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Everything You Need To Know About 1988 Nickel Values — And Weren’t Afraid To Ask

Cracking The Code On 1988 Nickel Values

I remember when 1988 nickels started hitting pocket change when I was a kid. I always loved looking for new coins, and I remember thinking the double 8s (88) on the coin looked cool — because it was the first repetition of numerals I had ever seen on mint-fresh coins.

Today we're cracking the code on 1998 nickel values!

But are 1988 nickels worth anything more than just five cents these days?…

Believe it or not, there are some 1988 Jefferson nickels worth more than their face value.

However, you’ve got to know what to look for. Because two 1988 nickels that may look similar at first glance may be worth two entirely different values — one safe to spend, the other worth hundreds of dollars or more.

Today, I’m going to help you determine what your 1988 Jefferson nickels may be worth…

In this article, you will learn:

  • Which 1988 nickels are rare
  • What the different mintmarks on 1988 nickels mean
  • Whether or not there are any 1988 silver nickels
  • How much all types of 1988 nickels are worth today

What Is The Design On A 1988 Nickel?

The 1988 nickel is virtually identical to the way the first Jefferson nickel looked when it debuted in 1938. 

All 1988 nickels have the same design by Felix Schlag — which shows President Thomas Jefferson on the obverse (“heads side”) and his Virginia home of Monticello on the reverse (“tails side”). 

Are 1988 Silver Nickels Worth Looking For?

You have no idea how often people ask me about what 1988 silver nickels are worth, or if there are any even at all.

While there are no 1988 silver nickels out there, questions about 1988 silver nickel values certainly aren’t dumb. After all, the United States Mint has indeed made silver nickels before.

During World War II, the U.S. Mint struck silver Jefferson nickels to help conserve the durable metal nickel for war artillery.

These so-called silver war nickels, struck from 1942 through 1945, are highly collectible and can be quite valuable.

But unfortunately, there aren’t any 1988 silver nickels out there — so it’s not worth your time and trouble to go looking for them.

Which Mintmarks Appear On 1988 Nickels?

Another good question!

Three different U.S. Mint facilities struck 1988 nickels. These three mints and their mintmarks are:

  • Philadelphia – P
  • Denver – D
  • San Francisco – S

You’re bound to find only two mintmarks on 1988 nickels in circulation. These would be the “P” mintmark from the Philadelphia Mint and the “D” mintmark symbolizing the Denver Mint. Both of these mints struck circulating 1988 Jefferson nickels — the kind designed to be spent as money.

So, what about the San Francisco Mint and its nickels?

The San Francisco Mint struck special collectible versions of the 1988 Jefferson nickel that are known as proofs.

These proof coins were made using highly polished blanks that were intentionally struck at least twice using specially prepared dies on high-tonnage presses — allowing each and every minute detail on the coin to be fully rendered onto the finished coin.

All 1988-S nickels were sold by the U.S. Mint directly to the public in proof sets.

Today, collectors can buy 1988-S proof sets and individual 1988-S proof nickels from coin dealers.

Are 1988 Nickels Rare Or Common?

In general, most 1988 Jefferson nickels are pretty common. While these coins are getting older by the day and becoming a little harder to find in pocket change than they once were, there are still huge numbers of them out there.

In fact, the Philadelphia Mint struck 771,360,000 (that’s more than 771 million!), and the Denver Mint produced 663,771,652 (nearly 664 million!). Even those special 1988-S proof nickels from the San Francisco Mint were struck to the tune of 3,262,948 — yep, beyond 3 million pieces!

So, no… 1988 nickels are not categorically rare.

Then why are we even talking about rare and valuable 1988 nickels if more than 1.4 billion (with a “B“) rolled off the U.S. Mint’s presses?

That’s because many 1988 nickels are worth substantially more than face value due to their condition or the presence of mistakes and oddities known to coin collectors as errors and varieties.

Are you ready to find out what your 1988 nickel is worth? Thought you’d never ask…

How Much Is A 1988 Nickel Worth Today?

It depends on whether your coin is circulated, uncirculated, or a proof nickel.

Many 1988 nickels are worth hundreds of times their face value. In fact, some recently sold for more than $3,000!

If you’ve found a circulated 1988-P nickel or 1988-D nickel and it looks basically normal, shows some wear, appears dark or dirty, or otherwise looks typical… then it’s worth 5 cents. This describes the vast majority of the 1988 nickels you will ever find in pocket change, coin jars, or just about any other place you could randomly locate one.

However, uncirculated 1988 nickels (the kind that have absolutely no wear and appear to have just left the U.S. Mint yesterday) are worth more. Most uncirculated 1988 nickels have a value of between 20 and 50 cents.

Some uncirculated 1988 nickels are worth even more than that, although the “nearly perfect” ones that don’t show any significant nicks, scratches, or other detractions are extremely hard to find. These are the kinds that can be worth some real cash money — hundreds or, yes, even thousands of dollars, as I’ll show you in a moment.

As for those 1988-S proof nickels… they generally fetch $2 to $5 apiece.

There’s also another class of highly rare and valuable 1988 nickel that you need to be looking for!

Look for 1988 nickels that show Full Steps details near the base of the Monticello building on the back of the coin — the reverse. A Full Steps nickel has to reveal 5 or 6 complete, unbroken steps.

You will not, I repeat, NOT find Full Steps details on any worn 1988 nickels. The only way a Jefferson nickel would even stand a chance of being designated Full Steps is if it’s uncirculated.

IMPORTANT: What Is The Grade Of Your 1988 Nickel?

To determine the true value of your 1988 nickel, you first need to know what condition (or grade) your coin is in.

Grab a coin magnifier and a copy of the U.S. Coin Grading Standards book. Then, watch this video to see how to grade coins yourself at home:

TIME-SAVING TIP: These are the best coin grading apps that make grading coins yourself even easier!

Rare 1988 Nickel Errors… And Their Values

In terms of 1988 nickel values, here’s where we start talking big money!

While 1988 nickel error values are all over the board — with some worth only a few bucks and others worth hundreds — there are some out there that are worth thousands!

For example, an off-center 1988 nickel might be worth on average $10 to $25, while a broadstrike 1988 nickel can take $15 to $50.

Now consider a 1988-P nickel that was struck on a 1988-P dime! It was graded Mint State-67, certified by Numismatic Guaranty Company, and it took an incredible $2,520 in an August 2022 Heritage Auctions sale.

There are many other similar 1988 nickel errors that are worth more than $500 apiece as well.

The Most Valuable 1988 Nickel

The most valuable 1988 Jefferson nickel sold for $3,500!

That’s right… A 1988-D nickel graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as Mint State-67 Full Steps hammered for $3,500 in a March 2019 eBay auction.

Do you have a 1988 nickel? Think there may be something unique about it? Post a picture of your nickel in the comments below and I’ll try to help!