Historical Values Of Jefferson Nickels: See How The Jefferson Nickel Value Has Changed Over The Years

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First struck in 1938, the Jefferson nickel continues to endure after more than 70 years in circulation.

Replacing the Buffalo nickel which ceased production that same year, the Jefferson nickel was proposed by the United States Mint, which held a contest to find a suitable design.

Felix Schlag submitted the winning design, which we see on our 5-cent coin to this day.


Changes To The Jefferson Nickel

Over the years, the Jefferson nickel has undergone a few modifications.

The first occurred in 1942, when the United States mint replaced the 75% copper and 25% nickel composition with a copper-silver-manganese alloy, allowing the nickel formerly in the coin to be used for World War II artillery production. So-called “Wartime” nickels were produced with the 56% copper, 35% silver, 9%  manganese alloy through 1945.

One way to tell Wartime silver nickels from regular Jefferson nickels is the placement of a huge mintmark over the dome of Monticello on the reverse of the coin. In fact, the P mintmark on 1942-1945 Wartime nickels was the first time the Philadelphia mint had ever used a mintmark on coins. This didn’t happen again until the production of Susan B. Anthony dollars began in 1979.

In 1966, the initials Schlag’s initials, FS, were first placed on the obverse of the coin, just under Jefferson’s bust. This would be the last change on the coin until the start of the Westward Journey commemorative designs in 2004.

These new designs, celebrating the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, included a new, right-facing bust of Jefferson in 2005, designed by Joe Fitzgerald. In 2006, a forward-facing bust of Jefferson, designed by James Franki, was implemented and has appeared since.

Concurrently during the obverse redesigns that occurred during 2004 through 2006, several new reverse designs were used as well. In 2004, depictions of a keel boat and Indian peace medal appeared during the first and second half of the year respectively. In 2005, an American bison consumed the reverse for the first 6 months of the year followed by a view of the Pacific coast emblazoned with the words Ocean in view! O! The joy!


Jefferson Nickel Values

While most Jefferson nickels are highly common and only worth a premium if in mint state condition, there are also several valuable, scarcer Jefferson nickels in existence.

The Jefferson nickel values below are from the 1965, 1985, and 2005 editions of A Guide Book of United States Coins, by R.S. Yeoman, and illustrate the increases (and, in some cases, decreases) in value for the more sought-after dates.

1938-D $4 (1965) $2.25 (1985) $2 (2005)
1938-S $6 (1965) $3.50 (1985) $3 (2005)
1939-D $15 (1965) $9 (1985) $12 (2005)
1939-S $5.50 (1965) $2.30 (1985) $4 (2005)
1950-D Uncirculated $22 (1965) $12 (1985) $8.50 (2005)
1951-S Uncirculated $6.75 (1965) $3 (1985) $1.50 (2005)

*Unless otherwise noted, all values are for coins in Extremely Fine grade.


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!

13 thoughts on “Historical Values Of Jefferson Nickels: See How The Jefferson Nickel Value Has Changed Over The Years

  1. hi josh!

    Cant find other place to post this coin.. heres a Die Chip error on DATE 2009 in a 5 cent??




    1. Hey, Rodrigo!

      YES… Definitely some type of die break/chip. NICE find… Definitely a keeper.


      1. Thanks Josh!

        Learning fast and recognizing more errors than before 😀 Im little confused about this colombian coin, if its MD or a real DDie.. can u take al look? still cant catch it… lol




        1. Hey, Rodrigo —

          I’m not an expert on coins from outside the U.S. and Canada, but this may indeed be a doubled die… That’s some nice definition. Cool find!


          1. thanks JOsh for all answers in other posts too 😀 will keep looking eheheh! vibes!

          2. You’re so welcome! Talk to you later!

            Have an excellent day,

          3. Hi!!! look what i found in a venezuela coin. Can you tell me what is this error die?? can´t tell how it got there…

          4. Hi, Rodrigo —

            I’m not too educated on coins made outside of the United States and Canada so in this case I don’t know if what we are seeing here is a common error or striking problem for this coin. However, from what I can tell it looks like this might be a doubled die based on the mechanics of some of the doubling (such as in the neck of the bust on the obverse). This piece might be worth having evaluated in-hand by a specialist who knows about die/variety characteristics of Venezuaelan coins.

            Best wishes,

          5. wanted DDies now i found 2… 😀 im in Dominican REpublic so kinda difficult to find a venezuela guy even more with the politics problems… tsx josh!!!

  2. Currently i’m having the 1939 Jefferson Nickel if anyone is interested you can contact me on my e-mail : [email protected]

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