In its day, the 1950-D nickel simply eclipsed every other coin of the period and that included another pretty good 1950 nickel that was produced in Philadelphia the same year.
The 1950-D was easily the lowest mintage Jefferson nickel with a total of just over 2.6 million. Back in the early 1950s, mintage totals were seen as more significant than they are today. Back then there were no reports from grading services to tell us if the coin is more or less available than the mintage suggests. There were also nowhere near the number of excellent books to tell us if a date was tough or easy. Back in 1950, being the lowest mintage Jefferson nickel spelled big money to many.
The 1950-D simply took off in price and in the process generated headlines and became even more desirable. Few would have even noticed that the 1950 Jefferson nickel had a low mintage as well, and that both the 1949 and 1951 were lower than the 1950.
The years that followed would do nothing to enhance the interest in the 1950 as collectors went from one interesting coin to another. A few might have noticed that the 1950 was lower in mintage. However, there were still 1950 nickels in circulation. However, by the time anyone would have noticed the 1950’s lower mintage, it was years later and interest in all dates of Jefferson nickels was on the decline.
In the late 1990s, the 1950 was at a price of $2.25 in MS-65, and today that price has moved higher to $12. While lower than some dates of the 1950s, it is higher than many dates after the decade.
Back in the late 1990s, you could buy a roll of uncirculated 1950 nickels for $35, and interestingly enough that is one area where the 1950 has really moved in price. Today, an uncirculated roll is now up to $120. Part of the reason is that dealers have been regularly looking for uncirculated rolls and sometimes at prices that are near retail levels. It is a clear suggestion that even if you want a roll, finding someone willing to sell you one even for the higher $120 price may be a problem.
Certainly the 1950 Jefferson nickel is not approaching any of the best date Jefferson nickels, but the signs are all in place that the it is in fact a better Jefferson nickel just as its mintage would suggest.