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The 1971 No-S Proof Nickel

By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez - September 30, 2021

Jefferson Nickels often aren’t top of mind when thinking about great modern rarities among United States coins, but there’s at least one Jefferson Nickel that does deserve some extra attention, and that’s the 1971 No-S Proof. It was one of several no-S mintmark error varieties that rolled off the presses in during the first dozen or so years of regular annual proof coin production at the San Francisco Mint and includes a parade of no-S mintmark proof dimes from 1968, 1970, 1975, and 1983; the 1990 no-S Lincoln Cent followed many years later near the end of the era during which mintmarks were hand-punched onto proof dies – the manual procedure that led to the erroneous omission of the S mintmark on the 1971 Proof Nickel.

Jefferson Nickel, 1971 5C No S, PCGS PR68. Click image to enlarge.

The 1971 No-S Jefferson Nickel derived from just one die that lacked an S mintmark and was reportedly discovered in a proof set on December 29, 1971. Numismatic experts inquired further, and the United States Mint confirmed that the coin was indeed authentic. Making the 1971 No-S Jefferson Nickel somewhat unusual among no-mintmark varieties is the fact that there’s a documented mintage of how many were made. The U.S. Mint stated that 1,655 were produced – a precise, concrete figure that is unfortunately lacking for so many other modern-day mintmark varieties. Incidentally, this is the only Jefferson Nickel issue absent a mintmark it should have fielded.

Jefferson Nickel, 1971 5C No S, OBVERSE COMPARISON. Click image to enlarge.

As proof coins weren’t distributed by the United States Mint into channels of commerce, those searching for these error varieties need to turn their sights another direction besides circulation. Collectors have a legitimate opportunity to find 1971 No-S Jefferson Nickels in unsearched 1971 Proof Sets, many of which could be sitting forgotten right now in dealers’ inventories as well as closets, basements, and attics around the country.

The 1971 No-S Jefferson Nickel is an extremely rare and sought-after coin, with a base price of around $800 for a PR63 specimen with no cameo frosting on the lettering, devices, and other areas of relief. Bear in mind, deep cameo features would not become the norm for United States proof coins until the late-1970s and early 1980s. Ergo, cameos are more the exception than they are the rule for Jefferson Nickels of the early ‘70s. For an example in PR68, the collector should expect to pay around $1,100, just a little less than the price of a specimen grading PR68CAM. In PR68DCAM the price increases to $2,850. The record price for any 1971 No-S Proof Jefferson Nickel was realized in a 2016 Heritage Auctions sale, when a PCGS PR69DCAM specimen took $7,637.50.


  • Breen, Walter. Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins. Doubleday, 1988.

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