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Liberty Head Nickel (or "V" Nickel) Prices

How Much Should I Pay For a Liberty Head Nickel?

By , About.com Guide

Liberty Head Nickel Image Courtesy of:
Heritage Auction Galleries,

This price guide will give you an estimate of how much you should pay to purchase a Liberty Head Nickel minted between 1883 and 1912 (see also: How Much Is My Liberty Head Nickel Worth?).  The catalog below provides average coin prices based upon the condition of the coin.  If the coin has been worn from being used in commerce, it considered "circulated." If it was never used, then it is classified as "uncirculated." The pictures below illustrate examples of each condition.

Introduction to Coin Prices

There are many factors that go into determining the price that a dealer charges for coins. An understanding of how the coin market works will help you. If the coin dealer sells all of her 1912-S Liberty Head nickels, she cannot just call the mint and order more of them because the mint does not make coins dated 1912 anymore. The coin dealer must replenish her supply by buying coins from other dealers or people that come to her store. What she pays you for that coin is known as the "wholesale price" or "value." If you want to buy that 1912-S nickel from the coin dealer, that is known as the "retail price" or "price."

Condition or Grade Examples

Liberty Head Nickel Average Circulated Condition Circulated Liberty Head Nickel (or "V" 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

Liberty Head nickels were produced at three different mints: Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (D) and San Francisco (S).  As illustrated in the picture below, the mint mark is located on the reverse of the coin in the lower right area. 

Liberty Head NickelXX mint mark location
Mint Mark Location
Images Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

1883 No "CENTS" and "CENTS" Type

In 1883, the first year of production for Liberty Head nickels, the denomination of five cents was indicated by the roman numeral "V" on the reverse. Enterprising people gold plated the coins in an effort to pass them off as five dollar gold pieces. In order to stop this practice, the U.S. Mint added the word "CENTS" at the bottom of the coin on the reverse.  This created two types of Liberty Head nickels in 1883: the Without CENTS (or No "CENTS") and the With CENTS.

Liberty Head Nickel mint mark location
1883 With CENTS and Without CENTS
{Click on the image above for a lager photo}
Images Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

Liberty Head Nickel Average Prices

The following table lists the expected price (what you can expect to pay a dealer) for you to obtain a Liberty Head Nickel. 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") one. These are approximate values 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
1883 No CENTS $10.00 $62.00 1899 $10.00 $170.00
1883 With CENTS $36.00 $220.00 1900 $10.00 $160.00
1884 $42.00 $340.00 1901 $8.00 $150.00
1885 $740.00 $3,800.00 1902 $8.00 $150.00
1886 $370.00 $2,700.00 1903 $7.00 $150.00
1887 $31.00 $290.00 1904 $7.00 $140.00
1888 $68.00 $420.00 1905 $7.00 $140.00
1889 $32.00 $270.00 1906 $6.00 $150.00
1890 $24.00 $250.00 1907 $6.00 $150.00
1891 $22.00 $240.00 1908 $6.00 $160.00
1892 $23.00 $240.00 1909 $7.00 $180.00
1893 $22.00 $230.00 1910 $6.00 $140.00
1894 $88.00 $480.00 1911 $6.00 $140.00
1895 $25.00 $320.00 1912 $7.00 $150.00
1896 $40.00 $320.00 1912 D $18.00 $450.00
1897 $15.00 $200.00 1912 S $260.00 $2,500.00
1898 $11.00 $230.00 1913 * (Only 5 exist) - $5,000,000

* = There are only five know examples of the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel.  This coin has been reproduced and counterfeited many times over the years.  Most examples found are counterfeits.

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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