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Early Jefferson Nickel Values 1938 - 1964

How Much Is My Jefferson Nickel Worth?

By , About.com Guide

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

This guide will give you the value of your Jefferson nickel minted between 1938 and 1964 (see also: Later Date Jefferson Nickel Values 1965 - Present).  The table listed below provides average coin values based upon the condition of the coin.  If the coin shows evidence of wear on it due to being used in commerce, it is considered "circulated." If it was never used, then it is classified as "uncirculated." Look at pictures below so you can determine the condition of your coin.  Some coins are valuable even in circulated condition, but remember that you cannot increase a coin's value by cleaning it. In fact, cleaned coins are worth considerable less and coin dealers can spot a cleaned coin immediately.  Therefore, never, never, never clean your coins.

Introduction to Coin Values

There are many factors that go into determining the value of your coins. First of all you must understand how the coin market works. If the coin dealer runs out of 1950-D Jefferson nickels, he cannot just order more of them from the mint because the mint does not make coins dated 1950 anymore. The coin dealer must replenish his supply by buying coins from other dealers or people off the street. What he pays you for that coin is known as the "wholesale price" or "value." If you want to buy that 1950-D nickel from the coin dealer, that is known as the "retail price" or "price."

Market Analysis

Jefferson nickels are still being made at the U.S. Mint and are actively used in commerce. Therefore, most circulated specimens are worth only face value, but there are a few that are worth a little more.  But don't expect to walk in to a coin shop with a big jar of Jefferson nickels and have the coin dealer dig through them to pull out the nice ones.  If you want to get top dollar for your Jefferson nickels, you need to sort them and organize them so the dealer can quickly see what you have.

Key Dates, Rarities and Varieties

The following Jefferson nickels in any condition, are worth considerable more than common ones.  Therefore, before you start celebrating your early retirement with your new found fortune, look at the coin carefully or have the coin authenticated by a reputable coin dealer or third party grading service.

  • 1939-D
  • 1942 to 1945 - Wartime Silver Alloy
    Note: If the mint mark on the reverse is above the building (see the "Mint Mark Location" photo below), the coin contains 35% silver or about 0.0563 troy ounces of pure silver.
  • 1943 P 3/2 - Doubled Die Obverse
  • 1949 D D/S - Repunched Mint Mark (or RPM)
  • 1950 D
  • 1954 S S/D - RPM
  • 1955 D D/S - RPM

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 right side next to Monticello for coins dated 1938 to 1942 and 1946 to 1964: Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (D) and San Francisco (S).  Beginning in 1942 and lasting until 1945, the Mint used an alloy of 35% silver and made the mint mark larger and moved 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 © 2012 James Bucki, All rights reserved.   

Jefferson Nickel Average Values

The following table lists the value (what you can expect a dealer to pay you) for your Jefferson nickels. The first column lists the date and mint mark (see the photo above) followed by the value of an average circulated coin and the average value for an uncirculated one. These are approximate values and the actual offer that you will receive from a particular dealer will vary depending on the actual grade of the coin and a number of other factors. Silver coins minted from 1942 to 1946 can vary greatly depending upon the price of silver.

Date Avg Circ Avg Unc Date Avg Circ Avg Unc
1938 F.V. $4.30 1949 F.V. $2.20
1938 D $0.70 $5.30 1949 D F.V. $2.10
1938 S $0.60 $5.00 1949 D D/S * $21.00 $120.00
1939 F.V. $3.70 1949 S F.V. $2.30
1939 D * $2.70 $36.00 1950 F.V. $1.70
1939 S $0.70 $13.00 1950 D * $4.00 $7.40
1940 F.V. $2.80 1951 F.V. $3.20
1940 D F.V. $2.80 1951 D F.V. $2.80
1940 S F.V. $4.40 1951 S F.V. $3.20
1941 F.V. $2.20 1952 F.V. $3.20
1941 D F.V. $3.40 1952 D F.V. $2.30
1941 S F.V. $3.70 1952 S F.V. $2.20
1942 F.V. $4.90 1953 F.V. $1.70
1942 D $0.70 $12.00 1953 D F.V. $2.20
Jefferson Nickel War Time Silver Alloy
War Time Silver Alloy (35% Silver) *
1953 S F.V. $1.70
1954 F.V. $1.70
1954 D F.V. $1.10
1954 S F.V. $4.30
1942 P $1.80 $4.30 1954 S S/D * $4.70 $34.00
1942 S $1.80 $5.20 1955 F.V. $1.10
1943 P $1.80 $3.80 1955 D F.V. $1.60
1943 P 3/2 * $30.00 $210.00 1955 D D/S * $5.10 $35.00
1943 D $1.80 $3.90 1956 F.V. $1.60
1943 S $1.80 $3.90 1956 D F.V. $1.70
1944 P $1.80 $3.90 1957 F.V. $1.70
1944 D $1.80 $5.00 1957 D F.V. $1.00
1944 S $1.80 $3.80 1958 F.V. $1.10
1945 P $1.80 $4.00 1958 D F.V. $1.60
1945 D $1.80 $3.90 1959 F.V. $0.60
1945 S $1.80 $3.30 1959 D F.V. $0.60
Copper-Nickel Alloy Resumed 1960 F.V. $0.50
1946 F.V. $2.20 1960 D F.V. $1.10
1946 D F.V. $2.80 1961 F.V. $0.60
1946 S F.V. $2.30 1961 D F.V. $1.10
1947 F.V. $2.20 1962 F.V. $0.50
1947 D F.V. $3.40 1962 D F.V. $0.50
1947 S F.V. $4.00 1963 F.V. $0.60
1948 F.V. $1.70 1963 D F.V. $0.60
1948 D F.V. $3.40 1964 F.V. $0.60
1948 S F.V. $3.30 1964 D F.V. $0.50

*= See the section above "Key Dates, Rarities and Varieties" for more information on these coins.
F.V. = Face Value ;

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

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