Jefferson nickels are finally getting some attention. As they do, it could be frustrating for a while to attempt to figure out which of the many long-overlooked dates will turn out to be better. One good bet, however, is likely to be the 1949-S, which has a lot of things going for it in terms of being one of the higher priced Jefferson nickels.
The different designs used on Jefferson nickels over the past few years seem to have caused some new interest in the coin. As the historic leader in terms of creating excitement, the 1950-D suddenly broke out of literally decades of having no price movement whatsoever to jump in price virtually in a matter of months to a current $30 in MS-65.
The 1950-D figures into the story of the 1949-S because it might have helped create a situation where the 1949-S was overlooked at the time.
With a mintage of 9,716,000, the 1949-S was a low-mintage Jefferson nickel. It didn’t seem so at the time, however, because the 1950 from Philadelphia had a virtually identical mintage and the 1950-D was at just 2,630,030. Under the circumstances, few would have saved the 1949-S when they could have saved the 1950-D.
The 1950-D became one of, if not the most, heavily hoarded coin in U.S. history. The best estimates suggest that 50 percent of its entire mintage ended up in hoards at the time.
Clearly there were people who were ready, willing and able to hoard, but would those people have hoarded any numbers of the 1949-S when they were so busy with the 1950-D? We can’t really answer that question. Historically, however, the 1949-S has been priced well below the 1950-D with the 1949-S listing today at $3.50 in MS-65.
Is the price gap fair? The best guess is probably not as the huge hoards of the 1950-D remain not in hoards but as individual examples in millions of collections. There have never been such reports regarding the 1949-S.
There has also never been demand to really test current supplies. In fairness, there should have been some Mint State examples of the 1949-S saved, but there is no reason to believe the saving would have been unusually high.
The grading services do not help in this case because there are not many people who are likely to send in a 1949-S as the cost of the service is significantly more than the coin is worth, even if it comes back with an MS-65 grade.
As a result, we look at the current $3.50 MS-65 price of the 1949-S and can’t honestly say if there is solid evidence that the price is too high, too low or just about right.
Of course, the real issue is that if demand increases as now appears to be the case, will there be an adequate top grade supply of the 1949-S? The best guess is probably not.
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