Split Planchet Jefferson Nickels
By. Jon P. Sullivan
About a year and a half ago, I purchased a group of 3 split planchet Jefferson nickels from an error collection, which was being auctioned by Heritage Auctions. The coins came from one of the nicest Jefferson nickel collections ever assembled, and these coins were part of the set because of the coins having the very scarce combination of a split planchet in conjunction with other errors.
Split planchet errors occur when impurities trapped in the metal cause the planchet to split apart. The split occurs because the metal did not adhere together properly due to the impurities creating a very weak bonding of the metals. Nickel is a difficult metal to alloy with other metals; because of this, split planchets are commonly found in the nickel 5c coin series, due to their being struck on a 25% nickel/75% copper-alloy planchet. Although split planchets are common on 5c coins, they are very scarce in combination with other error types.
A split can occur either before or after the coin is struck. The descriptive terms “split before strike” or “split after strike” are used to distinguish the respective types. A “split before strike” will show design on both sides of the coin, and will also be weakly struck. However, a “split after strike” will show a normal strike on one side, but will have a rough, design-free surface on the other side.
1941 Jefferson nickel split planchet after strike. This coin is attributable as a split before strike because the coin is struck on both sides, and also because one side (the reverse) has the rough, split-texture, and the other side has a smooth surface.
This is a split before strike 1941 Jefferson nickel, which was struck in-collar, and has no other errors besides the split planchet. The smooth side is on the obverse, and the rough side is on the reverse. All split planchet errors have one smooth side, and one very rough side. Obviously, the rough side is the side where the split occurred. Note the “split side” on the different coins throughout this article, how the roughness varies from coin to coin, with some being very smooth and some being more granular and rougher in appearance. These varying patterns of roughness are possibly due to the different types of impurities which caused the coins to split apart, although this is purely speculation on my part. Some possible types of impurities include oils or greases, dirt, metal debris, or gases trapped in the metal during the ingot and planchet strip creation proces
Jefferson nickel split planchet before strike, broadstruck out of collar, and with a 20% obverse indent
A rare combination, this Jefferson nickel is broadstruck on a split planchet, and has a 20% indent on its obverse. Additional eye-appeal is added to the coin, due to its exhibiting the split or “rough side” on the obverse, which is nice, since the obverse is the most appreciated side of any coin. The coin may not appear to be a broadstrike at first glance, but if you look around the outer lettering, especially on the reverse, you can see how much larger the coin’s diameter is than normal.
Jefferson nickel struck 70% off-center on a split planchet before strike. A very eye-catching and dramatic error.
This Jefferson nickel is struck 70% off-center on a split planchet. Off-centers are the most common (if any of them could be called common) type of combo-error found on a split planchet nickel. As with the previous coin, this coin shows the split-side on the obverse, giving the coin extra eye-appeal, and therefore increasing its value to collectors.
Jefferson nickel saddle-strike on split planchet before strike. A very rare combination of the two error types.
A very rare combination, this Jefferson nickel is saddle-struck on a split planchet. It can be attributed as a saddle-strike because there is a slight “hump” between the strikes; also the orientation of the dies, with the tops of the heads facing each other, all prove that it is a saddle-strike, and not just a double-strike (although a double-strike would also be nice!).
All of these combination errors can be found on most other denominations of coins as well, although they are the most frequently found on wheat cents, Lincoln Memorial cents, Jefferson nickels, and slightly less often, on buffalo nickels.