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1954 Nickel Value: Varieties & Rare Errors

If you want a super-premium sale of a 1954 nickel, find the S variety in high mint state (MS) grading and the Full Steps (FS) designation. One of those with an MS67FS grading sold for a whopping $35,250 in 2020 at Rare Legend Coin Auctions.

Jefferson coins with the Full Steps designation are fully struck and show well-separated and clearly defined 5 or 6 steps of the Monticello, creating special interest among coin collectors.

But this is one in a few big-buck sales for this variety. Most surviving 1954 nickels are in circulated condition or lower mint-state grades.

So, back to reality. What is the value of a 1954 Nickel?

A circulated 1954 nickel is worth $0.10 to $0.15.

In low mint state grades, the 1954 nickel worth still lies around that range, fetching a low of $0.25 for MS60 Philadelphia and Denver nickels and a high of $7-50 for the San Francisco variety.

However, the 1954 nickel value can shoot up with higher grading, ranging between $70 to $500 for MS66-67 nickels.

This value chart has the finer details on the 1954 nickel worth.

1954 Nickel Value Chart
Grading/Condition 1954 No Mint Mark Nickel 1954 D Nickel 1954 S Nickel
Circulated (Good) $0.10 $0.10 $0.10
Circulated (Fine) $0.10 $0.10 $0.10
Circulated (Extra Fine) $0.10 $0.10 $0.10
About Uncirculated (AU50-58) $0.10-$0.15 $0.10-$0.15 $0.10-$0.15
Uncirculated (MS60-63) $0.25-$2 $0.25-$2 $0.25-$7.50
Uncirculated (MS 64/65) $12.50/$27.50 $10/$37.50 $15/$30
Uncirculated (MS66/67) $70/$625 $165/$500 $75/$400

Price guides usually present circulated coins in grades from 4-45. A 4-grade nickel is in “Good” condition, with well-defined digits and letters on the design. However, the coin rims may show considerable wear.

Nickels with a 45 grade are Extra Fine. They show complete design details with minimal wear on the high design points.

Uncirculated nickels in mint state have no signs of wear and bear a grade from MS60-70. MS60 nickels show mint-related hairlines or scratches, while MS70 nickels are in perfect condition with an appealing luster.

There are no recorded 1954 nickels in the MS68+ grades.

Read complete details on US Coin Grading in our designated article. But, for this post, consider that the Full Steps (FS) designation is often included with the grading and can significantly raise the value of a 1954 nickel for all three varieties.

1954 Nickel History, Features, and Coin Specs

1954 Nickel

The 1954 nickel has the same historical and design details as other 1938-2003 Jefferson nickels.

The Jefferson nickel series replaced the Buffalo nickel when President Franklin Roosevelt invoked the 25-minimum time law for a design to stay on a coin and authorized the image of Thomas Jefferson on a new nickel. He did not need Congress’s authorization for this change.

However, this year’s nickel is associated with a few interesting details, especially for the San Francisco “S” variety:

  • 1954 was the year Francis LeRoy Henning made the famous counterfeit Henning nickels. However, not including the large “P” present on authentic 1942-1945 Silver War Nickels in his 1944 version led to their discovery and removal from circulation.
  • In 1954, the San Francisco Mint made the last nickel before closing shop for the next 10 years.
  • Numismatics consider 1950s nickels to have a low-quality strike. In fact, some experts propose the 1954 “S” variety is the worst-struck nickel in the entire Jefferson series.

Stay alert for more details later in the article about the 1954 S nickel minting issues. These win the nickel a rarity spot among coin collectors and numismatics.

1954 Nickel Design Features

A German immigrant turned American, Felix Schlag, won the approximately 400-artist competition to become the Jefferson nickel designer in 1937.

On the obverse, Schlag designed Jefferson’s bust with a left-facing posture. He also included “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “LIBERTY♦1954” to the front and back of Jefferson’s image, respectively.

On the reverse, Jefferson’s Virginia home, Monticello, took central space. Details on the Monticello are among the design features that significantly define the Jefferson nickel value to date, especially the steps on the front.

Schlag also included “E PLURIBUS UNUM”, “FIVE CENTS” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” around the Monticello.

The mint mark appears in a small engraving to the right of the Monticello for the Denver (D) and San Francisco (S) varieties. No mint mark means the nickel is from the Philadelphia facility.

1954 Nickel Metal Composition and Coin Specs

The US Mint readopted the pre-war copper-nickel composition for the nickel in 1946, which also characterizes the 1954 nickel. So, although you may hear some speak of the 1954 silver nickel, the 1954 nickel is not silver.

Check details on the 1954 nickel metal composition below, alongside other specifications.

  • Coin series: Jefferson Nickels (1938-2003 version)
  • Designer: Felix Schlag
  • Metal composition: Nickel 25%, Copper 75%
  • Total Mintage: 194,437,910
  • Mass: 5g
  • Diameter: 21.2mm
  • Edge: Plain
  • Face value: $0.05 (5 cents)
  • Melt value: $0.05

1954 Jefferson Nickel Varieties

The typical three US coin varieties exist for the 1954 Jefferson nickel: Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (D), and San Francisco (S) varieties.

However, you might see the S/D error nickels on the San Franciso variety treated as a stand-alone variety.

I’ll discuss the 1954 nickel errors in detail later. In the meantime, here’s a breakdown of the 1954 nickel varieties mintage and their predicted survival rates to date.

1954 Nickel Variety, Mintage, and Survival Estimates
Philadelphia (No Mint Mark) Denver (D) San Francisco (S)
Mintage 47,917,350 117,136,560 29,384,000
Estimated Survival (All grades) 38,000,000 93,000,000 23,00,000
Estimated Survival (MS60-64) 215,000 110,000 390,000
Estimated Survival (MS 65+) 110,000 25,600 210,000

As you can tell, the 1954 nickel is readily available in all varieties, including the San Francisco variety. This nickel saw a lot of hoarding because it was the last mintage from this facility.

In fact, the S variety records a higher survival rate for higher-grade nickels than the Denver variety, which had the highest mintage that year.

1. 1954 Nickel No Mint Mark

1954 Nickel No Mint Mark

Compared to nickels in other years of the Jefferson series, the 1954 nickel no mint mark isn’t your most valued coin. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a premium sale for this coin, after all, the highest-valued made $8,813 in 2012 at Stack’s Bowers. The nickel has an MS66FS grading.

However, in the circulated condition, 1954 nickels will only earn you less than a dollar, at most $0.15 for an AU58 nickel.

In the open coin market, auction records for circulated 1954 nickel no mint mark are almost non-existent. A single record suggests that a circulated 1954 nickel no mint mark will only sell for tens of dollars if it has a mint error.

One such nickel in ‘AU Details’ condition and Obverse Half of Split Planchet error sold for $51 in 2023 at Heritage Auctions. That counts as a good sale, considering the coin was cleaned, a deal breaker for coin grading.

In pristine, mint state condition, expect to fetch $0.25 for an MS60 nickel and an impressive $625 for an MS67 nickel. MS67 is also the highest known grade for a 1954 no mint mark nickel.

Prices for the 1954 nickel can significantly increase if MS grades also bear the Full Steps (FS) designation. In this case, coin market prices can shoot to $350 for an MS65 with 5FS and $550 for an MS65 with 6FS.

FS-designated 1954 nickels make the top five list of the highest-valued 1954 Jefferson nickels.

1954 Nickel “No Mint Mark” Highest Sales
Grading Value Sale Year Firm
MS66FS $8,813 2012 Stack’s Bowers
MS66+FS $2,280 2020 Stack’s Bowers
MS66FS $2,160 2018 Stack’s Bowers
MS66FS $1,920 2021 Stack’s Bowers
MS66FS $1,680 2019 Heritage Auctions

These top 5 sales make half the score in about ten 1954 Philadelphia nickels with four-figure prices to date.

2. 1954 D Nickel Value

1954 D Nickel

The Denver facility made the highest number of nickels in 1954. That means more nickels of this variety are readily available overall.

Just like their Philadelphia counterparts, circulated 1954 D nickels will fetch $0.10-$0.15.

But in the open coin market, you can get better deals for these coins, especially if they bear rare mint errors. One of those with an AU58 grading and struck on a cent planchet sold for $336 at Heritage Auctions in 2019.

Going by general price guides, an uncirculated 1954 D nickel is worth $0.25 in low MS60 grades and $500 in high MS67 grades. In the open coin market, this price shoots even higher if your 1954 D nickel has the FS designation. Specifically, an MS65 with 6FS can fetch around $950, and an MS66 with 5FS could command up to $3000.

Note that these price guides go by what is available for each grade. So, in this case, for example, there are records for an MS65 with 6FS but not an MS67 with 6FS designation.

As of this writeup, the highest-valued 1954 D nickel is an MS66+FS. This coin fetched $9,694 at Legend Rare Coin Auctions in 2020. Find other high-value 1954 D nickels in this table.

1954 D Nickel Highest Sales
Grading Value Sale Year Firm
MS66+FS $9,694 2020 Legend Rare Coin Auctions
MS66FS $4,230 2016 Heritage Auctions
MS65FS $3,055 2014 Heritage Auctions
MS66FS $2,820 2020 Legend Rare Coin Auctions
MS65FS $2,588 2006 David Lawrence RC

It’s possible to come across 1954 nickels with the D over D (D/D) error. However, these don’t seem to spark collector interest.

3. 1954 S Nickel Value

1954 S Nickel

The S variety records the highest sales for the 1954 nickel to date. There are valid reasons for that.

First, collectors and the general public hoarded plenty of nickels in this variety, considering they were the last from the San Francisco facility. As a result, they reappeared in their numbers years later in pristine condition and appealing luster. Many still turn up today.

Second, the 1954 S nickel is quite elusive in the Full Steps designation. In fact, collectors consider it the rarest find with FS in the entire Jefferson series.

This last reason explains why the highest-valued 1954 S nickel commanded an impressive $32,250 sale at Legend Rare Coin Auctions in 2020. The coin has an MS67FS grading. The second highest-valued coin also fetched a price very close to this one, as indicated in the top five sales table below.

But for upcoming collectors interested in circulated and lower-grade lots of the 1954 S nickel, current price guides assign a $0.10-$0.15 value to circulated 1954 S nickels, just like their Denver and Philadelphia counterparts.

Instead, circulated 1954 S nickel value can vary from a low of $0.25 for an MS60 coin to $400 for an MS67 coin. And like other varieties of this year, 1954 S nickels with the FS designation command higher prices, with available 5FS coins fetching between $1,500 for an MS65 and $22,500 for an MS66 nickel.

That said, here are the top five 1954 S nickel sales.

1954 S Nickel Highest Sales
Grading Value Sale Year Firm
MS67FS $35,250 2020 Legend Rare Coin Auctions
MS66FS $30,550 2018 Legend Rare Coin Auctions
MS66FS $15,863 2021 Legend Rare Coin Auctions
MS65+FS $12,925 2016 Heritage Auctions
MS65+FS $7,800 2021 Stack’s Bowers

Overall, four-figure sales are quite common for the 1954 S nickel variety.

As things stand, we would be partial to leave answered this common question, “What is the error on the 1954 S nickel?”

This famous error is the 1954 S over D (S/D) error. The error is well-valued among collectors, and many of these gem nickels have survived thanks to coin hoarding.

1954 S Over D (SD) Error

Many 1954 S/D nickels command prices above $1000. The highest-valued 1954 S/D nickel sold for $3,450 in 2004 at Heritage Auctions. The nickel has an MS66 grading.

There are also 1954 S/S error nickels, but again, these aren’t treasured by coin collectors as the 1954 S/D error nickels.

Other Valuable 1954 Nickel Errors

Apart from the 1954 S/D error on the San Francisco nickel, there are 2 other common errors on the 1954 Jefferson nickel: The wrong planchet error and the off-center strike error.

These errors can raise the 1954 nickel value by hundreds or thousands of dollars.

1. 1954 Nickel Wrong Planchet Error

1954 Nickel Wrong Planchet Error

The wrong planchet error is extremely common in the 1954 nickel. It appears that the error is well-valued by coin collectors, fetching high prices even for circulated pieces.

Four-figure sales are quite common for the 1954 nickel with wrong planchet error.

Here’s a list of the five most valued 1954 nickels with the wrong planchet error.

  • 1954 D nickel, AU58 struck on a cent planchet: Sold for $1,840 in 2007 at Heritage Auctions.
  • 1954 D nickel, AU58 struck on a cent planchet: Sold for $1,380 in 2008 at Heritage Auctions.
  • 1954 S nickel, MS64 struck on a cent planchet: Sold for $900 in 2019 at Heritage Auctions.
  • 1954 nickel no mint mark, MS63 struck on a cent planchet: Sold for $660 in 2019 at Heritage Auctions.
  • 1954 S nickel, MS63 struck on a cent planchet: Sold for $600 in 2020 at Heritage Auctions.

In their regular strike, these 1954 nickels would fetch between $0.15 for the lowest-graded and $15 for the highest-graded.

2. 1954 Off-center Strike Error

1954 Off-center Strike Error

The off-center strike is especially common on the 1954 S nickel, but you also find it on the Denver and Philadelphia varieties.

When this error happens, the design is missing on part of the coin because the planchet is not well positioned on the dies during striking.

One of these 1954 nickels with the off-center strike error from the Philadelphia facility sold for $1,110 in 2018 at Heritage Actions. The nickel has an MS64 grading and is struck on a cent planchet.

In its regular strike, this coin would have fetched a mere $12.50, as per the current price guides.

Final Words

The 1954 nickel is readily available in all grades. However, higher grades above MS65 are scarcer, and no known 1954 nickels in MS68 grading have been found.

Circulated 1954 nickels are worth less than a dollar for all three varieties. However, you would win a lottery if you found the 1954 S nickel in high grades, MS67+, as it seems this variety is the most valued among coin collectors.

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