Are Old Jefferson Nickels Worth Anything? How Easy Is It To Find A Rare Jefferson Nickel Today?

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The other day I found a 1938 Jefferson nickel in my change.

My initial thought was, “Wow… this is 70 years old. Surely it must be worth something.”

I think a lot of people tend to think that.



Nickels Are Common Coins In Pocket Change

It happens the most with nickels because they are the coin we receive in our everyday change that has gone the longest without any significant change to the design (other than special nickels — like the Westward Journey nickels).

Pennies changed in 1959. And all the other coins (dimes, quarters and up) either changed their design or at least went from being made of silver to steel after 1964.

Nickels though, have remained basically the same since 1938, when the Thomas Jefferson design (the Jefferson nickel) was introduced.

Alas, it tends to be that when a coin’s design is still current, the coins from that series stay pretty low in price. They generally don’t go up much in value until the design on the coin is changed.


How Much Are Jefferson Nickels Worth?

There are a few rare Jefferson nickels.

The ones to particularly watch for are the:

  • 1938-D nickel
  • 1938-S nickel
  • 1939-D nickel
  • 1950-D nickel

But even these are only worth $1 to $5 in the condition you will most likely find them in your change (which is to say, pretty worn down after 60 to 70 years of circulation).

If you happen to find them in nearly pristine (almost new) condition, they’re worth several times as much — anywhere from $3 to $25. (Any nickel prior to 1956 is worth several times its face value in this condition, by the way).

Either way… that’s a nice bit of change for a coin that only “cost” you 5 cents!


Which Of The Rare Jefferson Nickels Is The Most Common?

The 1950-D Jefferson nickel might be the most likely to find, since it is later than the others. It is worth $5, even in very worn condition.

The wartime nickels from 1942 to 1946 were made of 40% silver, so they are worth about $1 each. I assume that people have removed most of these from circulation, but there may be some still out there because of the way some people assume that nickels are only worth face value.


A Word About Mint Marks…

In case you’re not familiar with mint marks, Jefferson nickels were made at 3 different U.S. Mints: Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver.

Most nickels made in Philadelphia have a P somewhere on the design, while San Francisco nickels always have an S, and Denver nickels have a D.

Happy hunting and feel free to post any finds or questions here!


I've been a coin collector and a rare book and collectible dealer for over 15 years. My primary areas of interest are U.S. silver coins and older paper currency.

78 thoughts on “Are Old Jefferson Nickels Worth Anything? How Easy Is It To Find A Rare Jefferson Nickel Today?

  1. ihave been getting old nickles at work for the last couple of weeks and i havea 1954 nickle that has the 5 in the date that only pressed half of the 5. is this worth anything? i also have 1939, 1941, 1942, 1944, 1957, 1958 and a 1944 with a p over the monticeello on the back. are any of these worth anything. i run a cashregister at work and looking thru the coins is something i do to pass some time. the people i work with think im goofy cause this. i think its fun actually!

    1. Leblaux,

      As a coin collector, I agree — looking at coins IS fun! And it can pay off. Check for mintmarks on the back of your nickels –the mintmarks on pre-1965 Jefferson nickels are very tiny and just to the right of Monticello.

      A 1939-D or 1939-S are both worth $2 to $5 each in circulated grades (if your 1939 has a mintmark).

      Your 1944-P is a silver War nickel and is worth at least $1.

      The others are all worth 5 to 15 cents each and common.

      Good luck finding more of those old coins!

    2. You are not alone leblaux! I do the same thing! I also ask gas stations and book stores mostly if they have any gold or silver coins. That’s also a good way to increase a coin collection!

  2. I happen to come across a 1941 Nickel but it doesn’t have an “S”, “D”,or a “P”. Does that mean anything?

  3. I want to sell some old nickels and pennies. Around here…other than a FEW pennies…they are only willing to give you 2-3 cents for the wheaties. My nickels…other than the war nickels, they told me they aren’t worth anything but face value and just cash them in at the bank????? I have tons of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Should I just hold on to them until I move to a larger area?

    1. Hi, Dee —

      Yes, common wheat pennies that are worn are worth only a few cents each. The 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s nickels are worth hanging onto because they may (but no guarantee) increase in value in the future.

  4. I have a 1939 nickel and it does not have any d letter on it or anything else like that. What should I do with the nickel?

  5. i have a Jefferson 1945 S nickle it is worn but when you turn it around the other side is upside down (wear as most coins face the same direction) can this error give it more value?

    1. Hi Valerie, could you compare your coin with a more recent nickel? If you flip them side to side (like a book page), Monticello should point the opposite direction from Jefferson’s portrait. That’s normal on all modern US coins.

      If the top of Monticello and the top of Jefferson’s portrait point to the same edge of the rim you could have what’s called a rotated-die error, which could be worth a few dollars to a collector.

  6. My name is Kendrick. I have a 1946. Silver dime and a silver. 1954 nickel D here is my number so some can call me at 606-255-6060 and tell me how much they are worth

    1. It appears that there is significant damage to the coin in the area of Washington’s face; this would have come after the coin was struck.

  7. so I got a nickel that’s the size of a hole punch. it’s as if a shrink ray was taken to a normal 1985 Jefferson nickel. seriously. any chance you’ve heard of such a nickel? Is it valuable or maybe got lost from some special mini-coin set or something?

    1. Hi Smitty,

      you actually have a miniature replica coin designed for a doll set. These are pretty interesting to collect, and they do have a “tiny” amount of value in what is called the “exonumia” market.

      I’ve seen sets of tiny American doll playset coins go for between $1 and $5.

    1. 1964 D is sadly only worth face value. 1964 is the highest-mintage date for Jefferson nickels.

      The backstory is at that time dimes, quarters, and half dollars were being changed from 90% silver to clad composition. Huge numbers of them were withdrawn from circulation and melted. So many were withdrawn that stores and banks had trouble making change. As a stopgap until the new clad coins came out, the Mint went into overtime striking the only two non-silver coins then in use: pennies (bronze) and nickels (cupronickel). Nearly 3 billion 1964 nickels were struck, six times as many as the average in earlier years. So many were made that they still show up in change from time to time, 50 years later.

    1. Unfortunately, in that condition and without any minting errors, it’s probably only worth face value to 10 cents.

  8. I HAVE 1958, 1957, 1964, 1969, 1962, 1948, 1956, 1940 NICKELS ARE THEY WORTH ANY MONEY. WOULD A AUCTIONER BUY

    1. Hello, Annette —

      Without knowing the mintmarks or conditions of the nickels you listed above, I’d say that the minimum value for all pre-1960 nickels is 8 to 10 cents. Dates thereafter are generally worth face value if worn.


    1. Hi, Annette —

      The 1940-D Mercury dime is worth $3.50, and the 1946-D has a value of $2.25, for their intrinsic silver value.

      The 1966 dime, which is copper-nickel clad, is worth face value.

  9. I have a 1941 nickle, a 1935 E. Indian head nickle, a 1909 penny, a 1942 E walking statue of liberty, 1950 A $5.00, and a 1974 $20.00 any worth to any of these?

    1. Hi, Celeste —

      Here are approximate values for your pieces, assuming they exhibit typical wear —

      *1909 Lincoln cent (no VDB) $2.50 to $5
      *1935 Indian Head nickel, 75 cents to $1.50
      *1941 Jefferson nickel, 10 to 15 cents
      *1942 Walking Liberty half dollar (where are you finding the “E” on the coin?) $5 to $6
      *1950-A $5, $5.50 to $8
      1974 $20, $22 to $25


    1. Hi!

      Your 1941 Jefferson nickel was struck at the Philadelphia Mint. It’s worth 10 to 15 cents if worn.


    1. Hi, Curtis —

      A complete collection as in all regular-issue pieces made since 1938 plus all S-mint proofs? For the sake of accuracy, I’ll need to please know what you mean by full collection as there are several different thresholds for completing a Jefferson nickel set.

      Also, I’ll need to please know if all your coins are uncirculated, or if pieces made before, say, 1965, are in average circulated condition.

      I look forward to helping you determine how much your Jefferson nickel set is worth!


  10. I have all these nickels , the ones without a mint mark are the one that I can’t find it don’t have , what would they all be worth ??
    1948 nickel
    1964 D nickel
    1952 nickel
    1960 nickel
    1941 D nickel
    1953 D nickel
    1954 D nickel
    1939 nickel
    1940 nickel

    1. Hi, Noel —

      All except for the 1960 and 1964-D nickels are worth approximately 10 cents each if worn. The 1960 and 1964-D are worth face value.


  11. I’ve got several nickles from 1966-1981. These have all been in circulation. Some are “d” series. I also have several various coins that my dad had that I would like to see if any of them are of any value. There are several 50 cent pieces. What is the best way for me to find out their value? I also have some foreign coins.

    1. Hi, Jackie —

      Great questions. Let’s start with the nickels, which, based on the dates you provided, there are some occasional errors that occur that can increase the value of coins. However, unless your 1966-81 nickels have anomalies, they are worth face value.

      The half dollars might be worth something more; in general, any half dollar made before 1971 has silver content and is worth at least $2 with current silver values; those made before 1965 are worth about $5.50 and up.

      Foreign coins are *usually* worth a small amount, though silver pieces, older dates, and scarce pieces have some value. I know that’s a really vague answer, for which I apologize. I could provide more details on the foreign coins if I know which nations, denominations, and dates you’re asking about.

      As for the U.S. coins, I urge you to please refer to this link for more information: “US Coins Worth More Than Face Value”

      It discusses most of the U.S. coins from the 20th century worth more than face value.

      As always, I invite you to ask follow-up questions if you’d like!

      Good luck,

    1. Hi, Scott —

      You have a 1939 Jefferson nickel that was made in Philadelphia; the first “P” mintmark was used on the nickel in 1942. Worn examples of 1939 Jefferson nickels are worth 10 to 20 cents.


  12. That’s because the US entered WWII in December 1941 (Pearl Harbor). Metal shortages didn’t start to affect coin production until war production geared up. Nickels weren’t affected until late 1942 and cents kept their copper until 1943.

  13. Hi Sara, I’m guessing your “1803 nickel” has a picture of Thomas Jefferson on the front and the 1803 date is near the top of the back side. That would make it a Lewis and Clark Expedition commemorative nickel. 1803 is the date the expedition started. The coin’s minting date is 2004 and is in the usual place on the coin’s front.

    Unfortunately it’s not worth anything extra except as a conversation piece. Large numbers were minted and nearly all of them were taken out of change by collectors, history buffs, etc.

  14. Got a 1946 nickle from a coworker today. It’s in good condition. But I can’t seem to find the S, D, or P. Where is the. Mint marker usually located? Not really sure if it’s worth anything but hey who knows.

    1. Hi, Bethany —

      On most Jefferson nickels made before 1965, the mintmark is to the right of Monticello on the reverse. 1946 nickels made at the Philadelphia Mint don’t have the P mintmark, so if you don’t see a mintmark anywhere on your coin, it’s a Philadelphia piece. In well-worn condition, your coin is worth about 15 cents.


  15. Hey Josh 2 nights ago my family and I were moving 2 larger federal period furniture a Chippendale’s and I believe it’s called a Demi loon or something very old beautiful stored black walnut and the other curly maple hi boy and lowboy matching chest and the other a low boy dresser from our attic to have them appraised cleaned up professionally and what not and as were doing it deep deep inside of the demilune peas we found three colonial paper money bills interestingly enough to have them are hiring and Mary early colonial almost no uncirculated bills one of which has Benjamin Franklin’s name on it in red ink and I believe it’s one of his Anti-counterfeiting countermeasure ones Im assuming as such because on the lower bottom left side of the back it says “To counterfeit is to know true death” lol!! and its a VA 60 pounds Tea bill or trading bill with one side being a bunch of tobacco leaves pressed together patterns and the other side is three different colors and an amazingly Beautiful engraved sorta make-believe bank in the middle of nowhere on a hill or something kind of a scene its from 1769, now everything on the bill looks correct except all of the “s”‘s are f’s ?? which I’m not really sure what that entails or why..? lowercase letter “f”‘s replace all of the letter “s”‘s ?? which I’m not exactly sure why that is? But like where it says 69 it spells out the date and in the writing of 1769 in the word six, the letter “s” is replaced by a lowercase “f” instead of a normal letter s which is really weird to me but overlooking the entire bill all of the letters “s”‘s are replaced with letter “f”‘s but it still looks pretty cool in general and in really good condition except all of the ink that you would think that’s written on it should be black is actually a murky brown Rusty reddish brown color and the red is still red which is really weird so I don’t know what that is either but none the less interesting and the other is in almost totally mint condition looking Philadelphia printed 80 British pounds trading currency dollar bill that is so elaborate and incredibly intricate and beautiful and amazing with red ink and brown ink black ink with green ink even looks like a kinda blue too!! So many different colors front and back that’s amazing too just look at and an awesome kind of work of fine art of a bill and it’s really, really big too much larger than the 60 British pound Tea bill and it’s never ever so much as been dog ear folded ever in anyway but the Other one though has at least been in somebody’s hands a few times or at one point at least some and its dated July the 18th 1772 but the other bill or rather a note kind of thing we found is an official governmental smaller sized promisary note for the gainings to and of the rise to what was being pondered then I assume to be the American Revolutionary war but doesn’t say that exactly or atleast directly on the note itself and I can’t imagine that it would be either considering all the bad things from the British and the violence that was going on at the time so I can only assume it was a pretty hush-hush sort of thing but you can tell what it’s for or rather what it’s printed under the general consensus and acts unto and for. Now It says a bunch of stuff on it about France and the colonies the honor of our soon to be self owned free independent country due to this monetary Bond and money within, the supply and all of its pay back and interest to be insued and will be guaranteed by our new born country and its parent are we,..etc’s signed by five different people I don’t know any of their names at all and in Browning ink again with one being in red and is has a very elaborate printed stamped typed engraving again but a ton of writing on it as opposed to the other two actual money bills. It’s dated Sept. the 14th of 1774. And it was found with a broken wax seal cloth ring that I’m assuming was around it with a ribbon that now looks like it’s falling into bits lol!! But the actual seal itself is OK but it’s in a couple different chunky pieces stuck to the old nasty ribbon of course lol! But I want to get your expertise and opinion on them because I don’t know anything about this stuff at all and I’m going to also include some pictures of that 1802 half bust half cent Jefferson era coin we found down inside a very old slaves dummy waiter too and I told you about about three weeks ago, Ive just been really busy with work as of late and I am sorry. But plz let me know and thx so much for all of your time and effort Josh I really do appreciate it so much thanks ;). -Casey W.G. Rockenstein III

    1. Hello, Casey!

      Wow, this sounds like a very interesting find. Here’s what I suggest you do; if you can, please upload a photo of the notes and the 1802 half cent. The value of that coin could be very high — $50,000 plus — if it has a certain type of die variety. Whatever you do, please do NOT clean that coin. It will slash the value by half or more, I can assure you.

      As for the notes, I would need to see what type of pieces this may be. I might refer you to a note specialist if I can’t determine, as I’m far more knowledgeable in coins than early paper currency.

      I’m wishing you all the best on this exciting discovery.


      1. OMG!! You can’t be serious? Your not really serious, are you….?? $50,000!! Surely My God that coin is like in almost perfect old untouched condition with such a minor amount of normal wear its border line at least to me barely at all handled but completely free of almost zero damage it has no discoloration no cuts or pits, pock marks or slices or smashed edges at all. I mean it almost only has maybe a tiny wear down of its face surface but like against wool or the inside of a cotton pocket wear down with no actual physical damage other than the lady liberty herself have being a tiny bit worn in on her edges and cap but just a tiny amount you’d have to almost put it directly under a huge power magnifying glass to see that in itself or I would at least lol! but other than that on the back all the writing the branches and leaves all the letter edges all its negative space in between all things has been almost never touched and near zero if any ever wear. And the entire coins color is purely consistent no discoloring at all no corrosion, no rusting or metal damage at all and I know for a fact this coin has never ever been cleaned by anyone because it came directly out of the bottom of that dummy waiter which is as old as 1762 was this houses erection date and it being 1802 and the thickness of the layers of dust on top of it were so thick and old and so unreal at some layers caked and almost baked on top that you could tell that thing has been there probably since being dropped in 1802 and I literally wouldn’t doubt it at all! I’m thinking someone way, way back leaned over the dummy waiter to beget food from or to it and as they did the coin fell from say maybe a caught thick coats cuff or shirted cuff maybe from a top pocket as they leaned over the top floors dummy waiter’s opened door area and it went in where I now recently found it lol! And never been so much as seen again til now either. But this house has been in our family and family name since its conception and 1762 build. I now being its owner since the death of my late uncle 7 years ago now, have taken over the entire estate and all very old things within it and there is nothing in this big and very old creepy house that’s ever been altered or changed from the very old days of its origins I can assure you of. Being here is literally like walking back in time and I mean literally the feel of some of the old huge boarded floors the smells even the creaking of the old hard wood timber frame to the 4 different old grand stairways that snake through it all, the 6 huge enormous fire places and amazing carved mantels even the huge main kitchen’s old kettle vat and its titanic wood burning and coal burning fireplace and pit to the ornate wall panelings on every wall the federal eagle iron worn and leaded crystal door knobs to the even small slaves grave yard in the far back corner of the estate’s lot with 13 slaves that had passed in this old home’s service and ownership of. This place is literally filled to the brim and overflowing with federal colonial furniture to wood inlaid sleigh beds to the original chamber pots all the original iron worked candle stick holders in the walls of all of the 12 bedrooms to all the leaded crystal hand made chandeliers, even all the cobble stone brick with their flaking surfaces of the Jamestown Mason’s marks within them the house is made with to the solid Black walnut timber frames the house is made on to the blown glass original window panes which we still actually have almost all of stored neatly inside of protected slats in the upper trestle timbered attic area of the now; 3 car garage but then used to be, a 3 keystone arch way bricked; 3 dual tiered closing winter doored, 2 horse stall and a 3rd carriage storage area’s, upper loft area. But regardless I’ll make several really good pictures of the coin and get them up ASAP to you and I truly do apologize just have been so utterly busy with work, family and research as of late that I’ve have had almost zero time to do anything hardly ever or at all but will have them up for you ASAP. And once again Josh, thank you so very much for your time, effort and truly sage advise on it all my friend 😉 -Casey W.G. Rockenstein III

        1. Hi, Casey —

          THe best case scenario is that the 1802 half cent could be worth even more. The $50,000 would be if the 1802 cent is a special variety that has a reverse “tails side” design from 1800. Actually, a very high-grade example of that variety could be worth $75,000 or more. Bear in mind, that’s an outside chance. The “normal” 1802 half cent is worth from $500 for a very poor-quality specimen up to about $20,000 for a lightly circulated, nice example. Of course, this assumes the coin is authentic, which I’m quite sure yours is based on where you told me you found it.

          It sounds like you can trace the history of the house back to its earliest days — this is good for the provenance of that coin, too. Coin collectors who buy rare coins really enjoy knowing who has possibly owned the coin. The story about your family and the house — and where you found the coin — can definitely lend toward that. Please post photos when you can. However, I suggest getting this coin certified by a third-party coin encapsulation service such as PCGS, NGC, or ANACS when you can.


    1. Hello, Susan —

      The 1940-D Jefferson nickel is a relatively common coin, but it is still worth 10 to 15 cents, or a little more than face value.


    1. Hello, Gulinky —

      Here’s another article about old Jefferson nickels you might want to check out, too:


  16. Hi I have a couple of coins. I was wondering what they are worth.

    1. Hello, Stephany —

      The 1864 Indian Head cent with “Mike Wirth” stamp is an excellent example of a counterstamped coin most likely used as a token of some sort. I wish we could trace who Mike Wirth was. If we had an origin for the stamp, it could help increase the value. At this point, I’d suggest the coin is probably worth $10 to $20, based on similar pieces of that age and condition.

      The 1944 and 1945 Lincoln cents are each worth 3 to 5 cents, and the 1967 quarter has circulation wear and is worth face value.

      Thank you for your question and photos!

    1. Hi, Jenny —

      May I please see a photo of the 1997-P Matte Finish Jefferson nickel so I can see how worn it is?

      Thank you,

  17. My son found a 1941 nickel with what looks to be a bullet hole in it. Is this worth anything? I can email you a picture if you want to look at it. Thanks.

    1. Wow, Tiffany… that’s a sight to see! While from the numismatic perspective the (bullet? drill?) hole renders this coin damaged, it’s something I’d hang on to anyway because it’s really an unusual novelty. While 1941 nickels are usually worth 10 to 20 cents in this condition, the hole would bring its numismatic value down to essentially face value, but, again, this is something the collector in me would keep anyway… Just my two cents!

      Thank you for sharing this eye-popping find here!

  18. Here is the picture of the 1941 nickel with a hole in it. Is this worth anything?

  19. Hi there! I was going through my hubbys coin collection that was passed down from his grandmother and found this. I can’t figure out the hole in the back. Was this a mistake or manmade damage? And now i can’t figure out how to upload the picture.

    1. Hello, Christy —

      You can upload the photo by clicking on the tiny rectangular icon toward the bottom of the comment box. Do you see it? If you continue having an issue please let me know and I’ll try and assist as best I can.

      Thank you,

      1. Thanks for the quick answer Josh. I can’t figure out how to upload the photo. I am so sorry to be a bother.

        1. No bother, Christy! I’ve attached a mini screenshot with an arrow showing which button to click to begin the photo upload process. I hope this helps!

        2. Ah. Not sure how I missed that lol. Thanks Josh. Heree 3 pics of th are coin.


          2. Hi, Christy —

            This is some very severe post-mint damage that was created at least in part by a grinding machine of some sort. It’s unfortunately not worth any more than a nickel.


    1. Hello, Stephanie —

      Do you know what your coins are worth? If not, I suggest schooling yourself a bit on this so you’re not as likely to get taken advantage of by anybody looking to buy your coins.

      Here’s a rundown on what many U.S. coins are worth:
      Here’s info on how to find a good coin dealer:
      And this link leads you to a searchable, nationwide list of coin dealers who belong to the Professional Numismatists Guild:

      Please let me know if you need any further info, tips, or other help!

      Good luck,

  20. Woke up – practicing blues chords and found a 1956 (good condition) silver nickel!! Maybe a $5 discovery!

    1. Hey, Don!

      How did you determine it’s a silver nickel? How much does it weigh? If you’ve got any photos I would love to see them to help verify and provide suggestions as to what’s going on with the coin or error diagnostics.

      Cool discovery!

        1. Hey, Don!

          I’m afraid the photo didn’t come through…. Would you mind reposting it, please?


          1. sure! The paste photo does not appear just gives descrip -Screenshot_2019-01-29-11-17-36-1.jpeg
            Email me I can attach it.

          2. Hi, Don —

            All of my correspondence with The Fun Times Guide comments has to be done here in the forum; is the photo/screenshot 2 MB or less? If so, it should be able to upload, and I’m sorry for the inconvenience that it doesn’t seem to be. According to the file name, it’s a jpeg so it’s surely the correct format. Would you mind trying again, please. Thanks!



          4. Hi, Don —

            This appears to be a normal 1946 Jefferson nickel worth 8 to 10 cents in this grade. You said you believe it is silver? What does this coin weigh? The weight will give us a better idea on the planchet composition.

            Thank you,

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