Though a popular design even in its own time, the Indian Head/Buffalo Nickel was tough on dies, and the U. S. Mint was eager to replace it with something more practical as soon as its statutory production of 25 years had been achieved. An open competition for a coin depicting Thomas Jefferson and his self-designed home, Monticello, was won by Felix Schlag. Only his obverse was used, however, as the Mint substituted an elevation view of the house in place of Schlag’s dramatic perspective. Again, the primary concern was practicality and maximizing die life.
Coined in very large numbers from its inception, the Jefferson Nickel series includes no rarities within the normal date/mint entries. There are condition rarities, however, particularly with respect to coins being fully struck. For certain issues, Jefferson Nickels displaying fully wrought steps on Monticello are all but unknown and command significant premiums. Only recently has this series gained much popularity with date/mint collectors, with a particular emphasis being placed on such top quality pieces.
The variety collector will find many items of interest in this long-running series. A great number of repunched mintmarks are known, though many are detectable only with magnification. Of more widespread popularity are the 1943/2-P overdate, the D/S and S/D varieties and several prominent doubled dies.