The mintage number of a coin simply refers to how many coins were struck by the mint. It does not, however, necessarily refer to how many coins still exist.
Proof coins represent the finest, the very best, that any U.S. Mint has to offer. You see, proof doesn’t refer to a particular grade. Rather, proof refers to the result when a coin is manufactured in a special way. Proof coins vary greatly from their business strike — regular, circulation-quality — counterparts and they take a different path in the Mint.
Ironically, silver nickels have no nickel in them… just silver. So most Jefferson war nickels are worth their ‘spot value’ — that is, the amount of money the metal inside the coin is worth. Here’s how to check current silver prices and find out how much your silver war nickels from 1942 to 1945 are worth.