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Where is the 2009-P nickel?

 (Image courtesy www.usacoinbook.com)

(Image courtesy www.usacoinbook.com)

There is an old saying about what’s old is new again. Perhaps that is why men are dressing like it is the early 1960s thanks to the popularity of the Mad Men TV series that ran for seven seasons.

I am returning to the early 1960s for another reason thanks to a reader email question that came in over the weekend.

I am thinking in terms of circulation finds that got me started in 1963.

The email reads, “Where are the 2009-P Jefferson nickels? My brother who lives in Southern Illinois, and I here in the Louisville Metropolitan Area of Southern Indiana, between us have searched many boxes of Jeffersons. We have not found a single 2009-P nickel. Your opinion is an anxiously awaited.”

This is a good question and it is one that will be asked more and more often

The answer will be a familiar one to anyone who spent time filling albums and noting the difficult holes to fill.

We have been living in the shadow of the Great Recession since the financial crisis of 2008. The crisit occurred almost seven years ago.

Its impact on U.S. coin production in 2009 occurred six years ago.

A lot of newcomers have found numismatics since then and have no idea what happened, or old-timers could have been so focused on the crazy hot performance of gold and silver during that period that Jefferson nickels just weren’t on their radar.

Coin mintages collapsed in 2009 to levels that had not been seen in a half century.

Why?

When the economy was walloped in 2008, two things happened.

American families reduced their spending. The economy slowed and this reduced demand for new coinage.

Secondarily, those who lost their jobs or were afraid of losing their jobs raided every piggy bank they could find to keep paying their bills.

This brought many coins back into the banking system that had been, shall we say, resting?

This reduced demand for new coins even more.

Even collectors who had been squirreling away rolls of state quarters as collectibles were forced or persuaded to cash them in.

For some, it was financial necessity. For others, once rolls fell to face value, there seemed little point to keep holding them.

Which brings us around to the specific question of the 2009-P nickel.

Mintage of the 2009-P was 39,840,000 coins.

This was a drop of 86 percent from the 279,840,000 number struck at Philadelphia in 2008.

The 2008 Philadelphia number was itself down by 51 percent from the 571,680,000 struck in 2007.

The 2009 Philadelphia figure, therefore, is just 7 percent of the 2007 figure.

Other than when mintages fell to zero in the 1930s, few Mint output declines in our history were more severe.

So the reason that the 2009-P nickel has not been found by the reader and his brother is that there are relatively few of them to be found in the sea of billions of nickels that exist.

The 2009-D traced a similar path. Its mintage of 46,800,000 makes it a little more common than the 2009-P, but still scarce when compared to most other recent mintage numbers.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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