Top Jefferson ‘nickels’ impress

1939 5-cent piece at $23,500
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Published : 03/05/14
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Several Jefferson 5-cent coins brought major prices at Heritage’s recent American Numismatic Association National Money Show auction.

As third-party grading service population reports provide measurable data as to the rarity of certain issues with fully defined steps, collectors seem increasingly confident in paying huge prices for top-graded examples. 

On Feb. 27, a gorgeous 1939 Jefferson, Reverse of 1940 5-cent piece graded Mint State 68 full steps by Professional Coin Grading Service brought $23,500. 

Of the two reverse subtypes used on 5-cent pieces in 1939, this is the more common one. 

The lot description commented on the strength of the fully struck steps on Monticello, stating, “The Reverse of 1940 Jefferson nickels dated 1939 are noted for their strong, straight steps, though usually they are not this strong and straight.” 

Beyond the bold strike, both sides had gorgeous pastel colors, adding substantial visual appeal. 

Another coin with lovely soft toning that brought a substantial amount was a 1951 5-cent piece in PCGS MS-67 full steps that sold for $16,450. Again, it’s the single finest example of the issue with full steps designation.

For a sense of the additional premium that collectors are willing to pay for the lone finest known example, consider that in different offerings in 2013, examples of the issue in MS-66 full steps brought $1,116.25 and $940. 

An extraordinary representative of the World War II composition employed from 1942 to 1945, which contains 35 percent silver, was called by Heritage “The Ultimate War Nickel.” This 1944-D Jefferson 5-cent piece is one of eight examples of the entire Wartime composition that PCGS has graded MS-68 full steps and is the first that Heritage has offered at auction.

A different Wartime Jefferson, dated 1943-P and graded MS-67+ full steps, brought $2,585. At the time of sale, PCGS had graded 55 1943-P examples as MS-67 full steps and four in MS-67+ full steps. Just a single example carries a higher grade. In a Jan. 12 Heritage auction, two graded PCGS MS-67 (without the + sign) brought $1,116.25 and $969.38.

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