This is a list of the 50 most valuable nickels of all time, from the very first U.S. nickel (the 1866 Shield nickel) to the present day. We ranked more than 130 of the most popular rare nickels by auction records, and these were the 50 most expensive.

Nickel Type
1913 Liberty "V" (pop. 5)
1918/7-D Buffalo
1926-S Buffalo
1916 Buffalo DDO
1880 Shield
1913-D Buffalo Type 2
1917-S Buffalo
1920-D Buffalo
1918-S Buffalo
1927-S Buffalo

1913 v nickel

The Famous 1913 Liberty Nickel ($4,560,000). Graded PR66 by PCGS. Only 5 of these coins are known to exist.

Nickel Type
1919-S Buffalo
1924-S Buffalo
1935 DDR Buffalo
1937-D 3 Legs Buffalo
1925-S Buffalo
1913 Buffalo Type 1
1885 Liberty "V"
1926-D Buffalo
1923-S Buffalo
1886 Liberty "V"

1880 shield nickel

1880 Shield Nickel ($198,995). Graded MS66 by PCGS

Nickel Type
1914/3 Buffalo
1929 Buffalo
1931-S Buffalo
1883/2 Shield
1925-D Buffalo
1935 Buffalo
1915-S Buffalo
1918 Buffalo
1921-S Buffalo
1913-S Buffalo Type 2

1918 7 d buffalo nickel

1918/7 Buffalo Nickel ($350,750). Graded MS65+ by PCGS

Nickel Type
1914-S Buffalo
1927-D Buffalo
1928-S Buffalo
1920-S Buffalo
1924-D Buffalo
1867 Shield with Rays
1912-D Liberty "V"
1914 Buffalo
1912-S Liberty "V"
1929-S Buffalo

1954 s full steps jefferson nickel

1954-S Jefferson Nickel Full Steps ($35,250). Graded MS67 FS by PCGS

Nickel Type
1916-S Buffalo
1937-D Buffalo
1954-S Jefferson FS
1935-D Buffalo
1938-D Jefferson FS
1949-D/S Jefferson FS
1914-D Buffalo
1913-D Buffalo Type 1
1925 Buffalo
1942-D over horizontal D Jefferson FS

Why Isn’t [famous nickel] Listed?

The biggest surprise we had when compiling this list was how many famous rare nickels didn’t make the cut. The 1936-D “3 and a half legs” Buffalo nickel ($20,700) and the 1883 “No Cents” Liberty nickel ($12,075) are just some of the popular rare nickels whose auction records scored below the $32,000 cut-off of the Top 50 most expensive nickels.

1883 liberty head nickel

1883 Liberty Head nickel. The absence of the word "cents" in the design led to many of these 5-cent coins being plated in gold and pawned off as $5 coins!

Why Are There So Many Buffalo Nickels?

The other big surprise was just how many Buffalo nickels made the Top 50 Nickels list. There were two major reasons: popularity and supply of unimpaired coins. The Buffalo nickel is one of the most popular coins to collect. This means that demand for Mint State examples has been high for more than 100 years.

The difference between supply and demand is compounded by the high relief of the Buffalo nickel design. The high points of the coin, notably the cheek, feathers, and hair on the obverse and the top of the buffalo on the reverse were easily worn away.

Jefferson Full Steps (FS)

There have been 70 BILLION Jefferson nickels since its introduction in 1938. This explains the comparatively low all-time highs for most mintages, though several are worth thousands of dollars.

The truly rare Jefferson Nickels (and the only ones to make the Top 50 Most Valuable Nickels list) are those with “Full Steps” on Monticello on the reverse. The need to stretch out the life of the coin dies meant that most Jefferson nickels were not struck sharply enough to bring out the details of the building’s steps.

5 steps

6 steps

Those lucky enough to get a strike sharp enough to form Full Steps command premiums far above normally-struck coins. The extreme rarity of getting six full steps has led the coin grading industry to count five steps as Full Steps as well.

Read more about coin values and coin collecting from the author:

1909 VDB Penny Value, Errors, and Varieties

1942 Nickel No Mintmark: Values & Strange History Explained

What Are Coin Mint Marks? All About Mint Marks

1942 Walking Liberty Half Dollar Values, Errors, and Rarities

Most Asked Questions About US Mint Coins: Buyer's Guide

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Elizabeth | 5/7/2024
any value to a 1974 no mint quarter
1 Reply
Everett | 5/8/2024
Hey Elizabeth. There aren't any well-known "no mintmark" errors with the 1974 quarter. It's possible you discovered a new error coin, but otherwise your quarter is simply from the Philadelphia Mint. It may be worth about $6 if the coin is in Mint State.
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Steven Cochran

Steven Cochran

Precious Metals Market Analyst | BS University of South Florida (2002)

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