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I remember how hard it was to find 2009 Jefferson nickels in circulation… back in 2009.
I’ve been looking for new coins to add to my collection from pocket change since 1992 — and I recall that I had never had such a challenging time landing the new coins from any given year in circulation before this!
The year 2009 was different. It was actually a very busy year for circulating U.S. coins:
- There were the 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial pennies with 4 different designs.
- There was also the brand new 2009 DC and U.S. Territorial quarters — a one-year only program that replaced the 50 State Quarters, which ran from 1999 through 2008.
So, what’s up with the 2009 nickel? Why are they so hard to find?…
The Story Behind 2009 Nickels
If you’re old enough, you likely remember the Great Recession. It was a period of economic unease that followed a stream of bad news — ranging from the crash of the housing market to massive layoffs across many business sectors. It was a tough time to be looking for a job, let me tell you…
The recession might have been technically over by mid-2009, but that didn’t mean the economy sprang back to life right away. It dogged the economy for a while. It took a few years for some sectors to fully recover, and nearly a decade for housing prices to rebound to pre-2007 levels in many areas of the country.
As you may guess, recessions are times when people buy fewer things. This can lead to less of a need for new coins in circulation.
There have been many times in the past when the U.S. Mint dialed back mintages of circulating coins during economic recessions — such as in the early 1920s and mid-1950s. The year 2009 was no exception, with some of the smallest business-strike mintages in decades at the U.S. Mint.
Millions of Americans didn’t know this from the onset. It wasn’t until later in 2009 that news of the smaller mintages for nickels made its way into the public. Personally, I learned about the situation with the 2009 nickel mintages from reading coin forums and articles. I found out that many 2009 nickels were being hoarded by collectors and others who were “in the know.” And that explains why I simply couldn’t land these coins in pocket change for so long!
As an avid collector, I’ve noticed that 2009 nickels are still hard to find today in circulation.
Because the Philadelphia Mint struck only 39,840,000 nickels in 2009. And the Denver Mint produced just 46,800,000. Those were the smallest mintages of circulating nickels since 1959, when a mere 27,248,000 nickels rolled out of the Philadelphia Mint.
By 2010, things were getting a little bit better on the economic scene — and subsequently, production figures did perk up for nickels that year.
What this all boils down to is that 2009 nickels are scarce in circulation.
So, are 2009 nickels valuable and worth looking for?
Yes! Let’s talk about why… and find out how much your 2009 nickels are worth.
2009 Nickel Values
We already covered the fact that 2009 nickels had low mintages, but does this translate to higher values?
Yes and no…
No – in that that you aren’t going to get rich quick by plucking 2009 nickels from your pocket change.
Yes – in that 2009-P nickels and 2009-D nickels are worth marginally higher prices than similar pieces from adjacent years.
Let’s break down the 2009 nickel values…
2009-P Nickel Value
The 2009-P nickel is the slightly scarcer of the two business-strike nickels made that year — coming in at just under 40 million. In circulated condition, a 2009-P nickel is worth its face value of 5 cents.
However, uncirculated 2009-P nickels go for around 50 cents to $1 apiece on average — a tad higher than uncirculated nickels from other years in that era. That’s not too bad, especially if you can find them in uncirculated condition from rolls of coins you get from the bank at face value. Personally, that’s how I’ve managed to find several 2009 nickels.
In this video, I’m showing how to find valuable coins in coin rolls from the bank:
2009-D Nickel Value
The Denver Mint may have churned out more than 46 million nickels in 2009, but that’s still a fraction of the sum we had seen for most years since the 1960s.
While some would think that the relative rarity of the 2009 nickel would suggest at some premium for circulated examples, that’s just not the case at this time — not with 2009-D nickels, and not with 2009-P nickels either. Worn specimens of the 2009-D nickel are generally worth their face value of 5 cents.
However, uncirculated 2009-D nickels usually fetch 50 cents to $1 apiece.
2009-S Nickel Value
It’s challenging enough finding 2009-P and 2009-D nickels in circulation, but it can feel next to impossible when you’re attempting to land a 2009-S nickel from pocket change!
Because they were struck at the San Francisco Mint only for collectors. The 2009-S nickels were sold in proof sets — which means none of these coins were officially distributed into circulation.
Modern proofs like the 2009-S nickel are made using polished blanks that are struck by specially prepared dies on high-tonnage presses. This helps to ensure that each coin is of impeccable quality.
The San Francisco Mint struck 2,179,867 nickels in 2009, and these are usually worth $3 to $5 apiece.
The most valuable 2009-S nickel was graded Proof-70 Deep Cameo and sold for $140 in 2022.
Rare 2009 Error Nickels To Look For
There are a few cool 2009 nickel errors out there worth keeping an eye out for!
- 2009 die break nickels — If you see a 2009 nickel with unusual, raised lines on them, you might have a die break — a type of coin struck by cracked dies. These are quite collectible and can sell for anywhere from $5 to $10… or more, depending on the size and location of the die break.
- 2009 off-center nickels — Find one of these and you could have a really valuable coin on your hands! While coins that are 5% to 10% off-center might be worth only $20 to $30, those that are around 50% off-center and still show a complete date could take more than $150.
- 2009 off-metal nickels — This is an especially rare type of error in which the Jefferson nickel dies struck something other than a nickel blank (or planchet) — either a penny or dime planchet, which are smaller in diameter than nickels. Such pieces can take hundreds of dollars, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a 2009 off-metal nickel error sell for anywhere between $300 and $500.
Do You Know The Grade Of Your Nickel?
To determine the true value of your 1949 nickel, you also 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:
I’m the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I’m a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I’m also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I’ve contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I’ve authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!