Quick history on Full Steps Jefferson NickelsThe Jefferson Nickel series is one of the most widely collected modern series to date. I would be safe to say it rivals the Lincoln cent series, but no where near the volume of mainstream collectors. There is however, a tight knit group of variety experts in this series called the "Full Steppers". Jefferson enthusiasts whose primary objective is to seek out the most pristine 1938-current nickels with the highly acclaimed "Full Steps" designation, are some of the most dedicated bunch in numismatics. To date, the 1980's-2010's ranges of Jefferson nickels are the easiest to find with full and robust 6 steps on the reverse Monticello image. So finding them isn't hard at all, what does pose a challenge is finding a full stepped modern strike in anything higher than a 68 grade, damn near perfection! Make sure those examples are "ding" free with clear fields and sharp contrast devices.
One especially challenging decade of full step Jeffersons is the 1960's. A quick look at the PCGS or NGC populations will illustrate just how difficult it is to find truly sharp struck full step nickels. It was just a weak decade for die maintenance at the mint, which attributes to the tough task of locating even a 5 step variety. So here's my challenge to all you cherrypickers out there, locate an amazing 1960's full stepper. Sharply struck examples fetch over five figures for a graded example!
As you treasure hunt the full steps...
Check out online auctions, buy full boxes of nickels at the bank, and cherrypick out of dealer stock, those will be your best bets in locating one. Arm yourself with a magnifier with at least 10x power, 20x is best. And try to stay away from full steppers with any nicks or dents that break up the stair lines, these won't grade with the "FS" designation.
Keep in mind, to most coin collectors and even everyday people, the Jefferson nickel can be a boring series for them. The upside is that there are tons of nickels to pick through, this would be a great time to start cherrypicking for those rare full step dates. Are you up to the challenge?
Good luck hunting!
Good luck hunting!