All collectibles draw their value from our innate inclination to associate certain items with related important events, thus transferring our sentimental connection with the event to the object.
The 1943 nickel is no different in this regard.
While all Jefferson nickels (produced from 1938 till 2004) are nostalgic for their commemoration of founding father and third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, the issue from 1943 takes things a step further.
With the entry of the US into the war, copper (for wiring telephone lines and electronics) and nickel (for producing artillery) both became critical resources on the war front, and the United States could not afford to continue dumping a significant portion of their annual supply into coin production.
In 1943, the United States—and the rest of the World—were in the heat of World War II, and as such, the government was scraping to secure more funds for the war effort. Eventually, this penny-pinching got to the mint and affected the coins produced in those years.
Consequently, the U.S. Congress authorized the mint to produce some coins with less copper and no nickel for at least the duration of the war.
This effort produced an array of war coins, including the 1943-45 nickel, dime, penny, and half dollar, all featuring different compositions from their predecessors.
After experimenting with a few alloy types, the U.S. Mint settled on a combination alloy of 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese for the Nickel. This unique alloy proved effective at satisfying counterfeit detectors in vending machines and other similar coin scanners.
Like all war coins, the war Nickel series, including the 1943 Nickel, are historical relics from one of the most important American and World history periods.
As a result, these coins are extremely popular amongst the general populace and (especially amongst) coin collectors.
So, how much is a 1943 Nickel worth?
Due to the high mintage of the 1943 Nickels (the highest minted of all the wartime Nickels,) these coins are not that rare and, as such, attract relatively lower prices when compared to other war Nickels.
Expect a price between $2 and $6 for your 1943 Nickel. Circulated, worn nickels typically retail for $2 (around the melt value of the silver the coin contains) or under; good quality uncirculated nickels will trade in the $5-$6 range, while rare pristine coins with a highly-rated condition can reach up to $20.
1943 Nickel Mintage
With the 1943 Nickel, the U.S. Mint produced a significantly higher amount of coins compared to what was obtainable in the preceding years. This measure helped to stave off collectors from hoarding the coins either for the value of their metals or for their sentimental value.
Consequently, even today, a considerable amount of circulated and uncirculated 1943 nickels are available to collectors, which works to cap the coin’s value potential.
For the 1943 nickel, the U.S. Mint struck 390,519,000 coins, with the bulk of these nickels coming from the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints.
|Mint||Mint Mark||Total Mintage|
The Mint did something different with the mint marks for the 1943 Nickel.
The switch from nickels containing 90% silver to ones containing a combination alloy of 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese was only meant to be temporary: for the duration of the war.
Hence, the mint initially considered a plan to sort them out and withdraw them from circulation after the war.
To make them easier to sort out, the Mint discarded the standard tiny mint mark and opted instead for a much larger mint mark. This bolder mint mark graced a prominent position (directly underneath the “E Pluribus Unum” and squarely above the Monticello drawing that was the main graphic on the coin’s reverse) on the reverse of the coin.
Furthermore, all 1943 Nickel struck in Philadelphia come bearing the “P” mint mark. Before that year, Philadelphia Mint coins were all shipped with a mint mark.
Consequently, the 1943-P Nickel is the first coin to bear the “P” mint mark and one of the few coins with the mint mark on all its iterations.
1943 Nickel Value
Like with most U.S. coins, the base value for 1943 nickel stems from the market price of its total metal composition.
The 1943 nickel contains silver, one of the more valuable coin metals (partly due to the meteoric rise in the market value of silver over the decades since.) However, since the 1943 nickel only contains 35% of its value is significantly lower than older coins with a 90% silver composition.
The melt value of the silver content of the 1943 coin amounts to approximately $1, setting the base price for this coin. Even if your 1943 coin is worn beyond easy recognition, you should still get at least $1 for it.
However, for coins with even halfway decent quality, you should easily get above $2.
The high demand for war nickels amongst collectors means that, despite the high supply of these coins, most will easily sell for higher than their base silver melt price.
Nevertheless, for a coin this abundant to truly catch a collector’s attention, you must have one in seriously good condition.
If you have a circulated coin in good condition, you should easily get between $2.5 to $3, which applies to all three mint variants of the 1943 Nickel. 1943 nickels in uncirculated condition can easily reach $6-$7, while the highest grade coins typically sell for $20 or higher.
Refer to the table below for an approximate estimate of the market value of the 1943 Jefferson Nickel. Use this chart as a general guide for improving your decision-making when buying or selling these coins.
|Coin Type⬇\Average Quality➜||MS 55-59||MS 60
|MS 61-64||MS 65||MS 66 or Higher|
1943 Error Coins
Almost every U.S. coin in existence has a handful of error specimens that can attract a considerable price premium over the regular mint, and the 1943 Nickel is no different.
During coin production, some common valuable coin errors that can occur include
- off-color coins that exhibit an abnormal color variation
- off-center coins created from a misalignment of the coin and the die during striking, which causes some missing elements from the coin design
- Die crack coins caused from worn dies which imprints bumps and ridges on the coins
- Oddly-sized or wrong detailed coin caused by coins struck on a wrong planchet
- Type II blank coins that ship without having their edges raised to create the coin rim
Error coin prices can vary considerably depending on how much collector demand exists for that specific error type.
With the 1943 nickel, two notable error types—the double eye error coin and the 3 over 2 error coin—have risen to the top of collectors’ watchlists over the years, and as such, they often bring in very attractive prices.
1943 Nickel with Doubled Eye Error
The double eye 1943 nickel is an error coin that is quite easy to spot. Close-up viewing of the Jefferson face on this coin shows a very slight impression of the second eye in front of the correctly placed one.
This error resulted from a slight displacement of the coin during one of the multiple impressions of the die on the planchet, creating a second, overlapping eye on the Jefferson face.
To inspect your coin for this error, you should use a strong light source and a magnifying glass to get a more precise view of the Jefferson face. If this error is present in your coin, you should easily detect it.
While this error went unnoticed for the first few years of the coin circulation, it is now a well-known error and one of the most in-demand varieties of the 1943 nickel.
Circulated 1943 Nickels with Doubled Eye Error in good condition can easily fetch at least $60 on the open market. The uncirculated version of this error coin can sell for between $100 and $3000, depending on its grade.
1943 Nickel with 3 Over 2 Error
The 1943 Nickel with 3 Over 2 Error results from another common coin striking error, the overdate.
An overdate stems from the unintentional punching of an already used die with a new date while it still has an older date. This error results in coins where the date is distorted with one or more digits from the old date superimposed on the new one.
With the 3 Over 2 Error 1943 nickel, the number “3” in 1943 is minted over the number “2” from the previous year.
Consequently, this error nickel features a slightly extended lower curl on the “3” characteristic of a “2”
Experts estimate that around a thousand of the 3 Over 2 Error 1943 nickels exist. With this limited supply, it is no surprise that even worn specimens of this coveted error coin can easily fetch over $100 on the open market.
For higher graded coins, you can expect prices in the $300 to $10,000+ range, depending on the coin’s condition and grade.