December 03, 2020 2 min read
United States 1975-D Jefferson Nickel
The Jefferson nickel debuted in 1938, replacing the Buffalo nickel in the 25th year of its production run. A design contest to commemorate Founding Father and third president of the United States Thomas Jefferson was held in 1937, open to “all American sculptors”. German émigré and American artist Felix Oscar Schlag was the winner. He received $1,000 for his effort.
Schlag’s concept for the obverse, which art scholar Cornelius Vermeule claimed was similar to Jean-Antoine Houdon’s 1789 bust of Jefferson, appeared essentially the same on the five-cent nickel for 66 years. His original reverse concept, however–featuring an innovative three-quarters perspective of Jefferson’s mansion Monticello–was rejected by the Treasury Department. Various changes were requested, the most significant of which was the flat, head-on portrayal of Monticello that is found on Jefferson nickels minted to this very day (though commemorative issues with different reverses have also been released). According to the rules of the 1937 design competition, Schlag received no additional compensation for this extra work.
The 1975 Jefferson nickel is the first year that the design was issued after the passing its designer, who died on March 9, 1974. The artist got to see his design circulate for the final 36 years of his life. It would go on to serve 30 more years before the United States Mint updated the design to reflect an aesthetic first employed by the Mint with the release of the Sacagawea dollar in 2000.
As for strike, many coin collectors are familiar with the notion of “Full Steps“. This refers to the sharpness and visibility of detail in regards to the steps in front of Monticello on the reverse. A grand total of six steps are rendered in the absolute best examples, while five full steps are still exceptional.
The original article and others like it can be found at https://coinweek.com/us-coins/united-states-1975-d-jefferson-nickel/ online