In early 1938 the Commission of Fine Arts announced an open competition to design a new nickel with the likeness of Thomas Jefferson. There were 390 artists who answered the call and submitted designs, some of them well known, some of them relatively unknown. I am sure that it didn’t hurt that in the midst of the Great Depression that there was a $1,000 prize for the winning design.
Amongst the aforementioned 390 artists, it was Felix Schlag’s design that was accepted. As is common practice then, and now, artists found way to further capitalize on their new found fame. With that in mind, Mr. Schlag acquired 150 Proof versions of new nickel from the mint and had them framed so as to sell them to the public.
In frames measuring approximately 9×11, Mr. Schlag signed the mat-board and had them notarized on September 20th, 1939, nearly one year after issue. The inside reads as follows:
“FIRST PRIZE WINNER AMONG 390 COMPETING ARTISTS IN THE NATIONAL COMPETITION FOR A NEW FIVE CENT COIN, APRIL 20,1938 (SIGNED) ‘FELIX SCHLAG’ SCULPTOR”
PROOF JEFFERSON NICKEL 1938
UPON REQUEST FELIX SCHLAG-DESIGNER OF THIS COIN HAS CONSENTED TO SIGN 150 PROOF JEFFERSON NICKELS-OF WHICH THE COIN ABOVE IS NUMBER __-SWORN TO BEFORE ME THIS 29TH DAY OF SETPEMB. A.D. 1939
At Numismatic Americana Incorporated we have bought and sold many of the available 150 pieces over the years, including the number 1 specimen. These are great items for the collector of American history, Jefferson nickels, or just someone looking for a nice piece to hang in their den. We are proud to offer the following pieces for your consideration.