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Fabulous MS64 1916 Doubled Die Nickel

1916 5C Doubled Die Obverse MS64 PCGS. FS-101, formerly FS-016. A Guide Book variety. So far, 2009 has proved a boon for the dedicated Buffalo nickel collector operating at the highest tiers of grade and rarity. Our January 2009 FUN Auction saw no less than four top-flight examples of the 1916 Doubled Die Obverse nickel come up on the block: a pair of AU55 coins, an MS62 survivor, and one of the two MS64 representatives tied for the finest certified by PCGS (3/09). Now, at the 2009 Central States Auction, the other PCGS-graded MS64 piece is available, offering bidders a second chance to own one of the most dramatic 20th century doubled dies in what has often seemed an unattainable grade.
In his Item of the Week column published in the March 15, 2005 edition of Numismatic News, Paul M. Green described the 1916 Doubled Die nickel "as perhaps the greatest and least known rarity of the 20th century. It is ironic, because the logical assumption would be that any coin of the 20th century is well known and appreciated."
To a greater extent now than then, the 1916 Doubled Die variant is appreciated, but only through the prism of decades of lost survivors. As many writers on the Buffalo nickel series have noted, the variety went essentially unrecognized until the early 1960s, and by that time, Buffalo nickels of all dates had passed from circulation after decades of the Jefferson design. The 1916-dated nickels of all varieties were used extensively in commerce, with relatively few examples saved for posterity. Is it any wonder that the 1916 Doubled Die nickel, which must have represented a tiny fraction of the issue, is most often encountered in heavily circulated grades, with even lightly worn pieces jockeying for position in the Condition Census? Paul Green's image of hundreds or even thousands of 1916 Doubled Die nickels passing from hand to hand, their high-relief dates wearing to oblivion, is thought-provoking indeed.
When Heritage last offered the present piece at our September 2005 Long Beach Auction, its technical and aesthetic virtues were described as follows: "Given the rarity of this error nickel in Mint State, the attractive example that we highlight here should be of obvious importance to advanced Buffalo nickel collectors. The surfaces have been carefully preserved with a colorful endowment of greenish-gray patina over both sides. This deepens to antique-gold and crimson near the peripheral areas. We have no complaints about the sharp striking quality, save for a small amount of detail at the central regions. The boldly doubled digits in the date are readily evident to the naked eye. The fields and devices are smooth enough to warrant consideration even at the MS65 grade level, but accuracy compels us to mention a single ... spot on the obverse just before the Indian's chin. [This last] feature notwithstanding, we unhesitatingly declare this coin as one of the finest known survivors of this rare and popular 20th century error." Having examined the coin carefully, the present cataloger sees little else to add, save for an admonition to bid strongly--who knows when such an opportunity will come again?
From The Joseph C. Thomas Collection.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 2TSS, PCGS# 3931)

View all of [The Joseph C. Thomas Collection, Part Two ]

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Auction Dates
Apr-May, 2009
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 12
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