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

Top 20 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels Worth Money

The most valuable Jefferson nickel is the one-of-a-kind 1969-D nickel with Full Steps, sold for $33,600 in 2021 at a Stack’s Bowers auction. As impressive as this is, it is still much cheaper than the most valuable nickel, the 1913 Liberty, auctioned for over $4.5 million in 2018.

Here are the top five Jefferson nickels:

  1. 1969-D Jefferson Nickel (Full Steps) – $33,600
  2. 1938-D Jefferson Nickel (Full Steps) – $33,600
  3. 1964 (SMS) Jefferson Nickel (Full Steps) – $32,900
  4. 1949 D/S Jefferson Nickel (Full Steps) – $32,900
  5. 1942-D/D Jefferson Nickel (Full Steps) – $32,200

Read on to dive into what makes these coins worth a lot of money. Get to know their unique history and their current valuation in today’s market.

What Nickels Are Worth Money?

The Jefferson Nickels (1938 to Date) are among the longest-running series in U.S. coinage history. They were first issued in 1938 with the Original Design Vintage depicting Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and his Monticello Virginia estate on the reverse.

Below are the main factors that significantly increase their worth:

1. Low Population – Rarity

The most valuable coins are always those that are harder to find, be it in terms of their unique design or their low mintage.

However, not all low-mintage coins are highly valuable. For example, if a few coins were struck but many of them managed to survive to date, then their value will be lower. The coin has to be rare to find in today’s market for its worth to increase.

An example of this is the 1950-D with only 2.6 million mintage (most Jefferson nickels were produced in hundreds of millions). Despite its low mintage, this coin isn’t highly valued. Many examples were saved by collectors, making them easily obtainable today, even by the rolls.

2. Full Step (FS) Designation

The Monticello Estate building struck at the reverse side of Jefferson Nickels depicts an entrance with several steps. The “Full Step” (FS) grade designation is used by grading companies like PCGS and NGC to refer to the quality of these steps.

FS grading signifies that all steps are clearly defined, with minimal blending or weak spots. This indicates a superior strike, showing the coin was struck in exceptional quality.

Collectors value the FS designation because it implies a well-preserved, high-quality coin. This often translates to higher market prices compared to nickels with less defined steps.

Please note that the FS grade is only given to Mint State (MS) uncirculated coins. Circulated coins naturally have weaker strikes and Proof coins are expected to have full steps, hence why they lack FS.

3. Varieties

Jefferson Nickels have many varieties but none are prominent and valuable like the Over-mintmarks (particularly D/D).

Other notable varieties include doubled dies, RPM (re-punched mintmarks), and overdates.

4. Silver Alloy Jefferson Nickels (1942-1945)

Also known as War Nickels, these coins were made with a silver alloy to ensure enough nickel material was spared for World War II efforts.

Instead of the old 75% copper and 25% nickel cupronickels, the new metal composition was changed to 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. A larger mintmark was placed at the top of the Monticello reverse to represent the material change.

It is also important to note that the mintmark P was first used in the 1942-P Silver Nickel to represent the Philadelphia Mint.

All these unique aspects combined with the lustrous silver appearance make these coins more expensive than the cupronickel types.

Cupronickel nickels in circulated conditions are worth their face value but silver nickels in the same conditions are worth $2 – $120 depending on the year and variety.

5. High Grading

Coins with the highest grades are the rarest in the series and have a higher appeal due to their well-persevered strikes and finishes.

Check out our coin grading guide for more details on how the grading scale works.

Remember to use third-party grading companies like the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) to properly authenticate and certify your valuable coin. This will ensure you get the most premium out of it.

Top 20 Jefferson Nickels Worth Money

Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels

Rare Jefferson nickels are the most valuable since they are the hardest to find and have a higher demand in the open market. This list includes rare Jefferson nickels with unique varieties, limited mintage, limited numbers in high grades, and interesting designs.

Below is a value table of the most valuable Jefferson nickels, curated from the highest auction prices ever realized:

Nickel Grade Highest Auction Price Realized Year Current Valuation
1969-D Nickel MS65 $33,600 2021 $37,500
1938-D Nickel MS68 $33,600 2022 $35,000
1964 (SMS Variety) Nickel SP68 $32,900 2016 $30,000
1949 D/S Nickel MS67 $32,900 2014 $23,500
1942-D/D Nickel MS66 $32,200 2006 $14,500
1940 Jefferson Nickel (Reverse of 1938) PR68 $28,750 2011 $20,000
1953-S Nickel MS65 $24,000 2019 $23,000
1939-D Nickel (Reverse of 1940) MS68 $26,400 2019 $27,500
1939 Doubled Monticello MS67 $20,562 2016 $11,500
1945-D Nickel MS68 $19,975 2014 $20,000
1964-D/D Re-punched Mintmark MS66 $19,800 2022 $22,500
1941 (Proof) Nickel PR68 $18,800 2013 $10,000
1939-D Nickel (Reverse of 1938) PR68 $18,400 2010 $25,000
1943/2-P Nickel (FS) MS67 $16,675 2008 $12,000
1952-D Nickel (FS) MS67 $16,500 2015 $5,850
1961 Nickel (FS) MS64+ $16,450 2014 $35,000
1944-S Nickel (FS) MS68 $14,100 2015 $18,000
1954-S Nickel (FS) MS65+ $12,925 2016 $40,000
1943-P (Silver) DDO Nickel(FS) MS67 $11,500 2009 $7,500
1943-D Jefferson Nickel (FS) MS67+ $6,600 2020 $6,500 – $20,000

1. 1969-D Jefferson Nickel, FS – $33,600

1969-D Jefferson Nickel

As per the PCGS price guide, this is the most expensive Jefferson nickel today. Valued at $37,500 in MS65, the nickel stands as the most coveted coin in the collector’s market with only one example known throughout history, an MS65-graded coin.

The MS65 coin is a 1969-D nickel with the only Full Steps reverse design from both Denver and San Francisco Mints. Over 200 million coins were made in Denver and over 120 million in San Francisco, despite this high mintage, only one 1969 FS nickel has ever been found.

The MS65-graded 1969-D FS Nickel is a Holy Grail coin, a single coin in a sea of over 320 million 1969 nickels. It went on auction twice, selling for over $30,000 in both cases.

Highest auction prices:

2. 1938-D Jefferson Nickel (Full Steps) – $33,600

1938-D Jefferson Nickel (Full Steps)

The 1938-D nickel is among the lowest-minted Jefferson nickels, with only 5 million made. Keep in mind over 200 million coins were produced for most nickel issues. The abysmal numbers and as a first-year issue, the 1938-D coins remain atop the valuable Jefferson nickel list.

It gets scarce at MS67 with less than 300 examples known today.

MS68 is the highest known grade, valued between $4,200 and $35,000 in today’s market as per PCGS price guides.

Please note that the Full Step major varieties are the most valuable. The non-FS coins are only worth thousands of dollars in MS68, any coin below that is worth less than $500.

Highest auction prices:

3. 1964 (SMS) Jefferson Nickel, FS – $32,900

1964 (SMS) Jefferson Nickel, FS

The SMS (Special Mint Set) version of the 1964 nickel is an enigmatic issue featuring a satiny surface with a champagne-gold appearance.

The U.S. Mint suspended Proof coin mintage between 1965 and 1967, however, during this period, several SMS varieties were minted to fill the gap. This 1964 SMS coin came before and is assumed to be the first prototype of the SMS coinage.

It is not known how many 1964 SMS nickels exist since no records have been found documenting their production. However, according to coin experts’ estimation, less than 30 examples exist today.

Highest auction prices:

4. 1949 D/S Jefferson Nickel, FS – $32,900

1949 DS Jefferson Nickel, FS

In this coin, an S mintmark is seen underneath the D mintmark. It is a die variety formed in one of two ways: when an over-mintmark error takes place or because there were surplus materials from San Francisco (S) that got sent to Denver and then refactored to be used for D nickels.

It is a popular variety with many examples in MS65. The coin gets scarcer in FS grades and even more in MS67-FS (worth over $20,000).

Highest auction prices:

5. 1942-D/D Jefferson Nickel, D/Horizontal D, FS – $32,200

1942-D/Horizontal D Jefferson Nickel, FS

The D over Horizontal D error in this 1942-D nickel came from a mint error where the employee punched the mintmark in the incorrect position. During this period, the U.S. Mint used manual operations to strike the mintmarks which led to many errors such as this.

The error is a major one, popular for its scarcity with just 100 or less known to exist in uncirculated conditions. PCGS price guide estimates it worth between $13,250 and $14,500 at MS66.

Highest auction prices:

6. 1940 Jefferson Nickel (Reverse of 1938), FS – $28,750

1940 Jefferson Nickel (Reverse of 1938), FS

Only 14,158 Proof coins were minted in Philadelphia in 1940. However, these coins came in two types: The 1940 Proof Nickel: Reverse of 1940 and the 1940 Proof Nickel: Reverse of 1938.

The difference between the two is the strengthening at the sides of the Monticello steps on the reverse design of the coin. The “Reverse of 1938” is the enigmatic one, with steps similar to that of 1938 nickels.

Such differences rarely happen in Proof coins since they are specifically made in the best possible quality.

Highest auction prices:

7. 1953-S Jefferson Nickel, FS – $24,000

1953-S Jefferson Nickel, FS

1953-S nickels with FS designation are the hardest to find FS coins between 1938 to 1960. They are valuable based on their extreme rarity and low population.

The coin at MS66 is worth $23,000.

Highest auction prices:

8. 1939-D Jefferson Nickel (Reverse of 1940), FS – $26,400

1939-D Jefferson Nickel (Reverse of 1940), FS

1939-D nickels have two types: Reverse of 1938 and Reverse of 1940. The latter is rarer than the former.

Reverse of 1940 means the 1939-D nickel’s tail side features a Monticello steps design where the details are so enhanced that they are similar to the reverse design on a 1940 nickel.

Today, the coin is worth $27,500 at MS68 which is the highest known grade.

Highest auction prices:

9. 1939 Doubled Monticello, FS – $20,562

1939 Doubled Monticello, FS

1939 Doubled Monticello is one of only three Jefferson Nickel DDO varieties. The other two are 1943 DD and 1945 DDO.

As one of only three, the DDO error on this 1939 nickel shows a doubling effect on several words like FIVE CENTS but it’s most noticeable on the MONTICELLO which is noticeably doubled.

It is estimated that only 1,500 (at most) exist in all grades. The highest grade is MS67, worth over $11,000.

Highest auction prices:

10. 1945-D Jefferson Nickel, FS – $19,975

1945-D Jefferson Nickel, FS

The 1945-D nickel is the last of the Silver Alloy Jefferson nickel. It is a fairly available coin that is obtainable up to MS67. MS68 is the highest grade and only a few examples have been found.

The scarcity increases when you look for MS68 with FS designation. These are the rarest, making them a top-tier silver nickel rarity with a high allure to collectors. The MS68-FS is valued by PCGS between $10,500 and $20,000.

Highest auction records:

11. 1964-D/D Re-punched Mintmark, FS – $19,800

1964-D/D Re-punched Mintmark, FS

More than 1.7 billion 1964-D nickels were minted. Of all these, less than a hundred examples feature the RPM (Re-punched mintmark) error.

RPM occurs when there is misalignment during multiple strikes of imprinting a mintmark onto a coin. The result is a mintmark, in this case, D, that appears Re-punched rather than one seamless mark.

Highest auction prices:

12. 1941 (Proof) Jefferson Nickel – $18,800

1941 (Proof) Jefferson Nickel

Only 18,720 Proof coins were made in 1941. It is a coin valued for its scarcity in the open market.

Also, the coin is rarer when you get to PR68. It is common in PR67 with more than 300 examples known, but less 20 examples exist in PR68 (worth over $9,000).

Highest auction prices:

13. 1939-D Jefferson Nickel (Reverse of 1938), FS – $18,400

1939-D Jefferson Nickel (Reverse of 1938), FS

This is the less scarce version of the 1939-D nickel. It features reverse details that are less enhanced than its sister coin, Reverse of 1940 version.

Despite the lower price tag, it is a fairly scarce coin in all of the Jefferson series. And scarcer once you get to its highest grade, MS68, worth over $20,000 today.

Proof coins are usually less valuable but the case is different here. Only 12,000 Proof versions of this variety were minted, adding to its scarcity.

Highest auction prices:

14. 1943/2-P Jefferson Nickel, FS – $16,675

1943/2-P Jefferson Nickel, FS

The 1943/2-P nickel is the only Overdate variety in the entire Jefferson series. It is a one-of-a-kind, highly valued for its uniqueness. More than 1,000 examples are known to exist with more being found as collectors continue to further incept rolls.

If you are looking for a nickel that is bound to appreciate and can be found in rolls then this is the one to check out.

Highest auction prices:

15. 1952-D Jefferson Nickel, FS – $16,500

1952-D Jefferson Nickel, FS

1952-D nickel is valuable for its rarity in higher grades. MS67 is the highest known grade, worth over $5,500.

Less than 150 FS examples have been submitted to PCGS and less than 10 of these are graded higher than MS66+.

Highest auction prices:

16. 1961 Jefferson Nickel, FS – $16,450

1961 Jefferson Nickel, FS

1961 nickels with FS designations are also valuable for their scarcity in the highest grades, MS66 condition or higher. Less than a handful exist in MS67 and only a few hundred in MS66.

The scarcity isn’t limited to Philadelphia Mint coins alone since Denver Mint 1961-D nickels are also rare in those grades.

Highest auction prices:

17. 1944-S Jefferson Nickel (Full Steps) – $14,100

1944-S Jefferson Nickel (Full Steps)

This silver alloy nickel is worth a lot of money for its rarity in the highest grade, MS68. The coin is abundant in MS60 – MS65 FS but the population is much lower once you get to MS68 FS.

As per PCGS, the value of MS68-FS is $18,000, and only $750 for MS67-FS.

Highest auction prices:

18. 1954-S Jefferson Nickel, FS – $12,925

1954-S Jefferson Nickel, FS

1954-S nickel with FS designations is rarer to find compared to most 1950s nickels.

Less than 30 coins have been graded by PCGS in all conditions. MS67 is the highest grade and only one example is known to exist, worth $40,000 as per PCGS.

MS65 are the most frequently sold examples at auctions, going for over $2,000 each.

Highest auction records:

19. 1943-P (Silver) Jefferson Nickel, FS: Double Die Obverse (DDO) – $11,500

1943-P (Silver) Jefferson Nickel, FS (DDO)

The DDO doubling of elements on this coin is more evident in the date, LIBERTY, and lines on Jefferson’s eye.

It is a popular variety since only three DDO varieties exist throughout the entire Jefferson Series. They are plenty but very rare in the highest grade, MS67. Less than ten MS67-FS coins are known to exist today, valued at $7,250 each.

Highest auction prices:

20. 1943-D (Silver) Jefferson Nickel, FS – $6,600

1943-D (Silver) Jefferson Nickel, FS

The 1943-D is valuable due to its rarity at MS67+ and MS68 grades.

FS and non-Full Steps varieties are available in plenty and can still be found in relatively good conditions today. It is not until you go up the grading scale that the value increases. Today, less than five MS68 FS exist, PCGS values them between $6,500 and $20,000.

Highest auction records:

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Conclusion

The rarest and most valuable Jefferson Nickel are as such due to a combined number of factors ranging from a Key Date to a rare mint error/variety, to a high-grade condition, low mintage, and extremely high demand.

For the most profit in the Jefferson nickel collection, divert more attention to coins with a combination of these factors.

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