15 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels: Complete Price Guide

The 15 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels: Complete Price Guide

Everett Millman
By Everett Millman
Published January 23, 2020
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Below is a list of the most valuable Jefferson nickels, presented in ascending order.

Decades of experience from numismatic experts informed the research for this list. The images and explanations are a great way to learn more about modern coin collecting!

All values are for coins grading Mint State 65 (MS65). Higher grade examples will exceed these prices.

1. 1994-P (Special Frosted Matte Uncirculated): $75 in MS65

This was the first frosted matte finish coin issued in the Jefferson series.

The finish gives the coin a beautiful matte appearance that is the result of sandblasting. Small sand particles impart a "frosty" look to the surface.

Most proof coins and special mint specimens from the U.S. Mint were produced with a similar style of matte finish before the mid-20th century.

2. 1955-D (D Over S): $100 in MS65

This is an example of an overpunched mintmark. As the rest of this list will reveal, it's not a particularly uncommon type of error.

In the photo above, you can see the faint shadow of an "S" behind the outline of the "D" mintmark. It is found on the right side of the reverse.

3. 1954-S (S Over D): $100 in MS65

The "S over D" variety of the 1954-S is another example of a mintmark error. You will typically find the bottom of a "D" jutting out from below the "S."

Back then, branch mints would simply stamp over an existing mintmark on a die when necessary. Circumstances such as a tight production schedule or a worn-out die might have forced a mint to do so.

4. 1941-P, 1942-P (each): $100 in PR65

Each of these coins were pre-war proofs. They were made by the mint prior to the U.S. getting involved in World War II.

At auction, they tend to garner similar prices.

As proofs, only tens of thousands were minted rather than tens of millions. This relative scarcity supports the higher price.

5. 1939-D: $125 in MS65

By contrast to the last entry, the 1939-D nickel is a regular circulation issue.

So why is it so valuable? It has the lowest mintage (3,514,000) of any standard-issue within the Jefferson nickel series. You can consider it a "key date" for collectors.

6. 1938-P, 1939-P, 1940-P (each): $130 in PR65

This group includes the earliest proofs in the series. The observation earlier about a much lower original mintage applies.

You can combine these three coins with the 1941 and 1942 issues to make a complete set of pre-war proofs.

7. 1942-P (35% silver): $200 in PR65

The proof version of the 1942-P Jefferson nickel is distinct from the other early proof coins.

During WWII, nickels were briefly struck from an alloy of 35% silver. Other metals had to be rationed as part of the war mobilization.

These silver "war nickels" are distinguished by the placement of the mintmark above Monticello on the reverse design. Non-silver nickels put the mintmark to the right of the building.

The usual mintmark location was changed beginning in 1968, moving it to the rim of the obverse design.

8. 1997-P (Special Frosted Matte Uncirculated): $265 in MS65

This is the second—and sole other—frosted matte issued in the series. You'll notice it has a considerably higher value than the 1994 version.

That's because the 1997 issue had a limited mintage of only 25,000. Compare that to 167,703 minted for its predecessor.

9. 1949-D (D Over S): $520 in MS65

Like its 1942 counterpart, this coin features another overpunched mintmark.

Numismatic insiders often evaluate an error coin's rarity by researching two areas:

  • How many existing coins with the error are known so far?
  • How many coins were struck by the die that had the error?

Accurate data for these two questions is not always forthcoming. A lot of sleuthing may be required! Values are based on the best possible estimates.

10. 1943-P (Doubled Eye): $670 in MS65

Doubling errors are typically some of the most well-known and easy to notice visually.

Yet as the image above shows, it's not an especially recognizable error with the naked eye.

The 1943-P is also a silver war nickel, adding to its appeal.

11. 1943-P (3 Over 2): $725 in MS65

Here is another variety of the 1943-P 35% silver nickel. The "3 Over 2" or "3/2" variety is an example of what is often called an overdate error.

Usually, it was easier for the mint to replace one digit of the date rather than use a whole new die. However, in this case, the entire date (all four digits) has been stamped over the previous year.

12. 1945-P (DDR): $845 in MS65

Like the spooky "Doubled Eye" nickel, this is another doubled die error. It appears on the reverse design. (It's also the last year silver nickels were produced.)

The most famous doubled die variety on a U.S. coin is the 1955 Lincoln cent.

13. 1971-S (No S): $1,050 in PR65

Proof Jefferson nickels were only minted in San Francisco in 1971.

However, some 200 proofs were struck without the "S" mintmark. This is a tricky "error by omission."

Such errors have cropped up on other denominations, as well. One prominent example is the 1922-D "No D" penny that's missing its intended mintmark.

14. 1939-P (Double Monticello): $1,050 in MS65

Monticello is the iconic estate designed by Thomas Jefferson. It appears on the reverse design of all Jefferson nickels, with the exception of the Westward Journey subset (2004–2005).

The doubling effect is on the word "MONTICELLO" and other inscriptions (shown above), not on the building itself

15. 1942-D (D Over Horizontal D): $10,000 in MS65

The strange horizontal alignment of the "D" (above) is difficult to miss once you see it!

The fact that mintmarks were still hand-punched onto working dies for much of the 20th century made this type of error possible.

On the popular Numista forum, the user edduns points out:

"1989 was the last year of the hand-punched mint-marks on US coins."

This coin is by far the most desirable Jefferson nickel variety. It's estimated that roughly 20,000 examples exist.

The "Full Steps" designation is given to sharp, well-struck 1942-D (D/D) coins. This small subset (perhaps 500 examples) sells for a significant premium.

Collecting Jefferson Nickels

There are abundant opportunities for collecting Jefferson nickels.

Most of the high prices on this list relate to rare error coins. Aside from these rarities, the Jefferson nickel series is very affordable and accessible.

You can even kickstart your collection simply by merely sifting through pocket change! It's one of the nice advantages of collecting a modern circulating series.

Nickel collectors can also dive into the recent Westward Journey circulating commemorative series. Released in 2004 and 2005, these coins (above) featured the first new designs on the five-cent coin since the Jefferson theme debuted in 1938.

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Everett Millman

Everett Millman

Managing Editor | Analyst, Commodities and Finance

Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.

In addition to blogging, Everett's work has been featured in Reuters, CNN Business, Bloomberg Radio, TD Ameritrade Network, CoinWeek, and has been referenced by the Washington Post.