Valuable American Nickels In Circulation

Valuable American Nickels In Circulation

Nickels are a common denomination of American currency, but not all nickels are created equal. Some nickels are more valuable than their face value due to their rarity, condition, or historical significance. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most valuable American nickels that you might come across in circulation.

Buffalo Nickel (1913-1938)

One of the most iconic and sought-after nickels is the Buffalo Nickel, minted from 1913 to 1938. Designed by James Earle Fraser, this nickel features a Native American on the obverse and a buffalo on the reverse. Certain Buffalo Nickels, particularly those with full dates and minimal wear, can be worth significantly more than their five-cent face value.

War Nickels (1942-1945)

During World War II, nickel was a crucial metal for the war effort. To conserve nickel, the composition of the nickel was changed, resulting in the “War Nickel” or “Silver Nickel.” These nickels contain 35% silver, making them more valuable than regular nickels. Look for the large mint mark above Monticello on the reverse to identify these valuable coins.

Jefferson Nickel (1938-Present)

While most Jefferson Nickels in circulation are not particularly valuable, there are some rare varieties that collectors covet. For example, the 1939-D “Reverse of 1940” nickel and the 1950-D “Over D” nickel are both worth more than their face value in certain conditions. Keep an eye out for these varieties when sorting through your change.

Proof Jefferson Nickels

Proof coins are specially minted for collectors and are not intended for circulation. However, they can sometimes enter circulation by mistake. Proof Jefferson Nickels, with their sharp details and mirror-like finishes, can be worth significantly more than regular nickels. Look for the “S” mint mark on these coins, indicating they were minted in San Francisco.

Key Dates and Mint Marks

In addition to specific nickel types, certain key dates and mint marks can make a regular nickel more valuable. For example, the 1955-S nickel is considered a key date with a low mintage, making it more valuable to collectors. Mint marks can also affect value, with coins from certain mints being more desirable than others.

Condition is Key

When determining the value of a nickel, condition plays a crucial role. Coins that are in mint state or near mint state condition will generally command higher prices than those with significant wear and damage. Look for nickels with sharp details, full dates, and minimal scratches or discoloration.


While most nickels in circulation are worth their face value, there are valuable exceptions to keep an eye out for. Whether it’s a rare Buffalo Nickel, a wartime Silver Nickel, or a special variety of Jefferson Nickel, these coins can turn up unexpectedly in your pocket change. Happy hunting!

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