By James McCartney, Numismatist & Cataloger – Stack’s Bowers …..
While the earliest days of the U.S. Mint boast the greatest density of true rarities, even the modern era of U.S. numismatics has its share of exciting treasures, and sometimes finding them takes only a loupe and an afternoon’s ambition.
Among these scarcities is the Full Step 1969-D Jefferson nickel.
Though mintage figures will confirm that no Jefferson nickel is rare in an absolute sense, available populations are at times dwindled down to single digits when preservation and strike are taken into consideration. The nickels struck by the Denver Mint in 1969 demonstrate this conditional rarity, evidenced by the fact that just a single coin from a mintage of over 202 million pieces exhibits enough sharpness to be considered Full Steps. And that gorgeous jewel will be offered in our Rarities Night session at the August 2016 Official Auction of the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Anaheim.
This incredible 20th-century rarity displays brilliant, platinum-white color and pearlescent luster on both sides. The surfaces are comprehensively frosted, with faint prooflike reflectivity apparent in the fields. Certainly most significant is the profound definition exhibited by the design elements throughout. A thin wire rim traces the circumference in some areas, enclosing sharp legends and boldly pronounced centers that mimic the striking characteristics of a Special Mint Set issue of the era.
Monticello’s steps are nicely delineated and exhibit just the faintest modicum of softness at the lower right region. Among representatives of the issue, this piece rests at the pinnacle.
The Full Step 1969-D Jefferson nickel was called the “Golden Fleece” by Q. Dave Bowers, with Scott Schechter suggesting in a December 2012 Coin World article that the owner of such a coin would be “the King of Jefferson Nickel Collectors.”
The master hub of the Reverse of 1940 had been in use for nearly 30 years when this issue was struck. Fatigue was apparent in the amorphous quality of the more intricate design elements, most notably the steps to Monticello. While modifications to improve definition were made to the master hub in time for the 1968 production run, these efforts were largely in vain and the hub was retired in 1970.
For this reason, compounded with inconsistent overall minting quality, the Jefferson nickels of the 1960s are considerable strike-rarities, of which the 1969-D is among the most elusive. The present specimen is the only example of the issue recognized as having Full Steps by either PCGS or NGC, placing it in a class all of its own for Registry set enthusiasts.
This important modern rarity will be offered alongside other treasures in the Rarities Night session of our August 2016 Anaheim ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction. To consign your rarities to this showcase event, please contact our offices today at 1-800-458-4646 to speak with a Consignment Director and see what Stack’s Bowers Galleries can do for you.