In 1896, the statutory limit for the life of the Liberty Nickel had not yet expired nor was it due to expire until 1908. So, why was a new design tested in 1896? In actuality, the 1896 Pattern Nickels were made to test a variety of different alloys as possible replacements for the 75% copper/25% Nickel combination then in use. Judd-1772 contains mostly aluminum, which was found to be too soft and not durable enough for circulating coins. Supposedly, ten examples were struck in fifteen different alloys, but this report is contradicted by the hundreds of pieces that were sold out of William Woodin's estate after 1934. In addition, the PCGS Population Report lists 16 examples (as of November 2013), so it is likely that many more exist which have not yet been graded.
Many J-1772 pattern coins show corrosion from poor storage. None have been graded above PCGS PR64.