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Early Jefferson Nickel Prices 1938 - 1964

How Much Should I Pay For a Jefferson Nickel?

By , About.com Guide

Jefferson Nickel Obverse Image Courtesy of:
Heritage Auction Galleries,
Ha.com

This guide is intended to give you an idea of how much you should pay to a coin dealer to acquire a Jefferson nickel minted from 1938 to 1964 (see also: Later Date Jefferson Nickel Prices 1965 - Present).  The catalog below provides average coin prices based upon the condition of the coin.  If the coin has wear on it from being used in commerce, it considered "circulated." If it was never used, then it is classified as "uncirculated." Look at the photos below to see an example of each condition.

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Introduction to Coin Prices

There are many factors that go into determining the price that a dealer charges for coins. Knowledge of how the coin market works will help you understand how coin prices are determined. If a coin dealer runs out of 1939-D Jefferson nickels, he cannot just order more from the mint because the mint does not make coins dated 1939 anymore. The coin dealer must replenish his stock by buying coins from other dealers or individuals that come into his store. What he pays you for that coin is known as the "wholesale price" or "value." If you want to buy that 1939-D from the coin dealer, that is known as the "retail price" or "price."

Condition or Grade Examples

Jeffeson Nickel Average Circulated Condition Circulated Jefferson Nickel in Average Uncirculated Condition Uncirculated
Click on the photos above for a larger image.
Photos courtesy of Teletrade Coin Auctions, www.teletrade.com

Mint Marks

As illustrated in the picture below, the mint mark is located on the reverse, next to Monticello for coins dated 1938 to 1942 and 1946 to 1964: Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (D) and San Francisco (S).  From 1942 through 1945, the Mint used an alloy of 35% silver and made the mint mark larger and moved it above Monticello. During this time coins minted in Philadelphia had a "P" for a mint mark, while coins minted in Denver and San Francisco continued to use a "D" and "S" respectively.

Mint Mark Location
Jefferson Nickel mint mark location
1938-1942
and
1946-1964
Silver Jefferson Nickel mint mark location
Wartime Silver Alloy
1942 - 1945
Images Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com  

Jefferson Nickel Average Prices

The following table lists the price (what you can expect to pay to a dealer) for you to purchase a Jefferson nickel for your coin collection. The first column lists the date and mint mark (see the photo above) followed by the price of an average circulated ("Avg Circ") coin and the average price for an uncirculated ("Avg Unc") specimen. These are approximate prices and the actual price that a particular dealer charges will vary depending on the actual grade of the coin and a number of other factors.

Date Avg Circ Avg Unc Date Avg Circ Avg Unc
1938 $1.00 $8.00 1949 F.V. $3.00
1938 D $1.00 $9.00 1949 D F.V. $4.00
1938 S $2.00 $10.00 1949 D D/S $32.00 $234.00
1939 F.V. $6.00 1949 S F.V. $4.00
1939 D $4.00 $62.00 1950 F.V. $3.00
1939 S $1.00 $24.00 1950 D $6.00 $15.00
1940 F.V. $5.00 1951 F.V. $6.00
1940 D F.V. $6.00 1951 D F.V. $6.00
1940 S F.V. $8.00 1951 S F.V. $7.00
1941 F.V. $4.00 1952 F.V. $6.00
1941 D F.V. $6.00 1952 D F.V. $4.00
1941 S F.V. $7.00 1952 S F.V. $4.00
1942 F.V. $9.00 1953 F.V. $3.00
1942 D $1.00 $23.00 1953 D F.V. $4.00
Silver Jefferson Nickel mint mark location
War Time Silver Alloy (35% Silver) *
1953 S F.V. $3.00
1954 F.V. $3.00
1954 D F.V. $2.00
1954 S F.V. $8.00
1942 P $2.00 $9.00 1954 S S/D $7.00 $64.00
1942 S $2.00 $9.00 1955 F.V. $2.00
1943 P $2.00 $7.00 1955 D F.V. $3.00
1943 P 3/2 $47.00 $375.00 1955 D D/S $8.00 $64.00
1943 D $2.00 $7.00 1956 F.V. $3.00
1943 S $2.00 $7.00 1956 D F.V. $3.00
1944 P $2.00 $8.00 1957 F.V. $3.00
1944 D $2.00 $9.00 1957 D F.V. $2.00
1944 S $2.00 $7.00 1958 F.V. $3.00
1945 P $2.00 $7.00 1958 D F.V. $2.00
1945 D $2.00 $7.00 1959 F.V. $1.00
1945 S $2.00 $6.00 1959 D F.V. $1.00
Copper-Nickel Alloy Resumed 1960 F.V. $1.00
1946 F.V. $4.00 1960 D F.V. $2.00
1946 D F.V. $4.00 1961 F.V. $1.00
1946 S F.V. $4.00 1961 D F.V. $2.00
1947 F.V. $4.00 1962 F.V. $1.00
1947 D F.V. $5.00 1962 D F.V. $1.00
1947 S F.V. $7.00 1963 F.V. $1.00
1948 F.V. $3.00 1963 D F.V. $1.00
1948 D F.V. $5.00 1964 F.V. $1.00
1948 S F.V. $6.00 1964 D F.V. $1.00

F.V. = Face Value; You can get these coins out of your pocket change.
* = Nickels were made with 35% silver and contain 0.05626 troy ounces of silver.

These prices have been compiled through my personal analysis of the coin market, referencing publications such as Numismatic News, Coin World, "The Official Red Book; A Guide Book of U.S. Coins," published auction results and consulting with various coin dealers.

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