1937-D Three-Legged Nickel, MS66
1937-D 5C Three-Legged, FS-901, MS66 PCGS Gold Shield. Q.
David Bowers calls the 1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo an "interesting
variety" in A Guide Book of Buffalo and Jefferson Nickels,
adding the following comments:
Pastel Iridescence, FS-901
Among the Nicest Coins We Have Seen
"In the 1950s, nearly all coins in the marketplace were in grades such as Very Fine and Extremely Fine. Coins graded About Uncirculated were rare, even though in the late 1950s Aubrey and Adeline Bebee reported having nearly two dozen Mint State coins. Many hundreds of Mint State coins exist today. I have no idea where all of these coins came from, but it certainly was a surprise when they first appeared in quantity. Perhaps a bunch of rolls turned up that included examples from this particular die. The typical Mint State coin is attractive, with a satiny or slightly grainy luster."
It is true that many Mint State examples exist and are available -- for a price, one that is well-supported by a seemingly insatiable public demand for one of the most popular varieties in any coin series. Rather than a "bunch of rolls" turning up, it is perhaps equally likely that the variety coins were widely scattered in and among the non-variety coins before they left the Denver Mint in 1937, waiting to be discovered piecemeal as fresh rolls were opened up over time.
The mintage of the 1937-D Buffalo nickels was 17.8 million coins, and we know that all of the Three-Leggeds were produced from a single die pair. If one assumes that each working die struck an average of 300,000 coins, there would have been about 60 dies each for the obverse and reverse to produce the total run. But we also know that this particular die was repolished after it clashed, so it may have been that only 100,000 Three-Leggeds were produced after the dies were resurfaced, one-third of the normal total for each die pair. In other words, perhaps only 1 in 180 coins made was of the Three-Legged variety, which would yield a total of 99,000 examples originally made. As NGC and PCGS combined have certified more than 10,000 specimens in all grades (barring duplicates) -- most of which are Fine to AU -- our estimate may not be far off the mark. That may seem like a lot of coins until one considers that the 1937-D Three-Legged is one of the few collector coins that has become a pop culture icon, a variety that is well-known even among non-collectors.
This Registry-grade Premium Gem is one of the prettiest examples we have ever handled, and it ranks among the finest coins certified by PCGS. Satiny surfaces are impeccably preserved. Peach-gold iridescence over the centers merges with violet and blue color toward the rims. This really is an amazing representative of one of the most famous 20th century varieties. (NGC ID# 22SX, Variety PCGS# 38475, Base PCGS# 3982)
Weight: 5.00 grams
Metal: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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