Ever imagined that nickel could be more than just five cents? Nestled in your change jar or hidden in an old drawer, a small fortune could be awaiting discovery. This isn’t a tale about mere cents; we’re unveiling nickels worth thousands, and yes, even millions of dollars. Intrigued yet?
From rare minting errors to historic designs, nickels have a lot more to offer than meets the eye. Not all nickels are created equal and some are worth far more than their face value. In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of valuable nickels, unraveling their rich history, showcasing their unique features, and revealing why they are considered hidden gems in the realm of coin collecting. So, before you cash in that coin jar or dismiss that old nickel as mere spare change, read on. You might just have a treasure in your pocket!
The 21 Most Valuable Nickels in the World
1. 1913 Liberty Head V Nickel – (~$5,262,000)
The most valuable Nickel in the world is the 1913 Liberty Head V Nickel, a coin that’s as rare as it is mysterious. With only five known to exist, this nickel wasn’t even officially minted, making its very existence a subject of intrigue and speculation. This air of mystery only adds to its staggering value, which is estimated to be around $5,262,000.
But what really sets this nickel apart is its last auction price. In August 2018, a 1913 Liberty Head V Nickel in PR66 condition was sold for an eye-watering $4,560,000.00. This sale price not only reflects the coin’s extreme rarity but also its unique place in the world of numismatics. So, if you’re ever lucky enough to come across one of these elusive nickels, know that you’re holding a piece of history with an astronomical worth.
Also, don’t forget to use our Silver Calculator to see the current value of your silver coin.
2. 1964 Jefferson Nickel Mirror Brockage (~$1,153,000)
The 1964 Jefferson Nickel Mirror Brockage stands out due to a fascinating minting error. In this case, an already-struck coin stuck to the die, causing the next coin minted to display a mirrored image of the design. This extraordinary error results in a unique and highly prized coin, with its worth estimated at around $1,153,000. For more details, check our comprehensive guide on the valuable 1964 Nickel
3. 1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel Doubled Die Obverse (~$504,164)
The 1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel Doubled Die Obverse is a striking example of a minting mistake creating a rarity. This coin features an overdate, where the number ‘8’ in the date was struck over the number ‘7’. This unintended blunder transformed an ordinary nickel into a desirable collector’s item, worth approximately $504,164.
4. 1926-S Buffalo Nickel: $433,400
Known for its incredibly low mintage, making it the rarest Buffalo Nickel date in mint state condition.
5. 1916 Buffalo Nickel Doubled Die Obverse: $432,198
A highly sought-after variety due to its prominent doubling.
6. 1880 Shield Nickel: $208,581
One of the rarest and most valuable of all Shield Nickels, especially in higher grades.
7. 1867 Shield Nickel With Rays: $202,868
Notable for its design featuring rays between the stars on the reverse.
8. 1913-D Buffalo Nickel Type 2: $193,447
One of the key dates in the Buffalo Nickel series, is distinguished by its “raised mound” reverse design.
9. 1917-S Buffalo Nickel: $185,729
Known for its low mintage, making it one of the more difficult Buffalo Nickels to find.
10. 1920-D Buffalo Nickel: $185,729
A coin that’s hard to find in good condition due to the poor striking quality of Denver Mint Buffalo Nickels.
11. 1918-S Buffalo Nickel: $169,079
Notable for its low mintage and poor striking quality, making well-struck examples highly valuable.
12. 1919-S Buffalo Nickel: $157,063
Known for its low mintage and frequently weak strike.
13. 1935 Buffalo Nickel Doubled Die Reverse: $146,238
This coin features a prominent doubling on the reverse, making it a popular variety.
14. 1924-S Buffalo Nickel: $127,695
A key date in the Buffalo Nickel series due to its low mintage.
15. 1937-D Buffalo Nickel Three Legs: $107,749
A famous mint error where the buffalo appears to have only three legs.
16. 1927-S Buffalo Nickel: $61,692
One of the semi-key dates in the Buffalo Nickel series, with a relatively low mintage.
17. 1964 Jefferson Nickel SMS: $39,692
One of the Special Mint Set (SMS) coins known for its distinct matte-like appearance.
18. 1936-D Buffalo Nickel Three and a Half Legs: $22,452
Another intriguing mint error where one of the buffalo’s legs is only partially visible.
19. 1942-D Over Horizontal D Jefferson Nickel: $11,126
A valuable mint error resulting from a mistake in the placement of the mint mark.
20. 1914 4 Over 3 Buffalo Nickel: $7,116
A rare and valuable overdate error where the last digit of the date was punched over a different number.
21. 1885 Liberty Head V Nickel: $3,809
Known for its low mintage, making it one of the key dates in the Liberty Head Nickel series.
A Brief History of Different Nickel Series
Over 150 Years of Nickel History
The journey of the U.S. nickel began in 1866 with the introduction of the Shield Nickel, marking the beginning of a rich numismatic story. Over time, the nickel has witnessed significant changes, from design alterations reflecting the nation’s growth to metal composition adjustments due to economic pressures and wartime demands. Each variant in the nickel’s timeline represents a unique chapter in American history, making it more than just a five-cent piece.
The evolution of the nickel has been characterized by a series of distinct designs, each with its own unique appeal and historical significance. Let’s journey through the different series that have graced the U.S. nickel over the years.
Shield Nickels: The Beginning
The Shield Nickel, introduced in 1866, marked the advent of the five-cent nickel coin. Named for its prominent shield design on the obverse, this series set the stage for the tradition of nickel coinage in the U.S. Its classic design and the fact it was the first of its kind make it highly sought after by collectors.
Liberty Head Nickels: The V Nickels
The Liberty Head Nickel, often referred to as the ‘V’ Nickel due to the Roman numeral “V” (5) on the reverse, succeeded the Shield Nickel in 1883. Designed by Charles E. Barber, it features the head of Lady Liberty on the Obverse. The series is famous for the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel, one of the rarest and most valuable coins in the world. Read our guide about The Most Valuable Liberty Head Nickels for more information.
Replacing the Liberty Head Nickel in 1913, the Indian Head, or Buffalo Nickel, is considered an icon of American coinage. James Earle Fraser’s design, featuring a Native American on the obverse and a buffalo on the reverse, celebrates the nation’s Western Frontier. It’s particularly cherished for its embodiment of quintessential American themes. Check out our guide on The Most Valuable Buffalo Nickels Worth Money.
Jefferson Nickels: Modern-day Classics
The Jefferson Nickel came into circulation in 1938 and continues to this day, making it the longest-running nickel series. Featuring President Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and his home, Monticello, on the reverse, the design underwent a few changes, but the classic look remains. Some of these valuable Jefferson Nickels are sought after by collectors and can fetch high prices, especially those minted during key dates and carrying unique features or errors.
Nickel Value: Determining Factors and Auction Records
Appreciating the value of nickels requires a comprehensive understanding of various determining factors. These include the coin’s mintage, condition, and historical significance, similar to what we’ve discussed in our post on the Value of Coins. While some nickels derive their value from their silver content, others are coveted for their rarity, distinctive designs, or minting errors. The grade of the coin is equally important, with higher-graded specimens typically fetching higher prices. Nonetheless, it’s essential to remember that a coin’s market value is ultimately defined by what collectors are prepared to pay. Now, let’s delve deeper into the intricacies that shape the value of these captivating coins.
What Year Nickels Are Worth Money?
Not all nickels are created equal, and their year of minting can greatly impact their value. For instance, key dates, like the 1913 Liberty Head V Nickel or the 1926-S Buffalo Nickel, are worth a considerable sum due to their scarcity. Semi-key dates, such as the 1927-S Buffalo Nickel, also hold significant value. Even modern nickels, like the 1964 Jefferson Nickel SMS, can be valuable due to unique factors such as special mint sets or minting errors. It’s worth noting that not all old nickels are necessarily valuable; their worth is often a combination of rarity, condition, and demand among collectors.
Notable Nickel Auction Records
Nickel auction records provide a clear illustration of their potential value. A prime example is the 1913 Liberty Head V Nickel, which fetched an impressive $5,262,000 in an auction, making it one of the most expensive coins ever sold. The 1964 Jefferson Nickel Mirror Brockage also made headlines when it was auctioned for $1,153,000, demonstrating the premium that collectors are willing to pay for unique minting errors. Regularly monitoring auction results can offer valuable insights into current market trends and the factors that drive the highest prices.
Buyer’s Guide: Tips for Collecting and Investing in Valuable Nickels
Embarking on the journey of collecting and investing in valuable nickels can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor. However, it also requires knowledge, patience, and strategic planning. Here are some key tips to help you navigate the world of nickel collecting and investing.
Understand the Market
The first step in collecting and investing in valuable nickels is understanding the coin market. Regularly monitor auction prices, stay updated with the latest trends, and be aware of the factors that influence the value of coins. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions about when to buy and sell.
Know Your Coins
Take time to learn about the different series of nickels, their key dates, and any notable minting errors or varieties. Familiarize yourself with the grading system used to assess a coin’s condition, as this significantly impacts its value.
Coin collecting is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time to build a valuable collection. Patience is key when waiting for the right coin at the right price. Remember, the goal is to build a collection that you’re proud of and that has the potential to appreciate over time.
Seek Expert Advice
When starting, it can be beneficial to seek advice from seasoned collectors or numismatic professionals. They can provide valuable insights into the market and help authenticate and grade coins.
Protect Your Investment
Proper storage is crucial for preserving the condition of your coins. Invest in quality coin holders, capsules, or albums that offer protection from environmental damage. It’s also important to handle your coins carefully to avoid causing any wear or damage.
Enjoy the Journey
Lastly, remember to enjoy the process. Coin collecting is not just about investment; it’s also a hobby that allows you to learn about history, art, and culture. Whether you’re in it for the potential financial return or the sheer enjoyment of collecting, the world of valuable nickels holds a treasure trove of fascinating discoveries. When you’re ready to monetize your efforts, there are platforms where you can conveniently sell coins online.
Conclusion: The Everlasting Appeal of Rare Nickels
The allure of rare nickels lies not just in their potential monetary value but also in their historical significance, artistry, and the stories they carry. Each coin is a tangible piece of history, offering a glimpse into the era it was minted. Whether it’s the iconic design of the Indian Head (Buffalo) Nickel, the intrigue surrounding the 1913 Liberty Head V Nickel, or the fascinating minting errors that create unexpected rarities, each nickel has a unique tale to tell.
Collecting and investing in these treasures offer a rewarding journey into the world of numismatics. It’s a pursuit that combines history, art, economics, and detective work, offering endless opportunities for learning and discovery. As we’ve seen, even the humble nickel can hold hidden treasures, underscoring the adage that big things often come in small packages.
Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the field, we hope this guide has provided valuable insights into the fascinating world of valuable nickels. As you delve into this hobby, may you find not only financial rewards but also the joy of discovery, the thrill of the hunt, and the satisfaction of preserving a piece of history. Happy coin hunting!
What makes a 1964 nickel valuable?
The 1964 nickel can be valuable, especially if it’s a special mint set (SMS) coin or if it has an unusual minting error such as the Mirror Brockage. The 1964 Jefferson Nickel SMS, for instance, is estimated to be worth around $39,692. The Mirror Brockage error, on the other hand, has made the 1964 Jefferson Nickel one of the most valuable, with a staggering worth of over $1,153,000. The rarity of these coins combined with their unique characteristics significantly enhances their appeal to collectors and drives up their value.
What nickels to look for?
When hunting for valuable nickels, look for key dates, minting errors, and coins in excellent condition. Some valuable nickels include the 1913 Liberty Head V Nickel, the 1926-S Buffalo Nickel, and the 1964 Jefferson Nickel SMS. Also, keep an eye out for any nickels that seem unusual, as they might contain minting errors that could add to their value.
What Jefferson nickels are worth keeping?
Jefferson nickels worth keeping include the 1939 doubled Monticello, 1942 to 1945 war nickels, and the 1950-D nickel due to its low mintage. In addition, any Jefferson nickels with minting errors or in especially good condition can also be valuable.
How do I know if my nickel is worth money?
To determine if your nickel is worth money, check its date, mint mark, and condition. Older nickels, those with low mintage, or coins with minting errors can be valuable. If you suspect your nickel might be valuable, consider having it appraised by a coin dealer or numismatic professional.
What years are nickels worth money?
Certain years are particularly valuable when it comes to nickels. Some of these include 1913 (Liberty Head V Nickel), 1926-S, 1937-D (Buffalo Nickels), and 1950-D (Jefferson Nickel). However, the value of nickel can depend on a variety of factors, not just the year it was minted.