Staircase sent me a nickel and I have looked it over in detail. It is just a tad light, it has the "odd strike" noted in the thread throughout and it has a strange finish, heavily cartwheeled and a lack of mirror finishing on the planchet almost as if the die were not polished. Much more obvious on the reverse, but true on the obverse as well.
Where the coin is giving up it's secrets is on the third face, it's starting to peel and underneath the nickel layer is... another layer of nickel. It SHOULD be a layer of copper. This coin and I believe that coins like it are missing their copper plating step and have been directly nickel plated over their nickel flash coat and have potentially missed their cleaning bath as well (I suspect this to be true or it wouldn't be peeling, nickel sticks to nickel VERY well).
The copper plating is what's mostly responsible for the final shiny finishing of the five cent piece and other coins. It's also responsible for adding a layer of softness for the strike to take hold. You can polish a die all day but if the planchet is rough it's going to give up a sort of frosted finish and have huge cartwheel luster because there's only a very thin layer of nickel to move around.
Thank you to Staircase for handing over this sample... it's one of those instances where everything is so obvious once seen in hand.