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Rare Nickel Found!!

In 1961, Mr. Ken Frith got his hands on a very unique rare nickel. I am talking about a one-of-a-kind rarest of rare kind of nickel.

This 1942 Jefferson Nickel was found in circulation by someone who then brought it to Mr. Frith's attention, knowing that he specialized in error coins.

What is so special about this nickel?

Well, up until World War II, Jefferson Nickels were made out of 75% copper and 25% nickel. During the war, however, nickel was scarce due to the fact that it was being used heavily in the war effort.

So beginning in October of 1942, the composition was changed to 56% copper, 35% silver and 9% manganese.

(click to enlarge)
1943 P Wartime Nickel
1943 P Wartime Nickel

To distinguish these silver nickels from the earlier copper/nickel variety, the mint mark was moved from the right of Monticello to above the dome of Monticello. It was also made quite a bit larger during this time.

U.S. Mint records show that all 1942-S Jefferson Nickels were "War Time" nickels with the "S" mint mark above the dome of Monticello and were of the copper/silver/manganese composition.

Mr. Frith's rare nickel however, is dated 1942 but it has a small "S" mint mark to the right of Monticello, and is made of the pre-war copper/nickel composition.

(click to enlarge)
1942-S Rare Nickel
with Reverse of 1941

1942-S Rare Nickel with Reverse of 1941

Here is what the Mint records show:

  • Type 1 - This is the pre-war copper/nickel type

    • 1942 (Philadelphia - no mint mark) - 49,818,600
    • 1942-D (for Denver, with the "D" to the right of Monticello) - 13,938,000

  • Type 2 - This is the war-time copper/silver/manganese type

    • 1942-P - 57,900,600
    • 1942-S - 32,900,000 (THIS HAD THE LARGE "S" ABOVE THE DOME)

How could this have happened?

When a coin is struck at the mint, it has a reverse dieDie
Metal piece engraved with the design used for stamping the coin.
and an obverse (front) die. Apparently the obverse die was changed out for the new one dated 1942.

Then, for some reason, a mint employee decided to try it out with some leftover planchetsPlanchet
Blank prepared piece of metal on which the coin is struck.
from 1941 that were the copper/nickel type.

When the new copper/silver/manganese planchets arrived, they apparently then changed out the die for the reverse of the coin to one that had the "S" mint mark above the dome of Monticello.

Nobody knows who did this or why it was done. For that matter, nobody knows how many of these coins may have been struck.

At this time, the rare nickel discovered by Mr. Ken Frith is the only one known to exist.

Below are copies of the actual correspondence from experts who examined and authenticated the coin.

(Sent to me by Mr. Frith with written permission to use them on this site.)

Michael Kolman letter

Letter from Mr. Michael Kolman to Mr. Frith dated June 22, 1963

Don Taxay letter

Above is a letter from Mr. Don Taxay to Mr. Frith dated April 16, 1964 and just below is a copy of a page from Mr. Taxay's book listing the rare nickel as unique.

catalog listing

Auction Catalog Listing

Auction catalog listing of the coin by Schulman Coin and Mint, Inc. The rare nickel was auctioned on June 29, 1973 in New York City and sold for $1,850.

New York Times Article - 1942 rare nickel found

This is an excerpt from a New York Times article describing the discovery of this rare nickel.

Here is an excerpt from an email I received from Mr. Frith:

Last year a gentleman saw my ebay name, Ken_Frith, and I had a few coins on the auction. He had just read Walter Breen's Encyclopedia on errors (Which I have not seen either) he said and saw my name as the founder of this coin and wondered if it was me. I told him about finding/obtaining it and he later said he had seen it at the Baltimore Show last year and the owner (who I don't know who is) had it priced at about $175,000.00.

Mr. Frith has found other rare and valuable coins and other rare items during his lifetime, including a rare U.S. $50 bill, one of only five known to exist. He writes:

I had a fantastic collection of errors that was stolen in 1966. I had won many awards at coin shows on them, which including a 1943 nickel struck on a 1943 steel cent planchet. A 1867 Indian Head cent BU, off center rotated double struck with head and both dates showing.

Here is another excerpt from our correspondence:

Rare items still exist and can be found! This is a reminder that rare things can still be found and are out there if you look and search..........All of these items have been sold......(now, many times I do wish that I had not sold them)

p.s. Don't have an eBay Store, but have my ebay site [ken_frith]

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