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Top 20 Most Valuable Nickels That Are Worth Money

Did you know the 1913 Liberty (Proof) Nickel is the rarest and most valuable nickel, worth more than $4 million? It is the only nickel above $1 million but there are several others worth more than $100,000.

Here are the top valuable nickels with their highest auction prices:

Top Valuable Nickels

  • 1913 Liberty (Proof) Nickel – $4,560,000
  • 1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel (8 Over 7) – $264,500
  • 1916 Buffalo Nickel: Doubled Die Obverse (DDO) – $264,500
  • 1917-S Buffalo Nickel – $138,000
  • 1867 Shield Nickel: Rays – $132,250
  • 1926-S Buffalo Nickel – $115,000

But the treasure trove doesn’t end here. Read on to discover a world of rare errors, low-mintage, and high-grade gems that can command hefty sums.

What Nickels Are Worth Money?

Nickels are more valuable if they have important historical significance that marks a shift in U.S. coinage or worldly events, including World Wars.

Below are other factors that affect the coins’ prices:

1. Early Nickels

Early Nickels

There are four types of nickels:

  • Shield Nickel (1866 – 1883)
  • Liberty Nickel (1883 – 1913)
  • Buffalo Nickel (1913 – 1938)
  • Jefferson Nickel (1938 to Date)

Nickels from the early days of nickel coinage are worth more since they mark the start of a fresh currency that is still in use today. Therefore, nickels before 1938 are bound to be more valuable than those after.

2. Mint Errors and Varieties

Varieties such as DDO in 1916 Buffalo Nickel or the Rays Variety in 1867 Shield Nickel make for unique pieces that are highly coveted by collectors.

Mint errors also add to the coin’s value, more so if the error is extremely rare or appealing.

3. Grading and Condition

The highest grades in any category often translate to rarity. The rarest nickels will often have the highest grades. Each coin type can be found in varying high-grade conditions depending on how long they have been in circulation.

Keep in mind that the highest grade in any year fetches the highest prices at auctions.

4. Low Mintage

Low mintage equals rarity, making the low-mintage coin a true collectible among enthusiasts. Years in which nickels weren’t produced in plenty added to the scarcity of that coin, thereby creating a higher demand for it.

5. Combination of the Above Factors

A combination of more than one of the above factors makes a nickel more expensive. An example is the 1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel (8 Over 7) which is considered the rarest Buffalo Nickel, features an 8 Over 7 error, and is extremely rare in Mint State – this adds up to a valuation of over $30,000 above MS60.

Top 20 Rare Nickels: Nickels Worth Money

Below are the most valuable nickels curated from the highest auction prices realized for nickels throughout history:

Dime Grade Highest Auction Price Realized Year Current Valuation
1913 Liberty (Proof) Nickel PR66 $4,560,000 2018 $6,250,000
1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel (8 Over 7) MS65 $264,500 2010 $260,000
1916 Buffalo Nickel: Doubled Die Obverse (DDO) MS64 $264,500 2005 $235,000
1917-S Buffalo Nickel MS67 $138,000 2008 $28,000
1867 Shield Nickel: Rays PR66 $132,250 2004 $66,000
1926-S Buffalo Nickel MS66 $115,000 2011 $135,000
1919-S Buffalo Nickel MS66 $109,250 2006 $85,000
1920-D Buffalo Nickel MS66 $97,750 2007 $50,000
1913 Buffalo Nickel PR68 $90,000 2022 $27,500
1880 Shield Nickel MS65 $88,125 2014 $60,000
1937-D Buffalo Nickel: Three-Legged MS66 $86,250 2005 $100,000
1910 Liberty Nickel PR68 $84,000 2018 $50,000
1879/8 Shield Nickel PR69 $84,000 2019 $110,000
1923-S Buffalo Nickel MS66 $67,562.50 2013 $27,500
1929 Buffalo Nickel MS67 $63,250 2005 $8,000
1935 Buffalo Nickel MS68 $57,500 2007 $25,000
1925-D Buffalo Nickel MS66 $57,500 2007 $12,000
1918 Buffalo Nickel MS67+ $55,200 2020 $35,000
1915 Buffalo Nickel PR69 $52,900 2003 $90,000
1915-S Buffalo Nickel MS67 $43,125 2009 $40,000

1. 1913 Liberty (Proof) Nickel – $4,560,000

1913 Liberty (Proof) Nickel

When talking of the ‘Mona Lisa of Rare Coins’, the 1913 Liberty Nickel comes to mind. The legendary King of 20th Century Coins is the 1913 5C Liberty PR66 Nickel, named at the top of the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins.

The coin is one of only five. They were minted in secret and not released officially to the public. Several theories exist, including possible production for wealthy collectors, a test strike for a new design, or even an elaborate forgery. The exact circumstances remain a mystery, adding to the coin’s intrigue and value.

The coin is valuable mainly due to its rarity. Only five were made in the entire year, a numismatic mystery like no other.

Liberty Nickels were last minted in 1912 for regular circulation, however, the mint decided to mint these 5 proof coins in 1913, dating them 1913 featuring the same design as the previous year’s Liberty coins instead of the current Buffalo design.

This makes the 1913 Liberty (Proof) Nickel a transitional coin between two eras. Its low mintage has inevitably made it a Holy Grail in the collector’s market, thus its incredibly high prices.

Current valuation according to PCGS and NGC is above $2 million in PR55 and above $3 million in PR62. PR63 nickels up to PR66 are worth $4 – $6 million.

Highest auction records:

Also Read: Most Valuable Buffalo Nickels

2. 1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel (8 Over 7) – $264,500

1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel (8 Over 7)

The coin is a result of an error in late 1917 that led to an overdate where a working die with a 1917 impression was given another impression from a hub dated 1918.

This overdate feature makes the coin unique and adds to its rarity.

While the exact mintage is unknown, estimates suggest an original production figure of about 100,000 pieces. The scarcity is further increased by the fact that the overdate feature went unnoticed for an extended period, allowing many coins to circulate extensively before its discovery.

Highest auction records:

3. 1916 Buffalo Nickel: Doubled Die Obverse (DDO) – $264,500

1916 Buffalo Nickel: Doubled Die Obverse

More than 63 million 1916 Buffalo Nickels were struck. A few of these ended up with a Doubled Die Obverse error that increased the value of the common coin significantly.

An MS64 DDO nickel, in this case, is worth $275,000, with only three known to exist at this grade. The upside to the DDO variety is that the coin is still valuable even in poor grades such as AU53 (worth $42,000).

None has been found at MS65 or higher.

Highest auction records:

4. 1917-S Buffalo Nickel – $138,000

1917-S Buffalo Nickel

This high-price $138,000 is an MS67 nickel struck in San Francisco. It is the finest 1917-S nickel known to date and a highly valuable collectible among enthusiasts since 1917 nickels are hard to find in well-struck conditions.

Other 1917-S nickels worth money are those in Mint State: MS60 is worth $1,100, $1,750 for MS63, $4,250 for MS65, and $6,500 for MS66.

Highest auction records:

5. 1867 Shield Nickel: Rays – $132,250

1867 Shield Nickel Rays

The 1867 nickel is a proof striking from February 1867 which is considered extremely rare due to its early day mintage. This was just 10 years after the first proof coins were struck in the US Mint.

Only 25 proofs were struck on that date, and it is estimated that no more than 10 pieces exist today.

Highest auction records:

6. 1926-S Buffalo Nickel – $115,000

1926-S Buffalo Nickel

The 1926-S Buffalo Nickel has a notably low mintage of only 970,000 pieces. This scarcity is a key factor contributing to its desirability among collectors.

At the time of its issue, the general public showed little excitement about the 1926-S nickel, and the majority of the small mintage entered circulation. It wasn’t until the mid-1930s, during the Depression era, that collecting minor coinage became a popular pastime. The awareness of the coin’s scarcity grew, and its popularity and value increased over the years.

The nickel is worth $5,500 in MS60, $11,000 in MS63, and $125,000 in MS65 as per PCGS Price Guide. None have been found above MS66.

Highest auction records:

7. 1919-S Buffalo Nickel – $109,250

1919-S Buffalo Nickel

The 1919-S Buffalo Nickel is generally known for being poorly struck, especially on the reverse. However, MS66 coins stand out as an exception. They are the most phenomenally well-struck examples of the 1919-S Buffalo Nickel, with impressive detail on both the obverse and reverse.

Highest auction records:

8. 1920-D Buffalo Nickel – $97,750

1920-D Buffalo Nickel

After striking this 1920-D nickel, the Denver Mint went for three years until 1924 without striking any nickel. This was due to a financial slowdown caused by the economic recession of 1921-1922. This historical significance adds to the coin’s rarity and hence value.

The highest known grade is MS67, worth $155,000.

Highest auction records:

9. 1913 Buffalo Nickel – $90,000

1913 Buffalo Nickel

Only a handful of these coins have appeared at auctions over the years. There are two varieties; Type One and Type Two, with the most valuable being Type One.

Both types are extremely rare in PR68 grades. Less than 20 have been certified by PCGS which makes them tough coins to come by.

Also, the 1913 Type One Buffalo Nickel is an elite one-year type coin. It refers to the first design of the Buffalo Nickel series, which was modified later in 1913 to address striking and wear issues. As a result, coins of the Type One design are more sought after by collectors due to their limited mintage.

Highest auction records:

10. 1880 Shield Nickel – $88,125

1880 Shield Nickel

Only 16,000 nickels were minted in 1880 for business circulation. It is the least struck nickel among all Shield Nickels making it a rare gem in the landscape of 19th Century nickels.

MS66 nickels are worth $125,000 as per PCGS and any coin in MS60 or above will fetch at least $17,500 in the open market.

Highest auction records:

11. 1937-D Buffalo Nickel: Three-Legged – $86,250

1937-D Buffalo Nickel: Three-Legged

The three-legged 1937-D nickel came from a die error where the die was over polished leading to an almost complete removal of one leg in the image of the Buffalo (bison) on the reverse side of the coin.

It is a one-of-a-kind variety that has made this coin among the most famous 20th-century nickels.

The highest known grade is MS67, currently valued at $150,000.

Highest auction records:

12. 1910 Liberty Nickel – $84,000

1910 Liberty Nickel

Only 2,405 Proof coins were struck in 1910 making it a very rare coin to find. This particular high-value PR68 coin is the most pristine type of any 1910 Proof coin known to date, featuring an astounding depth of reflectivity, a DCAM surface finish, and no contact marks.

Highest auction records:

13. 1879/8 Shield Nickel – $84,000

1879/8 Shield Nickel

Proof coins rarely have varieties or errors since they are made under meticulous conditions to ensure the highest quality. However, this used to be harder before the 20th Century, resulting in errors such as the 1879/8 Shield Nickel with an overdate error.

The overdate (8 over 9) on the obverse is a small minority in an already scarce coin. Only 3,200 of 1879 proof coins were made.

Highest auction record:

14. 1923-S Buffalo Nickel – $67,562.50

1923-S Buffalo Nickel

1923-S nickels had a major minting problem which resulted in many coins being of low quality. Finding one in MS65 grade is rare which speaks volumes to its scarcity in the best condition.

This particular version sold for such a high price because it is one of only three 1923-S Buffalo Nickels in MS66 at PCGS.

Highest auction record:

15. 1929 Buffalo Nickel – $63,350

1929 Buffalo Nickel

These include coins from Philadelphia and San Francisco (with an ‘S’ mint mark). It is similar to the above 1923-S nickels, they are common in circulated grades but extremely rare in Gem Conditions above MS65.

There are only a few coins above MS66 today, all worth more than $9,000.

Highest auction records:

16. 1935 Buffalo Nickel – $57,500

1935 Buffalo Nickel

This coin is highly valuable because it is one of only six 1935 Buffalo Nickels at MS68. The coins are common in circulation grades up to MS66, however, the nickel becomes scarce at MS67 and is almost impossible to find at MS67+ or MS68.

Highest auction records:

17. 1925-D Buffalo Nickel – $57,500

1925-D Buffalo Nickel

With a mintage of over 4,000,000, the 1925-D nickels are not rare. However, they become scarce in the highest grades.

MS66+ is the highest level with just three coins graded by PCGS. PCGS has graded 15 of them at MS66 and 119 at MS65.

Any 1925-D Buffalo Nickel above MS65 is worth more than $4,000.

Highest auction records:

18. 1918 Buffalo Nickel – $55,200

1918 Buffalo Nickel

These coins include those from Philadelphia and San Francisco (with an ‘S’ mint mark).

With a mintage of over 32,000,000, these coins are not hard to find in regular circulation grades. They are difficult to locate in well-struck conditions, with MS67+ being the highest known grade, worth $70,000 in today’s market (only one coin is known to be MS67+).

Highest auction records:

19. 1915 Buffalo Nickel – $52,900

1915 Buffalo Nickel

Only 1,050 Proof coins were struck in 1915. This scarce nickel has the second-lowest mintage in the Buffalo Nickel series.

You can easily find them in PR65 and PR66 but nickels in PR67 and above are considered rare. Only 10 coins have been graded at PR68 while only one has been found at PR69.

Highest auction records:

20. 1915-S Buffalo Nickel – $43,125

1915-S Buffalo Nickel

1915-S nickels are low-mintage coins that have become harder to find over the years. It is difficult to find them even in MS65 and only a handful exist in MS66 or higher.

Please note that the coin is common in Proof and uncirculated conditions but only rare in circulated grades.

MS67 is the highest known grade with less than 6 in existence; worth $50,000 each.

Highest auction records:

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Conclusion

If you are looking for the rarest and most valuable nickel, then it would be best to invest in finding the best grade from every year.

There are a few unique varieties and mint errors that can increase the value of the coin but concentrating on popular 20th century nickels with few coins in well-struck condition will guarantee you a precious collectible.

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