can appreciate many of the aspects that drive the collecting of these coin, especially as the series has aged. The fine points of the building design intriguing , and the strike characteristics go beyond just the number of stair, but other parts of the building. The hard nickle itself is an interesting metal from an artistic perspective. It can have every interesting toning. One of the best parts of Jeffs is that there are still lots of conditional rarities available at low dollar values. It is fine coin to take interest in for the long haul.

Long Beard

Level 5

Love the Jefferson nickel. And Q. David Bowers is a top notch expert and author of many fine books.

It's Mokie

Level 6

The Jefferson nickel is definitely one of the best obverse "Old Man" designs, but like most coins with buildings, the reverse is lacking. Mr. Schlag's original submission showed a different view of Monticello that, to me, was much more pleasing but I guess someone in our highly efficient bureaucracy decided they wanted a full frontal design for some reason. Oh well, the government knows best.


Level 5

Thanks for the update on your collection. Always enjoy an update on what other collectors are doing out there in the numismatic world. About time I visited a couple of the local dealers to see what interesting things they have now.


Level 6

Great looking nickels! Enjoyed your blog Charlie! ; )

AC coin$

Level 6

Thanks for your fine blog. One must keep a close eye on special nickels and it runs by according to years of issue as you stated in your essay. Still, the acquisition of collectibles, in this case, coins is also determined by what is in one's heart and historical facts appreciation. Awesome finds. Your experience as a collector has given you an advantage that helps you seek and find the best. I admire you for your collection.


Level 6

Nice work Charlie. Hey question, shouldn't the '42-D war nickel have a big mint mark on it?


Level 5

There were 2 varieties that year. Variety 1 was minted before the war started, which I have both. Variety 2 has the mintmark on the reverse above Monticello.


Level 7

Nice blog. I like this coin. Very underrated. I have the set. I think its a great design and anyone can put this set together. There are rare nickels. The Botanical Gardens. 25,000. The 1997 . also a key date. I do have the six steps on more than a few. I always look for them. And the silver war nickels I love. Thanks for an enjoyable read. I always like them in our own words. Keep them coming!


Level 5

Yes, I also have one of those “6-step” coins in my collection, but didn’t really have a good understanding of what it meant until “I read the book”…lol

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