I recently received a question on what the current value is for 2005-P Westward Journey Bison nickels with a “Detached Leg.” I knew that grading services were attributing them as “detached leg” and that at least a few years ago the coins were selling for hundreds of dollars on the television network outlets that were promoting them.
Still, it was my opinion that you only had to take a look at the design to see that this aberration was going to repeat itself over and over again on many dies. Where you have extensive areas of design that are relatively close to the field even when the dies are new, (as we have on this coin), it stands to reason they will be abraded and worn away much easier and more often than coins that feature generally deeper designs throughout. The most common cause of this is routine die-dressings like aluminum oxide cloth (or other abrasives) that the Mint applies to dies several times during their life to remove die clash marks and other minor imperfections.
My prediction in a previous Numismatic News article back in May of 2005 was that the variety was going to boom and bust due to the sheer numbers I believed would be found and the fact that very few abraded die varieties ever catch on with the hobby. Sure enough, in time we started getting reports of thousands and thousands of them being found with varying degrees of detachment from many different dies – even on proof coins. I also note here again that none of the mainstream dealers that advertise in places like Numismatic News or set up to sell their wares at coin shows were handling or promoting them.
So to make a long story short, I was curious as to how my prediction turned out and decided to answer this fellow’s question. After doing a bit of homework, I was very surprised at just how far the value had dropped on these coins from their television-promotional highs that ranged up into the hundreds of dollars.
In checking on eBay I saw a lot of sellers attempting to get well over $100 for these (you would too if you paid hundreds of dollars for one of these a few years ago), but when I ran a search on eBay completed auctions, I noted that those that were actually selling, were trading in the $3-$7 range for ungraded pieces and the $14-$25 range for certified examples in MS-64 and MS-65 grades.
At this point, some readers may find it of value to review what I wrote in my May 2005 article in reference to this coin.
Then I wrote, “Variety types that are often viewed as extremely minor by variety coin catalogers and specialists (as this type is) often see extensive promotions on eBay to more mainstream collectors, including many who are new to the hobby. Many of these variety types sell at high prices in the beginning and fall dramatically as demand is satisfied. On eBay it is often a case of the early bird paying the highest price.
“Abraded die varieties are extremely common on United States coins and are found on just about every date and denomination struck. During the 1960s there was an attempt by some dealers to promote some of the more obvious ones. On the obverse of Lincoln cents, promoters dreamed up the so-called “Broken Vest” and for the reverse the “Floating Roof” can be found on many dates.
“On the obverse of Jefferson nickels, the use of die abrasives created the “Floating Adams Apple variety,” while on the reverse porch details within the Monticello building often “disappeared,” creating left or right “Missing Porch” varieties.
“Other missing detail variations that lent themselves to colorful names were found and marketed to some degree but virtually none caught on with collectors and interest in the area virtually died out to nothing. If history is any indication of where we can expect to see these newest promotions end up in terms of value – fate does not bode them well.”
So here we are in the latter half of 2008 and we see the prediction came true. The lesson is no matter how good sellers can make a minor variety or error look, it will usually end up largely ignored and of little value when the dust settles and the promotions are over.