Itâ€™s always fun to research an unusual coin. I had been preparing the auction lots for the May 2023 PAN show when I came across a ?nickel? in a 2X2 flip labeled â€ś1938 Jefferson Prototypeâ€ť. Hmm, I checked both sides, did not see the word COPY, I checked my pattern book and did not find it pictured so I started hitting the internet and found an example selling on EBAY for an incredible $999.99. Could it be? Had the KidZone found a coin that could finance our operations for the next few years? I could not believe it so I looked for SOLD examples of this 1938 Jefferson prototype and found none.
So with further research I found this so-called prototype may have been the result of an open competition sponsored by the Treasury for our new nickel in 1938. Apparently almost 400 artists submitted ideas for the new nickel and the plaster models for this particular nickel were actually sold by Stackâ€™s in 1994. Although the plasters were unsigned, they were attributed to a Dutch engraver named Karel Hejda. They were bought by a European dealer who had the plasters reduced and turned into dies that were used to strike 1998 pure silver examples in the year 1998. A 60th anniversary tribute for a designer that was not selected by the Treasury.
You wonder what possible market these would have and you also wonder how anyone believes they will get $999.99 for an example. My only thought, they are hoping the coins is an actual US Mint Pattern or some similar thing. In any event, a fun bit of research and a silver medal probably worth its silver value.