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Could wallflower nickel grab collector attention?

It may well be time to take a new look at old Jefferson nickels. With two years of special designs and now a new regular design, the older Jefferson nickels will slowly but surely begin to disappear. As they do, there might be some increased interest in completing collections.

While the historic pattern is not always evident in large numbers, the fact remains that as an old design tends to disappear from circulation it frequently becomes interesting to many who had previously ignored it.

That pattern stretches all the way back to at least 1857 when, suddenly confronted with the first small Flying Eagle cent, many suddenly decided that collecting large cents was a good idea. We also saw it in the 1960s. After the Lincoln Memorial reverse was first released in 1959, many began to save Lincoln cents with wheat stalk reverses.

Now we have an emerging situation with Jefferson nickels, as they too are likely to be saved. In circulated grades many of the dates have literally no potential. In Mint State, however, a date like the 1955 might well be a coin worth considering.

The 1955 Jefferson nickel was a date that should have attracted a good deal of attention with a mintage of just 8,266,200. Any mintage below 10 million was definitely low for a Jefferson nickel. That was certainly noticed and some were certainly saved, perhaps by both collectors and dealers at the time.

The problem was that in 1955 there were many other possibilities to attract the interest and dollars of collectors. In 1955 everyone was told that the 1955-S cent and dime would be the final coins from San Francisco.

Both were low mintage and heavily saved. The 1955 and 1955-D Roosevelt dimes were even lower mintage, so all three dimes were hoarded. Special holders were even produced to house the coins.

The year was literally one low mintage coin after another. The 1955 Jefferson nickel was joined by at least one relatively low mintage coin for every denomination. Interest and saving levels were high. People at the time were routinely saving rolls, but few would have been saving uncirculated rolls of every denomination.

In all probability, the heavily saved 1955-S Lincoln cent was the leader, followed by the dime and then perhaps the 1955 Jefferson nickel when it came to the likelihood of being saved in any numbers. Moreover, all the low mintage dates were cast in the large shadow created by the 1955 doubled-die Lincoln cent that, once discovered, dominated headlines.

Today we see the 1955 is at prices of less than $1 in MS-60, $2 in MS-65 and $85 if it is in MS-65 and has full steps. These are low levels given the relatively low mintage. The price of an original roll, at $26, seems awfully inexpensive as well. The prices might have been fair for demand at the time, but if we see an increase the 1955 might just join other Jefferson nickels at higher prices.

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