by Peter J. Miksich, Jr., a Buffalo Nickel Devotee
The United States Mint in America suffered along with the population during the Great Depression (1929-1933). A major portion of its’ workforce was slowly and methodically laid off as a result of the lack of the need for coinage. Each painful year, each depressing week, the furloughs went out. So did the employees. A lot went out and never came back. They and their families faded into the huge cauldron of despair that gripped the Nation back then. Penniless, hungry, luckless multitudes left to anywhere and everywhere to find work. The dies and tools of their trade sat unused at workstations all over the Nation. Some just plain disappeared.
Coins sat in vaults, unused, piled up in bags and bins until slowly, methodically, the orders began to pick up. Although the Nation was never really fully recovered until World War II began in 1941, by 1934 the worst was over.
When the Mint tried to call back laid-off employees, it stands to reason that a percentage of them could not be reached for the reasons cited above. New and untrained workers tried to fill the void.
The coinage quality of the early to mid 1930’s shows the problem that the Mint had during this period. The die steel used to strike coins was better by leaps and bounds than at any time prior to 1928. Care had been taken to properly harden dies before use, and experimentation with chromium-plated dies was found to be a success in prolonging die life.
But the coins suffered in other areas. Poor planchet stock, hurried production and coining, and striking pressure still produced lower than average quality specimens.
Note also the huge jump in re-punched mintmarks during this period. Clearly it was a skilled and practiced talent to be able to hold the mintmark puncheon in the same position between hammer hits.
The chaos of the time produced a rather quite notable doubled die in 1935 — the 1935-P Doubled Die Reverse Buffalo Nickel.
The 1935 DDR was given a Cherrypicker’s Guide number – FS-018, and has an even more pronounced doubling that the popular 1917-P (DDR-1, FS-016.4), which was described as “prominent” by David Lange in his Buffalo Nickel book.
I would not hesitate to call it the most prominent reverse doubled-die in the Buffalo Series.
This one is collectable, though its’ popularity is rising and so is its’ price. I tried and failed to acquire one a couple years ago that I found on E-Bay. It was a F-12 coin, and I thought my max (high at the time) bid of $50.00 would secure it.
I was wrong, and I’ll let the art of E-Bay “Sniping” live for a future story.
The reason that this DDR is becoming so desirable stems from the recent addition of it to price guides and references to it hobby-wide. It is poised for future jumps in price and demand from collectors everywhere.
The run of the mill 1935-P Buffalo Nickel is common in every grade up to and including MS-65. Its rarity rating is R-1 (the lowest) for every grade up to 64, and only an R-2 in 65. The population reports for the DDR attest to its rarity, though. Very few have been submitted in mint state. Most submitted center around Fine to Very Fine.
This leads me to believe that this coin was not found till later. It also leads me to the conclusion that the DDR my have been discovered during production, and the die pulled. With the relative ease of finding mint state examples of 1935-P regular strikes, THIS ONE is just darn RARE to locate.
Here is the scoop on POPs (incomplete)
PCGS: 5 MS-64 – nothing higher
NGC: VG: 3, F: 13, XF-40: 5, XF-45: 3, AU-50: 1, AU-53: 4, AU-55: 5, AU-58: 6, MS-62: 2, MS-64: 1. TOTAL: 59
So there are only 6 coins at MS-64 – none higher.
Coinuniverse lists the current price for this coin as:
G – $40.00 F – $100.00 EF – $750.00 AU – $1500.00 MS60 – $3500.00 MS-63 – $10,000.00 MS-64 – $18,500.00 MS-65 – $35.000.00*
*The only Buffs higher in 65 are the following: (why a 65 price is listed for 35-DDR is unknown, none got that high in POPS):
1914/3 1916 DDO 1918/7-D 1918-S 1920-S 1925-S 1926-S
The 1937-D 3-leg in 65 goes for $32,500.00. A $2,500.00 less bargain.
Keep hunting, you might just find a cornucopia of riches among the un-searched and un-noticed survivors.