Description and Analysis
Liberty Head Five Cents
1909 5C PF
Description & Analysis
The high mintage of proof nickels, nearly three times that of 1908, did not reflect a greater interest in this coin type. Instead, it was the result of the U. S. Mint issuing no less than three types of cents that year. These cents were not offered singly, but were instead sold in pairs with the nickel as a "minor proof set." To get the hot-ticket cents, one had to buy unwanted nickels, too.
In his reference A Guide Book of Shield and Liberty Head Nickels, Q. David Bowers asserted that this date is more rare than its published mintage suggests, speculating that many were either spent as useless or simply not distributed by the Mint. The NGC certified population, however, contradicts this notion, as the totals across several grades are much higher than for surrounding dates.
Perhaps because the Philadelphia Mint was compelled to strike so many 1909 proof nickels, their quality is a bit substandard. Like the example illustrated, many show less than full strikes in the stars and the corn ear at the lower left of the wreath. On the plus side, this date has a greater number of Cameo pieces than for the several years preceding.