See Why Some 2011 Nickels Are Worth More Than $6,000 Apiece

by Joshua

Error Coins, Nickels, Pocket Change

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When I found out some 2011 nickels are worth thousands of dollars, I had to look twice to see if the one that recently turned up in my pocket change was one of them.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t!

But there really are some valuable 2011 Jefferson nickels worth thousands of dollars.

Today I’m going to explain which 2011 nickels you should be looking for — and why they’re worth so much money.

What Makes Some 2011 Jefferson Nickels So Valuable?

Jefferson nickels aren’t necessarily known for fielding any major rarities — certainly they don’t have any key dates that rise to the magnitude of the 1909-S VDB Lincoln penny or the 1916-D Mercury dime.

But it’s not necessarily in the date or mintmark combinations where the rarity of Jefferson nickels lies.

Look at any Jefferson nickel and you’ll find a portrait of President Thomas Jefferson on the “heads side” (obverse). The nickel debuted with a side profile of Jefferson as designed by sculptor Felix Schlag in 1938, but the 2011 nickels carry a front-facing design of the third United States president by James Franki. Turn over a 2011 Jefferson nickel to its “tails side” (reverse) and you’ll find an elevational view of Jefferson’s famous Virginia home known as Monticello.

The view of Monticello as seen on the Jefferson nickel was also designed by Schlag and debuted on the coin at the same time as the Jefferson bust. The Monticello design contains a lot of architectural detail, but sometimes these little intricacies don’t strike up all that well on coins.

That’s certainly a big problem with business strikes — the kinds of coins specifically designed for circulation, and the ones that turn up in everyday pocket change.

The steps leading up to the front door of Monticello are especially problematic. They aren’t fully struck on most Jefferson nickels, making Jefferson nickels that exhibit full step detail especially rare. In fact, there are some dates in the Jefferson nickels series for which there are no known examples with a Full Steps (also abbreviated “FS”) grade designation.

That’s not the case with the 2011 Jefferson nickel. Several specimens have been graded by the major third-party grading services with Full Steps details, but not nearly enough to satisfy the demand for these well-struck specimens.

The highest-graded examples are very few and far between, and when they’ve come up for auction, they have each sold for four-figure prices, as I’ll show you in a moment.

Collector U.S. coins? Then you’re going to need a coin magnifier and a copy of the U.S. Coin Grading Standards book. They are the two best tools that will help you determine the value of all your U.S. coins.

2011 Full-Steps Nickel Values

Let’s talk about those rare, valuable 2011 nickels worth big money!

They were struck at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints, and they carry either a “P” mintmark or “D” mintmark — just below the date on the obverse.

Check out these auction record prices for the business-strike 2011 Full Steps nickels:

  • 2011-P nickel with Full Steps details $2,640.00
  • 2011-D nickel with Full Steps details — $6,462.50

How To Tell If You Have A Full-Steps Nickel

I’ve covered the topic of Full Steps Jefferson nickels before in pretty deep detail to help you determine whether you have a Full Steps example of your own. But the long and short of it is if your 2011 nickel is worn, then it’s not a Full Steps nickel. Hard stop.

A circulated Jefferson nickel cannot not qualify as an FS specimen due to the wear on the coin, including the all-important steps on Monticello.

The only way you’d have a Full Steps Jefferson nickel is if it’s uncirculated.

You might also get lucky and acquire an uncirculated specimen that was just removed from a coin roll and carefully handed to you in change from a cashier. You could also buy rolls of uncirculated 2011 nickels and look for a Full Steps specimen in there.

A Full Steps Jefferson nickel must clearly exhibit 5 or 6 complete steps unbroken by wear, abrasions, softness in strike, or other imperfections.

How Much Is A 2011 Nickel Worth Today?

Can’t find a 2011 Full Steps nickel? Tough break!

Your nickel may still be worth more than face value, especially if it’s not worn:

  • 2011-P uncirculated nickel — worth 20 to 30 cents
  • 2011-D uncirculated nickel — worth 20 to 30 cents

Do you have a 2011-S proof nickel?

If you don’t know what that is, you might want to dig deeper on this topic. Proof coins are made with highly polished blanks (known as planchets) and struck by specially prepared dies on high-tonnage presses to help bring up every last detail — including those steps on Monticello!

Proof coins are sold directly to coin collectors inside of unique packaging to protect the coins.

The San Francisco Mint struck 1,673,010 examples of the 2011-S proof nickel for collectors. You can find these coins in 2011 proof sets.

You can also buy 2011-S proof nickels individually for around $3 to $5 apiece from a coin dealer.

TIP: I suggest buying the 2011-S proof nickel individually if you’re working on building a set of Jefferson nickels and just want the proof nickels for your collection. There’s really no need to spend extra money on an entire proof set if all you want is one coin from it.

A List Of 2011 Nickel Errors To Look For

Since I’m talking about the values of 2011 Jefferson nickels, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention what some valuable 2011 error nickels are worth.

Remember, errors and varieties are generally rare. You’re not supposed to be finding errors on every other coin you find! I say this because so many of the coins people show me with “errors” are simply damaged.

I’m sorry to break the news to you this way, but the lesson is to really know what an error is versus post-mint damage — so you can more expertly pick out the true errors among the coins you find.

That said, there really are some 2011 error nickels worth money that you could possibly find in spare change:

  • 2011 Off-Center Nickel — worth $20 to $30, or closer to $150 if it’s about 50% off center with a full date
  • 2011 Die Break Nickel — worth $5 to $20, depending on the size, location, and magnitude of the die crack
  • 2011 Clipped Planchet Nickel — worth $50 to $100, based on the size of the clip and amount of coin missing

Do you have a 2011 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!

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