Have you ever stopped to think about the value of a nickel? It’s one of the smallest and most commonly overlooked coins in circulation, yet it holds a surprising amount of worth. In this post, we’ll explore the fascinating world of nickels, uncovering the history, value, and potential of this tiny but mighty coin.
From rare and valuable nickels to tips for collecting and selling, we’ll show you how to make the most of your pocket change and turn your nickels into cash. So, whether you’re a casual collector or just curious about the value of your loose change, read on to discover why nickels are worth more than you might think.
- The mint state of a nickel determines its value directly. Coins in high-mint states fetch premium prices, while low-mint states fetch lower profits.
- With only slight variations in early coins, four basic nickel designs include Shield, Liberty, Buffalo, and Jefferson.
- Nickels worth money can be found in many years, including 1880, 1885, 1919, 1920, 1926, 1927, 1936, 1937, 1942, and 1964.
Related: 1937 Buffalo Nickel Value in 2023
Table of Contents
- 1 Origin of Nickels in America
- 2 Evolution of Nickels
- 3 Historical Significance of Nickels
- 4 Factors That Affect the Value of Nickels
- 5 How to Identify Valuable Nickels
- 6 Where to Buy and Sell Valuable Nickels
- 7 What Nickels Are Worth Money by Year?
- 8 Is 1964 Nickel Worth Anything?
- 9 1964 Nickels Worth Money
- 10 2005 Nickels Worth Money
- 11 Dimes and Nickels Worth Money
- 12 What Are the 25 Most Valuable Nickels?
- 13 Nickel Value Chart
- 14 1940 Nickels Worth Money
- 15 1980s Nickels Worth Money
- 16 Conclusion
Origin of Nickels in America
The nickel is a five-cent coin minted by the United States Mint. In 1866, the first nickel mint composition included copper-nickel alloys. The word “nickel” actually comes from the German word “kupfernickel,” which means “false copper.” This is because kupfernickel is an ore that looks like copper but contains no real copper.
In 1883, the composition of the nickel was changed to cupro-nickel and has remained that way since. The cupro-nickel alloy consists of 75% copper and 25% nickel. They changed because the original alloy was too soft and easily damaged.
The image on the front of the nickel has changed several times over the years. It currently features a portrait of President Thomas Jefferson. On the back is an image of Monticello, Jefferson’s home.
Nickels production has occurred at all four US Mint locations, including Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point. In 2018, over one billion nickels were produced.
Related: What Quarters Are Worth Money? List of Rare Quarters
Evolution of Nickels
The United States nickel is a coin that has undergone many changes since its production in 1866. The original design featured the Liberty Head on one side and the Roman numeral V on the other. This was changed in 1883 to the Liberty Head, with the words “In God We Trust” on one side and the date on the other.
In 1913, the design was changed again to feature a portrait of Thomas Jefferson on one side and Monticello on the other.
This design remained unchanged until 1938, when the portrait of Jefferson was replaced with a portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 2004, the design was changed again to feature a portrait of President Jefferson on one side and the Lewis and Clark expedition on the other.
Related: Dimes Worth Money – The Small Coins with Big Value
Historical Significance of Nickels
We can trace the significance of the nickle back to their use in the Civil War. The Union government needed a way to finance the war effort and turned to taxation. Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1862, which imposed a 3% tax on incomes over $600. This tax was very unpopular with the public and led to widespread evasion. To increase compliance, Congress authorized the production of bronze 1-cent and 2-cent coins and copper-nickel 5-cent coins (the latter became known as “nickels”).
The new 5-cent coins were initially met with resistance, as people were unfamiliar with the metal composition and feared counterfeiting. However, the coins quickly gained acceptance and began circulating widely. They proved to be an essential source of revenue for the Union government during the war.
After the war, nickels continued to circulate as regular currency. In 1883, they updated the design to feature Lady Liberty on the obverse and a Roman numeral “V” on the reverse (denoting its value of 5 cents).
Related: 2005 Buffalo Nickel Value
Factors That Affect the Value of Nickels
The mint state of a nickel determines its value directly. High-mint states fetch premium prices, while low-mint states fetch lower profits.
The value of a nickel depends on several factors, including mintage. A nickel with a low mintage will be more valuable than one with a high mintage. This is because fewer low-mintage coins exist, making them rarer and more practical.
In addition to broad striking, double die, and overstruck errors, nickels with many errors are more valuable because they are scarce.
The value of nickels has been affected by changes in demand over time. When the economy is doing well and people have more money to spend, the demand for nickels increases, and their value increases.
On the other hand, during economic downturns or periods of inflation, people tend to hoard nickels, and their value decreases. In recent years, the value of nickels has fluctuated along with the overall economy.
Provenance is a critical factor in determining the value of any nickel. While there are different types of nickels, the most valuable ones are those with solid provenance. You can trace a coin with a strong provenance back to its origins, which gives collectors and dealers a better idea of its value.
Coins with a weak or no provenance are often worth less than those with a strong provenance. This is because it is difficult to determine the value of a coin without knowing its history.
Related: 1936 Buffalo Nickel: History, Value, and Rarity
How to Identify Valuable Nickels
To the casual observer, a nickel may not look like it could be worth very much. But nickels can be pretty valuable to coin collectors and investors, depending on the type and condition. Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) will assist in preparing the price guide for valuable nickels. These services will also provide reference materials and price guides for various nickels.
Where to Buy and Sell Valuable Nickels
If you’re looking for a place to buy or sell valuable nickels, your best bet is to find a reputable coin dealer. Coin dealers know the coin market and can help you get the best coin price. When selling coins, bring any documentation about the coin’s history or provenance. This will help the dealer determine its value. If you’re buying coins, ask the dealer about any guarantee they offer. A reputable dealer will stand behind their coins and offer a satisfaction guarantee.
Auctions provide an excellent platform for buyers and sellers to come together and transact business, and there are usually plenty of valuable nickels on offer. When buying at an auction, it’s important to research beforehand to know what you’re willing to pay for a particular coin. It’s also wise to have a budget in mind so you don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment and overspend.
There are a few online marketplaces where you can buy and sell valuable nickels. The most popular ones are eBay and Craigslist. Another great option is the Heritage Auctions website. You can also find other websites specializing in buying and selling coins and currency.
Related: 1952 D Wheat Penny – Full Guide
What Nickels Are Worth Money by Year?
The value of a nickel changes depending on the year. The older the nickel, the more it is worth. For example, a nickel from 1913 is worth about $4.50, while a nickel from 2020 is only worth about $0.05. This is because there are so few 1913 nickels in existence today. The value of nickel also depends on its condition. A well-worn nickel from 1913 is worth less than a new nickel from 2020.
Here is a table showing the value of nickel over the years:
|Later Jefferson||1965 to present||Face value to $120|
|Early Jefferson||1938 to 1964||Face value to $300|
|Buffalo(Indian Head)||1913 to 1938||Face value to $125,000|
|Liberty head or V||1900 to 1913||$2.50 to $3,400|
|Shield||1866 to 1883||$16 to $9,900|
Is 1964 Nickel Worth Anything?
A 1964 nickel is worth approximately 5 cents on today’s market, but if it’s rare, uncirculated, or in mint condition, it can be worth up to $225–275. It can be worth $8,750 in MS65 if the nickel is extremely rare, such as the 1964 SMS variant.
1964 Nickels Worth Money
The NGC Price Guide, as of February 2023, a free tool made available by NGC, states that Mint State 1964 Jefferson Nickels can fetch anywhere from 15 cents to $500, while proof coins typically fetch higher prices. Values for nickels with 5FS or 6FS range from $20 to $15,000.
2005 Nickels Worth Money
The majority of nickels are worth between $0.05 and $1. However, some high-quality examples cost around $35. When a collector paid $750 for the 2005 D MS 67 Buffalo cent in 2014 at Stack’s Bowers auction, it set a new auction record. Yet, in 2021, $2,650 was paid for a single 2005 D MS 66 Speared Bison on eBay.
Dimes and Nickels Worth Money
Nickels from 1942 to 1945 with a sizable mint mark above Monticello are the only ones more valuable due to their silver content. On the other hand, 90% of all dimes from 1964 and earlier are made of silver, making them at least as valuable as the precious metals they contain.
What Are the 25 Most Valuable Nickels?
There are specific criteria that you can use to determine which nickels are the most valuable. These include the date and mint mark of the coin, as well as its condition. Here is a look at 25 of the most valuable nickels based on these criteria:
1.) 1913 Liberty Head V Nickel – $4,228,955
2.) 1880 Shield Nickel – $20,000
3.) 1924 S Buffalo Nickel – $14,000
4.) 1926 S Buffalo Nickel – $7,600
5.) 1927 S Buffalo Nickel – $5,000
6.) 1881 Shield Nickel – $4,000
7.) 1883 Shield Nickel – $3,900
8.) 1867 Shield Nickel – $3,600
9.) 1920 D Buffalo Nickel – $3,500
10.) 1928 D Buffalo Nickel – $3,400
11.) 1918 D Buffalo Nickel – $3,300
12.) 1925 S Buffalo Nickel – $3,300
13.) 1924 D Buffalo Nickel – $3,000
14.) 1870 Shield Nickel – $3,000
15.) 1920 S Buffalo Nickel – $2,500
16.) 1872 Shield Nickel – $2,500
17.) 1919 D Buffalo Nickel – $2,350
18.) 1885 Liberty Head V Nickel – $2,328
19.) 1912 S Liberty Head V Nickel – $1,945
20.) 1886 Liberty Head V Nickel – $1,861
21.) 1877 Shield Nickel – $1,854
22.) 1938 Jefferson Nickel – $1,800
23.) 1873 Shield Nickel – $1,800
24.) 1874 Shield Nickel – $1,800
25.) 1916 D Buffalo Nickel – $1,780
Nickel Value Chart
The nickel value chart is a great way to track the value of your nickel investments. This easy-to-use tool shows you the current value of nickel coins, bars, and rounds and the historical price trends. You can also use the chart to see how nickel values have changed as measured by the coin’s condition, as seen below.
Poor (PO-1). These coins, sometimes called “Basal State,” are hardly recognizable. In most cases, sections of the design or date are already missing.
Fair (FR-2). While the designs may be barely discernible, and the wording may be gone, the date is still clear enough to recognize the coin.
About Good (AG-3). Most of the coin’s design, often known as “Nearly Good,” is outlined. Nonetheless, the rims might have penetrated the pattern far enough to remove some letters.
Good (G-4, 6). The broad outline of the coin’s design is still visible, although some details are obscured. Though these coins are sometimes described as being in “Excellent” condition, they nonetheless show signs of wear.
Fine (F-12, 15). The coins have relatively slight wear and tear, allowing the seven letters of the word “LIBERTY” to be visible.
Very Fine (VF-20, 25, 30, 35). The coin’s general features are still discernible, but it is modest to moderate evidence of deterioration. The word LIBERTY’s seven letters are still clearly discernible.
Extremely Fine (XF-40, 45). The coins can still have some traces of mint shine, but overall there are only minor symptoms of deterioration.
About Uncirculated (AU-50, 53, 55, 58). The coin displays exceptionally light wear, with the highest points scarcely showing signs of friction.
1940 Nickels Worth Money
A fine-graded specimen often costs 10 cents, while an MS 65 uncirculated coin can cost up to $11. However, during auctioning, some coins can be costly. For instance, a 1940 Jefferson cent graded MS 68 sold for $558 in 2021 at Legend Rare Coin Auctions.
1980s Nickels Worth Money
The NGC Price Guide estimates that a circulated 1980 Jefferson Nickel can cost between $0.10 and $0.20 as of February 2023. On the open market, 1980 P Nickels in flawless, the uncirculated condition can fetch up to $150.
Nickels are more than just the small change you get in your pocket. As it turns out, some of them can be worth a lot of money. The valuable nickels discussed above are great finds for coin collectors and those looking to make an extra buck on the side. While most nickels won’t make you rich, a few have special features or errors that can significantly increase their value. With the proper knowledge and resources, anyone can start collecting valuable coins at home without spending too much money.
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