Now that I’ve covered the Westward Journey nickels, I might as well cover the rest of the nickels.
Let’s start with the more common Jefferson design.
These are all the nickels that you find in your everyday change.
More About Jefferson Nickels
First off, nickels are made of .750 copper and .250 nickel — with the exception of war nickels, which I will get to in a minute.
The Jefferson nickel was designed by Felix Schlag, who won a $1,000 award for it in a competition of among nearly 400 artists. This coin — that’s still our current currency today — started production way back in 1938.
So, if you’ve got an old nickel from the 40’s or 50’s, and you’re wondering what it’s worth… Well, it’s worth about a nickel!
Since the coin began production, there have been millions of them made about every year. Therefore, they are commonly found everywhere.
There are some exceptions such as war nickels and a few types of errors.
About Those War Nickels…
War nickels are Jefferson nickels that were made during the years of the war (1942-1945).
During this time, they needed to conserve nickel for the war, so they substituted it with silver.
These coins containing silver are naturally going to be worth more than 5 cents, due to their metal content.
They look almost identical to the other years of production, except that for these 4 years they put the mintmark in larger lettering on the reverse side of the coin — above the monticello building.
This was also the first year that Philidelphia, the oldest U.S. mint, had ever used a mintmark.
Here are more pictures of Jefferson war nickels.
How Much Are These Nickels Worth?
I am just going to list the few Jefferson nickels that are worth noting. If it’s not listed here, then you can assume that it’s worth 5 cents.
1945 S – $.80-$1.00
1945 D – $.80-$1.00
1945 P – $.80-$1.00
1945 P Double Die Reverse – $20.00-$30.00
1944 S – $.80-$1.00
1944 D – $.80-$1.00
1944 P – $.80-$1.00
1943 S – $.80-$1.00
1943 D – $.80-$1.00
1943 P – $.80-$1.00
1943 P Doubled Eye $30.00-$50.00
1943 P 3/2 – $50.00-$100.00 (3 was re-punched over a 2)
1942 S – $.80-$1.00
1942 P – $.80-$1.00
That’s all of the war nickels.Now, here are the other few Jefferson nickels that are worth noting:
1942 D Over Horizontal D – $50.00-$75.00
1939 D – $10.00-$12.00
1939 Doubled MONTICELLO – $70.00-$85.00
1938 S – $2.50
Are Nickels Worth Collecting?
If you’re going to collect nickels, this is a set that you can put together or buy complete from a dealer pretty cheap. Like I said, most of them will just come from your pocket change.
That is, unless you’re putting together a high grade set. If you’re going to collect any of the nickel sets from here on back such as buffalo, Liberty head, and shield nickels, then you’re going to pay quite a bit more money for them. But that is an article for another time…
UPDATE: 2010 Values
Jefferson Wartime nickels, which contain some silver, certainly are popular! Because of their silver content, the value of Wartime nickels fluctuates with the changing silver prices.
Right now, silver Wartime Jefferson nickels are worth around $1 to $2 if in average circulated grades.
Uncirculated Wartime Jefferson nickels command $5 and up in most cases.
Be sure to keep posted as the value of these coins keeps changing.