USA Coin Album: The US Mint Coins Dated 1964 — Part 3

Posted on 11/12/2019

The nickels and dimes of 1964.

Like the 1964-dated cents covered in last month's column, the nickels bearing that date were coined for an extended period of time, lasting through 1965. Popular catalogs list a total of 1,024,672,000 1964-dated nickels produced at the Philadelphia Mint, yet only about a third were actually coined during that year. Due to the date freeze then in effect, some 683,708,000 additional 1964(P) five-cent pieces were minted during 1965. This is an extremely common issue in Mint State condition, with thousands of rolls having been set aside by speculators at the time.

The collapse of the speculative market in Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) rolls later in 1964 prompted some of these hoarders to dump their stashes into circulation as profits failed to materialize. About 25 years ago, I purchased several BU rolls of nickels from the early 1960s at a coin club meeting for just $2.50 per roll, proof that the rolls had actually lost value to inflation.

1964 5C MS
Click images to enlarge.

Despite being immensely common, 1964(P) nickels are rare in high grades, a legacy of the poor quality control that was so typical of the US Mints during the nationwide coin shortage at that time. Indeed, NGC has certified only 17 examples as MS 67 and none finer. Of these pieces, five were further distinguished with the descriptor 5FS (Five Full Steps). This indicates that five of the steps leading up to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home depicted on the reverse, were complete on those specimens.

No 1964(P) nickels have yet achieved the highly sought 6FS label applied to coins with all six steps fully struck. The rarity of this condition is typical of nickels coined during the 1960s, with specialists paying big premiums for fully struck examples. Despite such a high mintage, varieties for this issue are few in number and quite minor.

The date freeze did not apply to proof coins, and the 1964-dated proof examples were all coined during that year. Nearly four million such pieces were produced, and NGC has certified a few thousand as PF 69 and none higher. While comprising just a minority of that total, proofs also displaying Cameo or Ultra Cameo contrast between brilliant fields and frosted devices are readily collectable.

Minor doubled-die varieties are fairly plentiful for proof coins of the period, yet all are too minor to attract much interest. One exception is 1964 FS-801, a tripled-die-reverse (TDR) that is appealing when found on coins struck from fresh dies.

1964 5C PF
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The Specimen (SP) nickels of this date are similar in character and background to the cents described last month. A mere five examples have been certified by NGC, the finest being three pieces graded SP 67.

1964 5C SP
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The Denver Mint coined an amazing total of nearly two billion 1964-D nickels, but these were likewise struck during two calendar years. Only 455,821,840 had been produced by the end of 1964, with the remaining 1,331,475,320 actually minted the following year.

Still seen in circulation today, 1964-D nickels were even more poorly made than their Philly cousins. NGC has certified a mere 12 pieces as MS 67 and none higher. Just two of those gems display 5FS, while there are no examples having the 6FS designation. Some six pieces have been certified as Prooflike (PL), these ranging from MS 64 to MS 66. Several repunched mintmark (RPM) varieties are known, and the better ones are attributed by NGC under its VarietyPlus® service.

1964-D 5C
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The final issue of silver dimes for circulation was dated 1964, and its production lasted into early 1966. Philadelphia coined 238,770,000 dimes during 1964, with another 690,590,000 following in 1965. The Denver Mint totals for 1964-D dimes were 572,154,430 during 1964, 617,457,120 the following year and a supplemental 167,905,630 in the opening months of 1966.

The US Mint's overall goal was to keep the silver coins plentiful long enough for the copper-nickel-clad issues to take their place. The first clad dimes were dated 1965 and didn't appear in circulation until January of 1966. The minting of silver dimes ended shortly thereafter.

1964 10C
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Only minor varieties are known for 1964 and 1964-D dimes, though it should be noted that two obverse hubs were employed to create dies for both mints. The first hub has a rounded (or pointed) tail to numeral 9, while the second has the tail cut off with a blunt end. There's not enough difference in rarity for the circulating editions of either mint to carry a premium, but the Pointed 9 proof dimes are moderately scarce and sought by specialists.

1964-D 10C
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1964(P) dimes are plentiful in gem condition, with NGC having graded 275 examples as MS 67, as well as a lone MS 68. At the MS 67 level, only 42 pieces have been certified as possessing the desirable Full Torch (FT) qualifier, meaning that all lines of the Freedom Torch are distinct. The numbers are quite similar for 1964-D dimes: NGC has graded 261 as MS 67 and only 37 as MS 67 FT. A lone MS 68 FT is the finest certified.

The 1964(P) proof dimes are readily available in all grades shy of PF 70, for which none have been certified. Some 274 have been certified as PF 69 Ultra Cameo, the best of the best. As for the mysterious 1964(P) specimen dimes, only a single entry is found in the NGC Census, this coin grading SP 67.

1964 10C PF
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Close Up 1964 10C PF
Left: Pointed 9; Right: Blunt 9
Click images to enlarge.

Come back next month for a review of the 1964-dated quarters and halves.

David W. Lange's column, “USA Coin Album,” appears monthly in The Numismatist, the official publication of the American Numismatic Association.

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