Thomas Jefferson Nickels

thomas jefferson nickel die varieties and minting errors book for saleHello

The book will include:  Birth of the Nickel

Time for a Change

In 1938 the Mint changed the 25-year old design of the buffalo nickel without an act of Congress (the Act of September 25, 1890 required that a series to be at least 25 years old before making a change).  The mint conducted an open design contest with a $1,000 prize. Three hundred ninety entries were submitted.  The winning design by, Felix Schlag, was chosen on April 24, 1938.  The bust of Jefferson in the Boston Art Museum, sculpted by Jean-Antoine Houdon, is similar to the winning design.  The Mint was not required to keep the non-winning designs nor return them to the artist, therefore they were destroyed.

Breen Varities

Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins changes the listing numbers with every die change.  If only the date or mintmark are changed, the photograph would be the same as the next or last one.  When there is a change in the die varitiy the photo is included.  The errors listed in Breen’s book are in the error section.  Proofs (Pr) and business strikes (B) have the same Breen number.

Matte and Satin Finish Coins

The Mint honored the 250th anniversary of Jefferson’s birth by marketing the Thomas Jefferson 1993 coin and currency sets.  This was the only way to get the “Special Uncirculated or Matte Proof” coin.  In 1997, the Mint had a matte finish nickel in the Botanic Garden set.  With only 167,703 (1994) and 25,000 (1997) sets minted, the Matte finish nickel instantly became a rare coin.  The 1994 and 1997 Matte finish nickels were minted with sand blasted dies to create a frosted (Matte) look that matched our uncirculated commemorative coin finish.

In 2005, the Mint implemented this finish (sand blasted dies) to the annual uncirculated set.  This was to standardize the uncirculated finish across all product lines.  The mint discontinued this finish on the annual sets in 2010.  The main difference  betweem the 1994-1997 and the 2005-2010 nickels is that the former was minted on a proof press and handled like proof coins (one at a time).  The uncirculated  set nickels were minted on an uncirculated press and handled by conveyors and packaged by robotic systems.  Visually, the 1994-1997 coins will have fewer blemishes and nicks due to the handling and packaging.  The terms Matte finish and Satin finish are the same finish.  Notice the field difference between the 2006 P grainy matte finish and the 2006 S proof smooth finish below.  (Michael White, US Mint)

Die Varieties

Die varieties are any varition from the original engraver’s die design.  Some of the varieties include; doubled, tripled, and quardrupled dies; repunched mintmarks (RPMs), with the same letter an over mintmark (OMM) or  a different letter (D over D, S over S, S over D, or D over S). These varieties will continue until the die is retired from service.

Minting Errors

An “error” happens in the planchet or striking process and is NOT duplicated.  Coins that are double struck or have incomplete planchets are two examples of errors.  The error may look similar but is not exactly the same as any other.  The errors shown here are all on nickels but are not unique to them and may be found on any denomination.

Miscellaneous Other Coins

This section includes toned and cameo nickels

Man-Altered Coins

This section will show some of the methods men use to try make the coin more valuable