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Liberty Head Nickel Values

How Much Is My Liberty Head Nickel ("V" Nickel) Worth?

By , About.com Guide

Liberty Head Nickels
Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

This value guide will give you an idea of how much your Liberty Head nickels minted from 1883 to 1912 are worth (see also: How Much Should I Pay For a Liberty Head Nickel?).  The table below presents average coin values based upon the condition of the coin.  If the coin shows evidence of wear on it due to being used in business transactions, it is considered "circulated." If it was never used and shows no signs of wear, then it is classified as "uncirculated." The photos below show examples of each condition.  Some coins are very valuable even in well worn condition.  Please note that you cannot increase a coin's value by cleaning it. As a matter of fact, cleaned coins are worth considerable less and coin dealers can spot a cleaned coin immediately.

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 1883 "No CENTS" Liberty Head nickels, he cannot just order more of them from the Mint because the U.S. Mint does not make coins dated 1883 anymore. The coin dealer must replenish his supply by buying coins from other dealers or from 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 1883 "No CENTS" Liberty Head nickel from the coin dealer, that is known as the "retail price" or "price."

Market Analysis

Liberty Head nickels are considered a "classic coin" to collect. Since there are plenty of well worn examples in dealer's inventory, these coins will only bring you a few dollars. Additionally, there are a few dates that will bring you well over a hundred dollars in any condition.  But don't expect to walk in to a coin shop with a bag of Liberty Head Nickels and have the coin dealer dig through them to pull out the expensive ones.  If you want top dollar for your Liberty Head 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 Liberty Head nickels in any condition, are worth considerable more than common Liberty Head nickels.  As such, these coins are frequently counterfeit or altered from common Liberty Head nickels.  Therefore, before you start celebrating your early retirement with your new found fortune, have the coin authenticated by a reputable coin dealer or third party grading service. The following dates are worth considerably more than common date coins:

  • 1885
  • 1886
  • 1912-S
  • 1913 (only five known examples; highly counterfeited coin)

Condition or Grade Examples

Liberty Head Nickel Average Circulated Condition Circulated Liberty Head 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 Nickel 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 Values

The following table lists the value (what you can expect a dealer to pay you) for your Liberty Head Nickel. 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.

Date Avg Circ Avg Unc Date Avg Circ Avg Unc
1883 No CENTS $5.70 $35.00 1899 $6.00 $110.00
1883 With CENTS $23.00 $140.00 1900 $6.30 $110.00
1884 $26.00 $210.00 1901 $5.70 $90.00
1885 * $500.00 $2,200.00 1902 $5.00 $90.00
1886 * $240.00 $1,600.00 1903 $5.00 $100.00
1887 $17.00 $170.00 1904 $4.60 $90.00
1888 $43.00 $280.00 1905 $4.10 $80.00
1889 $21.00 $150.00 1906 $4.80 $90.00
1890 $16.00 $170.00 1907 $3.80 $90.00
1891 $14.00 $150.00 1908 $3.90 $90.00
1892 $14.00 $140.00 1909 $4.30 $110.00
1893 $14.00 $150.00 1910 $3.70 $90.00
1894 $55.00 $270.00 1911 $4.00 $80.00
1895 $15.00 $190.00 1912 $4.70 $100.00
1896 $24.00 $190.00 1912 D $11.00 $280.00
1897 $10.00 $120.00 1912 S * $160.00 $1,400.00
1898 $7.50 $130.00 1913 * (only 5 exist) - $3,737,500

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

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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