Coin Prices Slightly Affected by Precious Metals: 06/13/2024: Gold $2312.95 | Silver $29.38

1946 Nickel Value: Varieties & Rare Errors

High-quality 1946 nickels with an MS66+ grading are an elusive lot. After all, years of circulation have stamped wear signs on a majority of these coins and reduced the number of mint-state 1946 nickels in the vaults of reserve banks.

Even though coin collectors have their eyes peeled for a mint-state 1962 nickel in the coin market, circulated 1946 Jefferson nickels are more common and easier to find. So, is a nickel from 1946 worth anything?

If you own one, a circulated 1946 nickel is worth less than a dollar, about $0.10-$0.60, depending on the extent of wear and grading.

Uncirculated 1946 nickels in lower MS grading are worth less than a dollar as well. However, 1946 nickels in higher MS grades sell for a premium of $425 for an MS67 Philadelphia coin and $2550 for a San Francisco nickel in MS68 grading.

Before I give you more details about this Jefferson nickel, check the complete details on how much is the 1946 nickel worth in this value chart.

1946 Nickel Value Chart
Grading/Condition 1946 No Mint Mark Nickel 1946 D Nickel 1946 S Nickel
Circulated (Good) $0.10 $0.10 $0.10
Circulated (Fine) $0.20 $0.20 $0.25
Circulated (Extra Fine) $0.30 $0.30 $0.40
About Uncirculated (AU50-58) $0.35-$0.55 $0.40-$0.60 $0.45-$0.60
Uncirculated (MS60-65) $0.65-$20 $0.70-$20 $0.70-$20
Uncirculated (MS66/67) $40/$425 $30/$175 $40/$100
Uncirculated (MS68+) $2550

To help you understand the 1946 value chart, you should know that coin collectors usually go for circulated coins with grades 4 to 45.

A 4-grade coin is in “Good” condition and has complete letters and digits on the design, even though extensive wear may show on the rims. Circulated coins with a 45 grading are “Extra Fine” and present full design details with slight wear on the design’s high points.

Uncirculated coins are just as they came from the mint facility and bear a grade between MS60 and MS70. MS60 coins have an average to weak strike and may show hairlines or scratches but no signs of wear. MS70 are perfect-condition coins with no faults and with an extra-appealing luster.

Our comprehensive article on US Coin Grading has the finer details on coin condition, grading, and best grading services.

For this article, you will also notice the Proof Like (PL) and Full Steps (FS) designations. Coins with a PL designation have a mirrored appearance similar to Proof coins. Those with the FS designation display 5 or 6 well-separated and clearly defined steps of the Monticello.

Both the PL and FS designations can significantly increase the value of a 1946 Jefferson nickel.

1946 Nickel Facts and Features

1946 Nickel

Coin collectors are always alert for coins with rare and interesting historical facts, mint and design features, valuable coin specs, and mint marks that could be associated with higher coin value.

1945 Nickel Historical Facts

For the 1946 nickel, it is worth noting two historical facts:

  • The nickel’s metal composition returned to copper and nickel after the 1942-1945 Silver War Nickels with a 35% silver content alongside copper and manganese. That rules out the existence of a 1946 silver nickel.
  • The mint mark changed from the large mark atop the Monticello (Jefferson’s home) to a smaller print on the right.

As for other 1946 nickel details, you have President Roosevelt to thank for authorizing the image of Thomas Jefferson on the nickel from 1938 and the German immigrant Felix Schlag for the coin design.

1946 Nickel Design Features

The obverse reveals Jefferson’s bust facing left, and around it, the inscriptions “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “LIBERTY♦1946”.

The reverse has the Monticello home at center stage. Over it is the U.S. motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” and below it, the inscriptions “FIVE CENTS” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”. The mint mark appears subtly to the right of the Monticello, but only for the Denver (D) and San Francisco (S) varieties, while the Philadelphia variety has no mint mark.

1946 Nickel Coin Specifications

As for precise 1946 nickel metal composition and other coin features, here’s what to expect.

  • Coin series: Jefferson Nickels (1938-2003 version)
  • Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Metal composition: Nickel 25%, Copper 75%
  • Total Mintage: 219,968,200
  • Mass: 5g
  • Diameter: 21.2mm
  • Edge: Plain
  • Face value: $0.05 (5 cents)
  • Melt value: $0.05

1946 Nickel Varieties and Survival Estimates

The usual Philadelphia (No mint mark), Denver (D), and San Francisco (S) varieties exist for the 1946 nickel.

However, their current availability in the coin market varies, with the “No mint mark” variety recording the highest survival rates for all grades and the “S” variety recording the highest survival rates for high-grade nickels.

For all three varieties, circulated grades are quite common, with uncirculated grades becoming rarer as the grade values go up. Here’s a summary of that info:

1946 Nickel Variety, Mintage, and Survival Estimates
Philadelphia (No Mint Mark) Denver (D) San Francisco (S)
Mintage 161,116,000 45,292,200 13,560,000
Estimated Survival (All grades) 130,000,000 36,200,000 10,800,000
Estimated Survival (MS60-64) 180,000 307,000 500,000
Estimated Survival (MS 65+) 118,000 235,000 400,000

1946 Nickel Value

1946 No Mint Mark Nickel Value

1946 No Mint Mark Nickel

Price guides indicate that the 1946 nickel no mint mark value is less than a dollar in the circulated condition. You’ll buy or sell it for $0.10-$0.55.

However, the narrative changes with uncirculated 1946 nickel no mint mark coins. While one in low MS60 grading is still worth less than a dollar ($0.65), the value of a 1946 nickel in MS67 grading shoots to $425.

1946 Philadelphia nickels in grades higher than MS67 have a 10.1 point on the numismatic rarity scale. That means there aren’t any surviving nickels in this grade recorded so far.

However, circulated 1946 nickels in lower grades can increase in value if they have a Full Steps (FS) designation. The FS designation means 5 or 6 steps are clear on the Monticello.

In fact, the highest-valued 1946 nickel no mint mark has an MS67FS grading. This nickel sold in 2020 at the Legend Rare Coin Auctions for $8,813.

So far, the 1946 no mint mark nickels on the top 5 sales have an FS designation, commanding prices between $3,360 and $8,813. You have that info summarized in the table below.

1946 Nickel “No Mint Mark” Highest Sales
Grading Value Sale Year Firm
MS67FS $8,813 2020 Legend Rare Coin Auctions
MS67FS $6,600 2021 Heritage Auctions
MS66FS $3,680 2004 Heritage Auctions
MS66+FS $3,525 2019 Legend Rare Coin Auctions
MS67FS $3,360 2022 Heritage Auctions

Circulated 1946 no mint mark nickels aren’t common in auction records. You can count those in the NGC and PCGS records on your one hand.

Going by these records, the price of circulated 1946 nickel no mint mark in auction sales ranges between a low of $21 for a VF20 nickel that sold in 2005 at Heritage Auctions and a high of $42 for a “Verified” (AU details) nickel that sold in 2016 at the same firm.

1946 D Nickel Value

1946 D Nickel

The 1946 D nickel is an interesting coin when it comes to value. In regular strike, a 1946 D nickel value is $0.10-$0.65 in circulated condition.

In uncirculated condition, 1946 D nickels will still sell for less than a dollar in MS60 grading but rise to $175 in MS67 grade.

There are no recorded 1946 D nickels in MS grades higher than 67. And, like their Philadelphia counterparts, uncirculated 1946 nickels will sell for higher prices if they have the FS designation, fetching up to $3,400 in the MS67FS grading.

Surprisingly, though, the highest-valued 1946 D nickel is an MS67 coin sold for $8,625 in 2006 at Bowers & Merena.

But that’s only part of the story because there’s a fascinating twist to the 1946 D nickel value. If you find one with the D over D (D/D) error, you can sell it for much more, up to $3,000 for an MS66 D/D nickel.

In fact, the actual highest-valued 1946 D nickel is a D/D coin with MS66FS grading that sold for $11,500 in 2006 at Heritage Auctions.

It’s worth noting that records by Heritage Auctions and the PCGS suggest this coin has changed hands several times over the years, commanding a lot lower prices.

Both the highest-valued 1946 D and 1946 D/D nickel appear on the top five list for this variety, with the D/D variety dominating the list.

1946 D; D/D Nickel Highest Sales
Grading Variety Value Sale Year Firm
MS66FS D/D $11,500 2006 Heritage Auctions
MS67FS D $8,625 2006 Bowers & Merena
MS66FS D/D $8,625 2004 Heritage Auctions
MS66FS D/D $8,280 2007 Heritage Auctions
MS66FS D/D $7,763 2008 Heritage Auctions

Like the 1946 nickel no mint mark variety, 1946 D and D/D nickel in circulated condition are rare on auction records, with only 5 showing on the NGC and PCGS records so far.

These show prices from a low of $28 for a VF30 1946 D/D nickel that sold in 2000 at Heritage Auctions and a high of $165 for an AU55 1946 D/D nickel that sold in 2015 at the same firm.

1946 S Nickel Value

1946 S Nickel

The 1946 S nickel is the least valued among all three varieties. In the circulated condition, price guides for the 1946 S nickel range between $0.10 and $0.60.

Like its Denver and Philadelphia counterparts, the 1946 S nickel will still sell for less than a dollar ($0.70) in uncirculated MS60 grading. In MS67 grading, the 1946 S nickel value is $100, much less than the Philadelphia and Denver nickels in the same grade.

But the 1946 S variety records nickels in MS68 grading, with price guides suggesting a $2,550 value for these. However, the only 1946 S nickel in record with an MS68 grading sold for $1,560 in 2022 at Heritage Auctions.

Similar to the other two varieties, the 1946 S nickel with the FS and PL designations appreciates in value, commanding up to $2,650 for an MS67FS nickel and $350 for an MS67PL nickel.

As of this writing, the highest-valued 1946 S nickel is an MS67FS coin sold for $7,800 in 2017 at Heritage Auctions. All other 1946 S nickels on the top 5 list have the same grading and record prices between $5,040 and $7,800.

1946 S Nickel Highest Sales
Grading Value Sale Year Firm
MS67FS $7,800 2017 Heritage Auctions
MS67FS $7,200 2021 Stack’s Bowers
MS67FS $7,050 2017 Heritage Auctions
MS67FS $6,300 2018 Heritage Auctions
MS67FS $5,520 2021 Stack’s Bowers

Of course, 1946 S nickels are usually Proof and Specimen coins not meant for circulation. So, you are unlikely to find any in the circulated condition.

Which 1946 Nickel Errors Are Worth Money?

The D/D error is the most valuable on the list of 1946 nickel error list. I already mentioned that a D/D nickel is the highest-selling 1946 nickel to date, valued at $11,500.

But there are other rare and valuable errors on the 1946 nickel, including the wrong planchet and the double struck errors.

Mint errors appreciate the 1946 nickel value by tens, hundreds, or thousands of dollars. Here are some of the most valuable 1946 nickel errors after the D/D error.

1. 1946 Nickel Struck on a War Nickel

1946 Nickel Struck on a War Nickel Error

If you’ve heard anyone ask, “Is 1946 nickel silver?”, this is the only time the question has a “yes” answer.

The silver content in this nickel explains why the 1946 nickel struck on a remainder war nickel planchet sold for a staggering $9,600 at Heritage Auctions in 2022.

The most exciting detail about this nickel is that it is a circulated coin with an F12 grading, meaning it has considerable signs of wear, although the inscriptions are still sharp.

In the copper nickel composition characteristic of 1946 nickels, the price guide for this coin is $0.20.

2. 1946 Nickel Struck on a Cent Planchet

1946 Nickel Struck on a Cent Planchet Error

The US cent or penny is smaller than the nickel. That means a nickel struck on a cent planchet will have missing design details closer to the edge.

In fact, the 1946 nickel struck on a cent planchet presents incomplete inscriptions closer to the coin edge on both the obverse and reverse sides.

This coin sold for $840 at Heritage Auctions in 2019. In its regular strike, the nickel in its MS63 grade would have sold for a mere 3 dollars.

3. 1946 Nickel with Double Struck Flip Over Error

1946 Nickel with Double Struck Flip Over Error

A double struck flip over error happens when a coin is struck, flips over, and is struck a second time.

The 1946 nickel with a double struck flip over error sold for $431 at Heritage Auctions in 2010. The Philadelphia nickel has an MS66 grading, meaning it would have sold for approximately $40 without the rare error.

4. Other Valuable 1946 Nickel Errors

1946 Nickel Obverse Half of Split Planchet Error

Other nickels top on the list of valuable 1946 nickel errors include the Obverse Half of Split Planchet on an AU55 nickel that sold for $104 at Heritage Auctions in 2010 and an MS64 nickel with Partial collar that fetched $98 in 2005 at the same firm.

In regular strike, these 1946 Philadelphia nickels would go for $0.45 and $12.50, respectively.

Final Thoughts

The 1946 nickel isn’t exceptionally valuable. Price guides show a less-than-dollar value for those in the circulated and low mint-state conditions.

On the open coin market, however, 1946 nickels have sold for premium prices, up to $11,500 for a Denver 1946 nickel.

If you have a 1946 nickel, you can look up its value to determine if it’s worth anything.

Leave a Comment