One thing that attracts collectors to any item is its rarity — if the item is so hard to find, it holds a significant value. Jefferson nickels are one of the rarest finds today and hold much value. So, if you have one sitting idly, it might just be one of those valuable collector coins.

How do you know if your Jefferson nickel has value? If you’re perplexed about this, you’re at the right place. Join us as we discuss the US nickel value.

This detailed guide clearly explains the Jefferson nickels’ value today. We’ll highlight the top 10 most valuable Jefferson nickels and their worth. We’ll also discuss some errors that add more value to the coins.

Summary/History: Are Jefferson Nickels Valuable?

Yes, Jefferson nickels are one of the most valuable rare coins ever collected. The highest-ever auctioned Jefferson coin is the 1954-S MS 64 grade, sold at $35,250. However, to understand its value, we’ll briefly discuss its history.

The Jefferson nickels have a long history dating as far back as 1938. On the 5-cent coins, you’ll see the portrait of Thomas Jefferson—the 3rd US President—designed by Felix Schlag. The nickels were introduced to replace the Buffalo nickel, which had been in circulation since 1913.

Before the Jefferson nickel emerged, the Mint held a design competition in 1938. The Mint specified that the artist would need to include the image of Thomas Jefferson and his home in Monticello. Ultimately, Felix Schlag won the contest, and his work emerged as the chosen design for the first new nickels produced in October 1938.

All three US Mints—Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco—struck the new coin. The Jefferson nickels were released on October 3, 1938, and nearly 12 million were in circulation by November 15, 1938. Since then, different Jefferson nickel designs have emerged.

Even though the US Mint still produces the coin today, some incredibly rare finds exist. This is what has made the Jefferson nickels of interest to collectors. In other words, if you have 1980s nickels worth money, they’re likely those that are hard to come by

Top 3 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels

Finding the most value for your old coins is important, considering many people make hundreds and thousands of dollars off their coins.

Here are the top 3 highest value Jefferson nickels today:

  1. 1954-S (MS67 FS) Jefferson Nickel (The Most Expensive Jefferson Nickel)

The 1954 Jefferson nickel has taken the position of the most valuable nickel in the Jefferson collections. The San Francisco mint raked a whopping $35,250 at an auction in July 2020. An earlier auction of a 1954 coin valued it at $30,550.

  1. 1969-D (MS65 FS) Jefferson Nickel (The Rarest Jefferson Nickel)

This 1969 design is considered one of the most valued pieces and was sold at $33,600 in 2021. The MS65 grade is of fine quality and a rare find.

  1. 1942-D D Over Horizontal D (MS64) Jefferson Nickel (The Most Expensive, Low-Grade Jefferson Nickel)

An error coin that’s considered incredibly rare; sold for a staggering $32,200 at a 2006 auction; has the lowest MS grade on our list.

Top 10 Rare and Valuable Jefferson Nickels

Top 10 Rare and Valuable Jefferson Nickels
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Do you have a Jefferson nickel? If you’re wondering how valuable they are, we’re here to help.

There are many valuable US coins, and you can even find coins that make the top 50 most valuable Jefferson nickels. However, we’ve provided only the top 10 rarest and most valuable Jefferson nickels today. Our selections are based on the coins with the highest auction prices and best grade.

1. 1954-S Jefferson Nickel

1954-S Jefferson Nickel
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  • Mint: San Francisco
  • Auction Price: $35,250
  • Grade: MS67 (FS)

This Jefferson nickel is considered one of the most expensive coins ever sold at an auction. The 1954 San Francisco nickel was sold at $35,250 at an auction in July 2020. The MS67 nickel was estimated to be sold at $40,000 by the Collectors Universe. A lucky bidder, however, managed to snag it at $35,250.

It raked in this high amount because of its rare quality. With a PCGS-assigned grade of 67, this nickel has the finest condition ever discovered.

It’s not quite common to find a 1954 coin of this quality. Two years before this high-sale auction, a similar quality—but this time an MS 66 grade—was sold for $30,550.

2. 1969-D Jefferson Nickel

1969-D Jefferson Nickel
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  • Mint: Denver
  • Auction Price: $33,600
  • Grade: MS65 (FS)

This Denver Jefferson nickel is considered a gem with its MS65 grading done by PCGS. It’s one of the finest qualities of the 1969 Denver mintage ever found. Notably, it had all its details intact and clear on the coin’s reverse.

In 1969, most of the coins weren’t in the best condition. However, this particular one sold in August 2021 for $33,600.

3. 1942-D D Over Horizontal D Jefferson Nickel

1942-D D Over Horizontal D Jefferson Nickel
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  • Mint: Denver
  • Auction Price: $32,200
  • Grade: MS64 (FS-027)

This mintmark error nickel is highly valuable and especially rare — it’s believed that not more than 100 of this horizontal error generally exists in the 1942 Jefferson nickel series. Notably, the 1942 Jefferson nickel had an error with a D over Horizontal D. The D mintmark had been punched twice, causing this error.

The coin was sold for $32,200 in January 2006 at a Heritage Auctions event.

4. 1964 Jefferson Nickel

1964 Jefferson Nickel
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  • Mint: Philadelphia or San Francisco
  • Auction Price: $31,200
  • Grade: SP68 (FS)

The 1964 Jefferson nickel was among a Special Mint collection. It was specifically produced for collectors, and the 1964 variety is especially rare.

The valuable nickels from 1964 mints are few, as only 20–50 of these coins were made at the time. The SP68 grading was done expertly, and only five others have been found. However, their quality isn’t as excellent as this piece that sold in August 2021 for $31,200.

5. 1940 Reverse of 1938 Jefferson Nickel

1940 Reverse of 1938 Jefferson Nickel
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  • Mint: Philadelphia
  • Auction Price: $28,750
  • Grade: PR68 (FS-091)

The 1940 Jefferson nickel came in two unique designs. It had the old 1938 reverse and 1940 reverse designs on it.

It’s an incredibly rare find and even rarer than the 1938 coin with the 1940 reverse. Considering it’s a proof coin, it was graded PR68 by the PCGS.

This Jefferson nickel sold for $28,750 in January 2011 and is the only one ever found.

6. 1939 Jefferson Nickel

1939 Jefferson Nickel
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  • Mint: Philadelphia
  • Auction Price: $26,400
  • Grade: MS68 (FS)

The 1939 reverse design is one of the rarest finds. About 45% of these coins were in circulation, and finding them in excellent quality is rare.

This particular coin was graded MS68 by PCGS. The one-of-a-kind coin is highly sought after by collectors, selling for $26,400 at an auction in August 2019.

7. 1945-D Jefferson Nickel

1945-D Jefferson Nickel
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  • Mint: Denver
  • Auction Price: $25,000
  • Grade: MS68 (FS)

This 1945 Jefferson nickel was sold at an online auction, eBay precisely. Graded MS68 by PCGS, it remains one of the best quality ever found.

In October 2021, this rare coin with eye-catching color went to the highest bidder for an impressive $25,000. This is one of the most notable auctions, especially as most of these coins are usually sold at specialist auctions.

8. 1953-S Jefferson Nickel

1953-S Jefferson Nickel
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  • Mint: San Francisco
  • Auction Price: $24,000
  • Grade: MS65 (FS)

This Jefferson nickel is rare, but what makes the 1953 coin stand out is that the dies wore out. It was in circulation, and you hardly find any with this MS65 quality.

The PCGS has certified only 24 of these coins, and only three of the coins were of premium quality and referred to as gems. This 1953-S Gem sold at a coin specialists Heritage auction for $24,000 in January 2019.

9. 1939 Doubled Monticello Jefferson Nickel

1939 Doubled Monticello Jefferson Nickel
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  • Mint: Philadelphia
  • Auction Price: $23,500
  • Grade: MS67 (FS)

Featuring a double image of Monticello, this 1939 Jefferson nickel is another valuable coin. Also, the “Five Cents” inscription on the coin has double lines.

Apart from being properly graded and having a fine quality, the error on the coin is incredibly rare. This explains why it sold for $23,900 in September 2019 at an auction. There have so far been only three of these errors seen in the 1939 Jefferson nickel.

10. 1939 Reverse of 1940 Jefferson Nickel

1939 Reverse of 1940 Jefferson Nickel
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  • Mint: Philadelphia
  • Auction Price: $23,500
  • Grade: MS68 (FS)

In 1939, the Philadelphia Mint decided to produce a Jefferson nickel with two different dies on its reverse. It had one die from the 1938 nickel and included the new design to be used the following year. This particular coin has the 1940 design on the reverse side.

The steps on the Monticello are straighter and more detailed, unlike the 1938 design. It takes extreme luck to come across one with a 1938 reverse design.

The 1940 reverse, graded MS68 by PSGS, is of excellent quality. So far, it’s the only MS68 Jefferson nickel that’s been found, as not many have been in any finer condition.

This Jefferson nickel was sold for $23,500 at an auction in February 2014.

Jefferson Nickel Value Guide: Identification, Variations, and Errors

Jefferson Nickel Value Guide Identification Variations and Errors
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In this section, we’ll detail what you should know before you put up your valuable Jefferson coins for sale or purchase one. As we mentioned earlier, the Jefferson nickel was first produced in 1938 and has experienced continuous production to date. This begs the question: how do you know you’re carrying a valuable Jefferson coin in your pocket?

The best way is to understand the different variations of the Jefferson coins, examine the condition of your coin, and possibly grade it. You can make thousands from a successful sale of this collector’s item.

Jefferson Nickels Key Dates

Here are the important Jefferson dates to be in the know of, as well as their corresponding mint marks (where applicable):

Year Mint Mark
1964 /
1964 D
1938 /
1950 D
1952 D
1952 S
1954 D
1954 S
1962 D
1963 D

Variations of the Jefferson Nickel

The three US Mints—San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Denver—commenced the production of the Jefferson nickel in 1938. You’ll find different types of these valuable coins today, from the extremely rare to the common nickels. To know the value of your coin, you must first identify its type.

Here are some of the different variations of the Jefferson nickels:

  1. Nickel-Copper Alloy

There are nickel-copper alloy coins that have a composition of 25% nickel and 75% copper. This metal was what was in use as far back as the time of the Shield nickel in 1866. The nickel-copper alloy is durable, and this coin was sturdy for circulation.

The three US Mints made the nickel-copper variety. Here’s how to identify the Jefferson nickels from the three US Mints.

A. San Francisco Mint Jefferson Nickel

The San Francisco mint made the fewest of the nickel-copper alloy nickels. They struck the Jefferson nickels between 1938 and 1964 and made only a little over 230 million coins. Due to the low mintage, the San Francisco Jefferson nickels are quite rare.

If you have a San Francisco Jefferson nickel, you can identify it with its mint mark. It has an “S” on all its nickel-copper Jefferson nickels. The small “S” is mainly found on the coin’s reverse at the right of Monticello by the rim.

The rarest production they made was the 1938 Jefferson coins at 4 million. This coin is worth more than its face value even if you have the circulated condition.

B. Denver Mint Jefferson Nickel

The production was slow between 1938 and 1942, with a little under 120 million nickel–copper coins. However, in the subsequent years, the Denver Mint increased the production of the coins between 1960 to 1964.

This mint made the largest number of nickels, even when you put together the San Francisco and Philadelphia nickels. The nickel has a “D” mint mark on the Denver Mint, like the San Francisco coin’s “S.” The mint mark was placed on the right of the Monticello by the rim.

The rarest of the Denver Jefferson nickels is the 1950 coin, with only 2.5 million struck. If you own this coin, it’s highly valuable.

C. Philadelphia Mint Jefferson Nickel

Between 1938 and 1964, the Philadelphia Mint made over 2.7 billion nickel-copper coins. The only rare find is the coins in the highest condition. You won’t find any mint mark on the Philadelphia nickel-copper coins between 1938 and 1968.

The only Jefferson nickel series with the lowest production was the 1955 nickel, with just 7.8 million.

  1. Silver Alloy Nickels

These coins were made between 1942 and 1945. They’re unique and, for this reason, are sought after by collectors.

The silver alloy has a composition of 35% silver, 56% copper, and 9% manganese. The silver Jefferson nickels can be identified by their large mintmarks.

The value of the circulated silver Jefferson nickels is tied to the price of silver. Most of the coins in circulation were sold in roll quantities — for instance, 40 or more.

Let’s examine the different variants of the silver alloy Jefferson nickels.

A. San Francisco Mint Silver Alloy Jefferson Nickel

The silver coins from the San Francisco mint have the large “S” mint mark. The mint struck over 217 million Jefferson coins, and today you can get them for a premium value because of the value of silver.

B. Denver Mint Silver Alloy Jefferson Nickel

This variety has a large “D” mint mark to indicate it’s from the Denver Mint. The mint did not produce the silver coins in 1942, but they made over 84 million nickels after that.

C. Philadelphia Mint Silver Alloy Jefferson Nickel

Even though the Philadelphia mint didn’t include mint marks in the nickel-copper copper variety, there’s one in the 1942 silver Jefferson nickel. The large “P” mint mark sits over the Monticello of the silver coin. The Philadelphia mint struck over 567 million silver coins and remained in circulation until the 60s.

What Are the Valuable Jefferson Nickel Errors to Look Out For?

What Are the Valuable Jefferson Nickel Errors to Look Out For
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One factor that adds to Jefferson nickels’ value is errors. Many errors have been identified in the Jefferson nickels over the years. Knowing these errors will help you determine your coin.

The following table highlights the key Jefferson nickel errors and their corresponding values:

Type Error Value
1945-S S Over D $30–$100
955-D: D over S $40–$100
1943 P Doubled Die $100–$700
1943 P 3 over 2 $250–$750
1939 P Double Monticello $200–$1,000

The following paragraphs discuss the important Jefferson nickel errors and varieties list:

  1. Double Die Error

One of the errors that are popular among the Jefferson nickels is the double die error. For instance, one is visible in the 1939 Doubled Monticello coin that sold for $23,500 at a 2019  auction.

It’s easy to detect this error, especially when you look at the reverse side of the coin. The inscriptions “Monticello” and “Five Cents” appear twice on the coin.

Depending on the condition, this coin is worth between $50 and $500. However, it can be worth more in premium quality or uncirculated condition.

  1. Mintmark Error

It’s also rare to find a mint mark error on the Jefferson nickels. You can get value for a coin with a rare error — for instance, the 1942-D D Over Horizontal D sold for $32,200 at a 2006 auction. The double-punched mint mark was extremely rare, hence its value. Mintmark errors can be worth about $50 or be sold for over $2,000 or more if uncirculated.

  1. Date Error

If you have a Jefferson nickel with a date error, it’s possibly worth more than its face value. For instance, a 1943-P 3 Over 2 error is an incredibly rare variant of the Jefferson nickel series. This over-date error shows a faint “2” below the “3” on the date.

This type of error can be worth $50 or up to $300 in circulated conditions. However, it’ll be worth more if you have this silver Jefferson nickel in uncirculated condition.

Deciphering the Value of Your Jefferson Nickels

Proven ways to identify nickels worth money are via their date, mint mark, and, better still if you grade them. When you have your coin graded, you can understand its value.

You can also compare your coins with the top 10 most valuable nickels ever sold. This way, you can know if you’re holding a valuable coin. The most valuable Jefferson nickel to have graced specialist auctions is the 1954-S MS67 FS which sold for $35,250 at a 2020 auction.

The value of Jefferson nickels is conditional on their current state. In other words, it’s considered valuable if you have a coin in a Good, Fine, or Extremely Fine mint state. Depending on the Jefferson nickel’s condition, you can get between $50 and $2,000 or more.

Even though there are many valuable Jefferson nickels, the earlier coins are often more expensive. However, this doesn’t apply in all cases.

FAQ

What’s the most valuable Jefferson nickel ever sold?

The most valuable Jefferson nickel ever sold is the PCGS-graded 1954-S MS67 (FS) which sold for $35,250 in 2020. It’s one of the rarest finds and was among the most valuable nickels in circulation.

Where’s the mint mark located on Jefferson nickels?

The Jefferson nickels have a mint mark on the coin’s reverse side near the Monticello by the rim. The Philadelphia Mint, however, does not have a mintmark on its coin except for its 1942 silver Jefferson nickel variety.

What years of the Jefferson nickel series are the most valuable?

The 1954-S Jefferson nickel tops the list, while there are other coins like the 1969 and the 1964 Jefferson nickel. Generally, the most notable ones are the rarest and the coins with the best quality.

Are there valuable circulated Jefferson nickels?

Yes, you can get value for a circulated Jefferson nickel. If you have one in good, fine, or extremely fine quality, it’s worth more than its face value.

You can sell your circulated Jefferson nickel for as low as $50 to $500 or more depending on its condition. Also, if the coin has a unique error like a double die, date error, or mintmark error, it can be worth thousands of dollars.

Final Thoughts

There are still many valuable nickels in circulation, but these are the rarest finds, with the 1954-S Jefferson nickel topping the list. Your old coins might just be among the market’s top 25 most valuable Jefferson nickels.

Now that you know the value of the Jefferson nickels, you can search your old coins for them. On finding one in decent condition, you can sell it for a great price online or at specialist auctions — up to hundreds or thousands of dollars if you’re lucky.

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