I searched v my very first roll that nickels in 1993, as soon as I was 12 years old and first getting into coin collecting. Ns remember recognize one or 2 pre-1960 Jefferson nickels in nearly every roll ago in those days, but I didn’t discover my first wartime nickel, a Jefferson nickel made in between 1942 and 1945 and containing a 35% silver composition, until some 15 years later. It to be a 1943-P nickel in Fine problem that I found in jukebox change from a Johnny Rockets retro diner – a fitting location for such a mid-century coin find.

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I’ve picked with nickel rolls here and also there over the years, however never more than five, perhaps 10, in ~ a time. My ideal roll find were another well-circulated battle nickel and a multitude of common-date pieces from the 1940s and also ’50s, v an occasional 1939 Philadelphia Mint specimen popping increase from time to time. So freshly I determined to search with a $100 crate of nickels, which contains 50 rolfes of 40 nickels each. I had actually hopes that, probably – lastly – I’d make some really good finds. Probably I’d stumble on one or two more war nickels, maybe uncover a 1939-D or 1950-D nickel, or maybe even score my very first roll-find Buffalo nickel.

I was admittedly enthusiastic about venturing v a box of nickels after ~ having uncovered a an extremely well-worn 1903 Liberty Head nickel in adjust from McDonald’s a couple of weeks earlier, representing my oldest circulation uncover to date. Interestingly, it was at the same location where in 1995 I found the coin the tied because that my previous-oldest circulation find: a 1919 Lincoln cent. I thought there could be some an excellent coin vibes flowing about there, and it functions out well that my bank is simply next door. I’m lovin’ that!

I referred to as the bank to bespeak a box of nickels, and also within a week mine rolls were all set for pickup. Ns walked in, i was sure I’d it is in walking out through something spectacular. I acquired home, placed the box on mine dining room table, and also went come town.

What did I find in my Nickel Rolls?

Things got exciting when, ~ above my an initial roll, i uncovered a 1947 Jefferson nickel. “Surely that’s simply the begin of things,” ns quietly assured myself.

Then, roll after roll started coming increase dry. No pre-1960 Jeffersons. No Buffalos. Finally, around the 10th roll, ns came throughout two pre-1960 Jefferson nickels – both typical dates native the ’40s and also ’50s. However otherwise there was nothing of note rolling top top to my table.

Among every 50 rolls, i made the following pre-1960 finds:


Let me call you, according to this solitary box the nickels, it wasn’t 1993 anymore. I ultimately uncovered a lower frequency that pre-1960 Jefferson nickels than I competent in the mid-1990s. Just 19 the the coins dated prior to 1960, and also none to be from the ’30s. No one were there any type of war nickels. Or Buffalo nickels.

Perhaps the most an important find that the night? A CR 2032 watch battery, which sells for around $3 brand-new at the grocery store store. There were also about 20 brilliant Uncirculated Jefferson nickels dated prior to 2001, an arbitrarily cutoff date I set for myself in regards to which Uncirculated nickels i kept.

A 1984 Canadian nickel also popped up.

I kept a tally of every Jefferson nickels I uncovered ranging in day from 1960 v 1969. This 1960s nickels aren’t necessarily scarce in the numismatic sense (yet), and I quiet don’t go out of my means to keep them. Nevertheless, they seem come be transforming up with less regularity this days, most likely in big part as result of attrition from decades of heavy circulation.

Combining in one complete all mint marks because that each provided year, here’s what I uncovered for 1960s Jefferson nickels:


If you’re following along at home, you’ll realize that only 96 nickels the end of 2,000 were dated native the 1960s, representing just 4.8 percent of the whole box. The full percentage of all nickels in this crate dating before 1970 is only 5.75 percent. Again, I’m talking about pre-1970 nickels, not just pre-1960 nickels. So probably we collectors should broaden our horizons ~ above the variety of nickels we pull out of circulation. Perhaps, in a te or so, all nickels native the 1960s will certainly be more desirable to the average collector.

On that note, I discovered three 1970s nickels worn below a great of Fine. This stood the end to me during the roll search due to the fact that even in all at once color, these three coins indigenous the ’70s looked every bit like nickels from the ’40s and also ’50s.

I need to say, i felt substantially older for a moment.

Coming turn off my temporary lapse into premature sexagenarianism, I went back to my find for anything of keep in mind in this comparatively unexciting box of nickels. I shortly realized my most amazing keepers weren’t neighbors from the good White North, well-worn pieces dated prior to 1960 (or 1970), or also anything that had actually the capability to power my Swatch Watch.

My most stirring finds of the evening? two 2009-dated Jefferson nickels. 2009 is a day that has actually proven elusive in circulation for many collectors.

Why are 2009 Nickels therefore Scarce?

Only 39,840,000 business-strikes to be made in ~ the Philadelphia Mint in 2009 and 46,800,000 to be struck at the Denver Mint that very same year. Including those figures together, along with the 2,179,867 proofs the rolled out of the San Francisco Mint, and the all at once mintage for the 2009 nickel looks an ext like miscellaneous one can expect from the 1950s. In fact, the last time the Philadelphia Mint had actually struck fewer than 39.8 million business-strike nickels to be 50 years previously in 1959, once it created 27,248,000 pieces. The critical time the Denver Mint had made fewer than 46.8 million nickels was in 1952, as soon as the facility eked the end a fairly anemic 30,638,000 nickels (mintages traction from the 2017 Red Book).

The Great Recession, i beg your pardon technically lasted native December 2007 with June 2009, dampened the need for circulating coinage in the united States. But the recession didn’t just impact the production of business-strike nickels. Additionally seeing significantly lower mintages in 2009 to be the various other two higher-denomination, commonly circulating coins: dimes and also quarters. The Philadelphia Mint win a just 96.5 million dimes and also a accumulation 300.6 million quarters across all six District of Columbia and Territories designs, and the Denver Mint contributed just 49.5 million dimes and only 335.6 million quarters. In every cases, these were the lowest business-strike, year-over-year mintage figures for dimes and quarters in two generations.

And the helps to describe why the two 2009 Jefferson nickels i encountered throughout my roll search to be the an initial I’ve seen!

Summing Up mine Search

Having simply searched with a an in similar way disappointing box of half dollars a few weeks earlier, i was all set to throw in the roll-searching towel after this quite dull box of nickels. Then ns remembered the this is merely one that thousands upon hundreds of boxes of nickels out there wait to be searched through.

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I freshly made my first Liberty nickel find during a merely transaction in ~ McDonalds, and I’ve found a Buffalo nickel and a war nickel in continuous pocket change, too. Why not take one more look and also see what the next box the nickels lends?

As coin collectors, we discover that lot of the enjoyment that this understand isn’t discovered simply in gaining the coins we desire – it’s in looking for the coins us want. The thrill the the hunt is what keeps numerous of united state going. That’s the situation whether we’re searching for old Jefferson nickels, problem-free Seated Liberty dollars, or copper-nickel clad business-strike Eisenhower dollars grading Mint State-67 (which is certainly harder to find than you may think!).

At the finish of the day, I’m walking away from this box through a couple of new Jefferson nickels for my gradually growing build-up of scarce circulation finds. I’m pumped to tackle some more nickel roll soon. Besides, I’ve obtained a 1938-61 Jefferson nickel Whitman folder v a couple of holes come fill…

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For an ext roll searching adventures with Josh, inspect out his earlier entries in the series:

A $25 crate of Lincoln Cent rolfes | The $1,000 Kennedy half Dollar roll Search Challenge