Here’s Why Some 1989 Nickels Are Worth Much More Than Face Value Today

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By Joshua

1989 U.S. Nickel Value

A 1989 Jefferson nickel recently turned up in my pocket change.

Now this 1989 nickel wasn’t worth more than face value — because it was worn and had nothing unusual about it. But it brought to my mind the exciting realization that there really are some rare and valuable 1989 nickels worth money out there.

So, which 1989 nickels should you be looking for?

I’m going to answer some of the most common questions people have about 1989 nickel values and help you peg down how much your 1989 nickel may be worth.

In this article you will learn:

  • Which 1989 U.S. nickels are rare and valuable
  • What the different mintmarks on 1989 nickels mean
  • If there are any 1989 silver nickels
  • How much all types of 1989 Jefferson nickels are worth today

What Is The Design On A 1989 Nickel?

The 1989 Jefferson nickel looks pretty much like all other nickels going back to the late 1930s.

That’s right! Except for some minor tweaks and refinements to the motifs over the years (not to mention the changing of the date on the coin), the Jefferson nickel had gone pretty much unchanged since sculptor Felix Schlag designed the coin in 1938.

All 1989 nickels look pretty much identical to one another, too. There aren’t any other 1989 U.S. nickel designs out there except for the one showing President Thomas Jefferson on the obverse (heads side) and his Virginia home Monticello on the reverse (tail’s side).

Are There Any 1989 Silver Nickels?

I’ve got news for you… You can rest easy knowing you’re not missing out on any valuable 1989 silver nickels. They aren’t worth looking for because there are none to be found.

Some people think there are some rare 1989 silver nickels worth money — perhaps because they heard about the silver war nickels of the 1940s. These nickels were made from 1942 through 1945 during the height of World War II, and these so-called silver nickels helped preserve nickel for the war effort.

So, while it’s natural to think there may be some 1989 silver nickels of value out there, the U.S. Mint didn’t make any.

What Do The Mintmarks On 1989 Nickels Mean?

You’ve probably noticed the little mint letter stamp underneath the date of your 1989 nickel. You may be wondering if it adds any value to your coin.

The 3 mintmarks you can find on 1989 nickels are:

You’re going to find one of 3 different mintmarks on the 1989 nickel. They tell you which mint facility struck the coin.

  • P = Philadelphia Mint
  • D = Denver Mint
  • S = San Francisco Mint

The 2 mintmarks you’re most likely to find on 1989 nickels are the “P” and “D” mintmarks. This is because the Philadelphia Mint and the Denver Mint struck all of the circulating coinage in 1989.

So, what about 1989 nickels with an “S” mintmark?

The San Francisco Mint struck special collectible versions of the 1989 nickel known as proofs. These proof coins were specially made using highly polished blanks and carefully prepared dies, and they were sold directly to the public in sets including one example of each circulating coin struck that year.

You may not have much luck finding a 1989-S proof nickel in your spare change, but you can buy one from a coin dealer for a couple bucks or so.

Are 1989 Nickels Rare?

In the categorical sense, the 1989 Jefferson nickel is common.

More than 1.4 billion (yes, billion with a “B“) were struck. The Philadelphia Mint struck 898,812,000 nickels in 1989, and the Denver Mint churned out 570,842,474. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Mint produced 3,220,194 of the special proof nickels for collectors.

Even as the number of 1989 nickels in circulation begins noticeably decreasing as time goes on, it’s hard to imagine a point anytime soon where these coins will be considered scarce. So many 1989 nickels have been saved by coin collectors or squirreled away in change jars.

So, which 1989 nickels are worth some real cash money? Like, the big bucks?

Generally, the rarest and most valuable 1989 nickels are those that have been kept in uncirculated grades or contain errors and varieties.

Now, let’s find the value of your 1989 nickels…

How Much Is A 1989 Nickel Worth Today?

The real value of your 1989 nickel largely comes down to whether it is circulated (worn), uncirculated (not at all worn), or a proof specimen.

If you’ve found a circulated 1989-P nickel or a 1989-D nickel in your pocket change that looks pretty much normal, but it’s worn and dirty (or maybe even dark in color)… it’s worth its face value of 5 cents. Most 1989 nickels that you find today will fall into this category — sorry.

The real money comes into the picture when you start talking about uncirculated and proof 1989 nickels.

Proof Jefferson nickels that have been kept in the pristine condition in which they were originally sold can be worth $2 to $5 apiece.

Uncirculated nickels are those that have absolutely no sign of wear on them, and many of them look like they just left the mint yesterday. Most uncirculated 1989 nickels are worth 20 to 50 cents apiece today.

Some uncirculated 1989 nickels are worth even more than that. For example, if you find an uncirculated 1989 nickel in nearly perfect condition (with virtually no nicks, scratches, or other outward flaws), it could be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars!

One thing that makes uncirculated Jefferson nickels particularly valuable is if they show a complete strike on the 5 or 6 steps near the base of the Monticello building. The appearance of 5 or 6 complete, unbroken step lines qualifies for the coveted Full Steps grade designation on a Jefferson Nickel. However, only uncirculated nickels are eligible for the Full Steps grade — worn nickels can’t be graded with Full Steps.

What Is The Grade Of Your 1989 Nickel?

In order to accurately determine the value of your 1989 Jefferson nickel, you first need to know the coin’s condition (or grade).

So, grab a coin magnifier and then find out the grade of your coin using the tips outlined in this video:

Rare 1989 Nickel Errors… And Their Values

The majority of 1989 nickel errors (like minor off-center strikes or broadstrikes) really aren’t worth a ton of money. Such errors on 1989 nickels are worth somewhere between $10 and $30 apiece.

One really cool nickel error involves a 1989-D Jefferson nickel struck on a 1989-D Lincoln penny. This so-called double denomination error coin was graded Mint State-64 Red by Numismatic Guaranty Company and sold for $1,610 in January 2007.

Other drastic 1989 nickel errors fetch upward of $250!

The most valuable 1989 nickel (without errors) sold for $1,140! This 1989-P Mint State-68 Full Steps Jefferson nickel was sold at an August 2022 Heritage Auctions event.

Curious how much your 1989 nickel might be worth?

Post a picture of your coin below in the comments section and I’ll try my best to help!