Recently I saw some ungraded Jefferson nickels with full steps (one being a 1950-D) and I was wondering exactly which steps they take into consideration. Some of the coins look like they have 5-6 full steps in the middle, but I've seen some that, if you look at the right angle, there could be more. From this image, it appears that there are 6 full steps, but I've counted a couple of more steps on ones I've personally seen, making it as much as eight full steps. That sounds crazy, right? The crazy thing is, the grading companies seem to attribute only up to 6, which confuses me. Exactly which steps do they grade? Is it only the ones visible from angles like this? If so, we could possibly end up seeing nickels with an 8FS designation!

No. Pristine proof Jefferson nickels clearly show 6 full steps. There are no additional steps of any kind. If you see more than 6 then it is either damage, die deterioration or time to get new spectacles…imo…Spark I can’t remember who posted this chart, but he gets the credit!

Older Jefferson nickels are graded on 5 steps. Newer Jefferson nickels are graded on 6 for FS. What you are calling steps are the base and the stylobate. https://www.cointalk.com/threads/5-steps.411037/#post-25241154

That's an amazing picture! Now I'll better understand FS Jeffersons. Hopefully others can see this thread and learn from it as well. I've got just one question: do any 1969-S proofs show full steps?

From PCGS, Ron Guth: "The 1969-S Nickel is a common coin in Mint State, but usually appears in MS64 to MS65. MS66 examples are semi-scarce, a function of few submissions relative to the surviving population. The finest example certified by PCGS is a single MS67. Full Step 1969-S Nickels are virtually non-existent due to poor striking characteristics."

That makes me wonder why craftsmanship at the Mint has slowly declined. I mean, if the highest certified is a 67, with some Morgans being known up to MS69, there must be something going on. I myself am an owner of a MS66 1969-S, and can hereby say that the strike is quite weak.

First we have a business strike 69-S, then a proof. At best, two steps vs. 6 steps. I have two proofs and the steps are perfect on both.

That's quite awesome. I mean, I thought for sure that San Francisco was really stepping up the game by taking pride in how their proof sets are packaged. Maybe they should've put more effort into making some FS nickels. Of course, they may have been trying to cover themselves if they knew about the 1968 no S dime.

…I guess they didn’t pay too much attention because they repeated the mistake in 1970…a proof 1970 NO S as well…imo…Spark edited to add: …and then did it again in 1983.

And they did it again in 1990 with the penny. I guess they don't mind to make both fools and masters of themselves and their craft at the same time!

I agree now after looking. An angle can tell it all, though, especially when it comes to details. It could be the difference of a grade on a Bust half with edge lettering, or a coin with natural monster toning instead of artificial.

Thanks. Here’s my other 1969-S Proof. The steps really stand out due to the toning deep in the lines.