A mix of classic and modern U.S. coins are on offer this week, as David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction #957 enters the home stretch. The Virginia Beach-based coin company has long offered collectors an easy and simple auction format, weekly auctions with a interesting variety of certified coins for all budgets, many at no reserve, and all with no buyer’s premium. Auction #957 closes on April 23, 2017 at 8pm Eastern.
Collectors looking to add to notch a few extra points in their modern coin registry sets will want to take a close look at this auction’s selection of high eye-appeal, premium quality certified coins.
In the following article, CoinWeek’s editors take a look at one modern coin lot on offer and break down its potential significance in the building of a top tier registry set.
Underrated 1950s-Era Proof Jefferson
Well-preserved late 1950s Proof issues are not difficult to come by. At current market levels, the going rate for an NGC- or PCGS-certified Proof 68 1958 Jefferson nickel is about $30. At this price point, you are buying convenience, a certification number, and a sight-unseen tradable coin holder.
Proof examples of this issue in Cameo or Deep Cameo are another story altogether.
The U.S. Mint produced 15 Proof Sets between 1950 and 1964, producing the sets to satisfy rapidly increasing demand for these high quality, highly brilliant and reflective coins. The appearance of cameo contrast on these coins appeared merely by the circumstance of fresh dies being used to strike coins.
The conventional wisdom has it that cameos in the early 1950s are the scarcest and that the appearance of cameos increases along with the rising mintages of Proofs as the ’50s progress.
While cameos and deep cameos in the 1960s are the most prevalent of the series, this assumption is not entirely correct as it pertains to 1950s coinage.
After compiling a table ranking the total number of Proof Jefferson nickels certified by NGC in Cameo and Proof Cameo between 1950 and 1964, we can reveal what we have long suspected: despite its mintage of 875,652 pieces, the 1958 is a better date Jefferson nickel Proof than people realize.
The 1958 Jefferson Nickel is seldom encountered in PF69CAM, with just 42 examples certified as such by NGC at the time of publication. A sole example is certified PF69UCAM by NGC. To date, only eight specimens in all grades for the issue have qualified for the designation.
Pricing trends for the PF69CAM see the coin trading for $300 to $400. Outliers above this market level show enough frost to warrant a potential second look for the Ultra Cameo designation.
Taking a step down, the PF68CAM offers a good opportunity for collectors wishing to stay below $250 per coin.
With 141 examples certified in PF68CAM, this is the typical better state of preservation nickel with a frosted appearance. In our graph, you see that PF68CAM accounts for 50% of the total certified with the designation. PF68UCAM is also the typical grade for coins that exhibit superior frost.
The price range for the PF68CAM varies dramatically. Recent GreatCollections Auctions show examples selling from $50 to $1,000.
Quite a range, so what gives?
CAM and UCAM: Imperfect Designations
Third party grading services did not initially recognize the designations Cameo and Ultra Cameo. While these features seem readily apparent on a coin’s surface today, the spectrum of how much frost can appear on a coin varies dramatically.
Proofs with frost can exhibit wisps of frost all the way up to a thick cloudy blanket of the stuff, rendering the current two-tier system imprecise.
Because of this, coins that exhibit modest amounts of Cameo are likely to bring significantly less money than fully frosted examples. The coins we link to with hammer prices below $100 do not have that sizzling contrast that one would imagines when they think “Cameo”.
On the other end of the spectrum, 1958 nickels that exhibit cameo on the borderline of Ultra Cameo bring prices at or well above market. To determine what market price is accurate for the coin you want in your set, define your personal standards. Do you want a coin that wows? Then, you are buying at the upper end $200 and above. Do you want a coin that is so-so? Well, then buy price.
The scans provided by David Lawrence for Lot 8062, 1958 Jefferson Nickel NGC Proof 68 CAM, shows a black and white example shows a black and white example. The scan reveals modest amounts of cameo, which appears strong on the reverse and shows just a hint of apparent weakness at the bust truncation.
Starting Bid is $185 against a pre-sale estimate of $200.