Most Expensive Coins

The 10 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels

The 10 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels

If you want to collect a few Jefferson nickels and give them a closer look. The Jefferson nickel has been around since 1938 and you probably handle it every day. But did you know some are worth more than just five cents? The most valuable ones can fetch thousands of dollars. Here’s how to recognize these treasures so you don’t spend them unwittingly.

What is a Jefferson Nickel?

The Jefferson nickel is the one most folks think of when it comes to nickels in the U.S. It’s been around since 1938 and shows Thomas Jefferson’s face. Over time, it’s been tweaked a bit, but it’s still what we use today.

  • Front: Every Jefferson nickel has Thomas Jefferson’s picture. Before 2005, it was a side view, but since then, it’s a three-quarter view.
  • Front Inscriptions: The front says “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “Liberty.” Earlier ones have capital “Liberty,” while later ones have Jefferson’s handwriting. They also show the year.
  • Back: The back always has Monticello, Jefferson’s home, with “Monticello” written below.
  • Back Inscriptions: It also has “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” “FIVE CENTS,” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.”

List Of 10 Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels

  1. 1938-D Full Steps – $33,600
  2. 1939 Doubled Monticello – $20,562
  3. 1940 Reverse of 1938 – $28,750
  4. 1949-D D Over S Full Steps – $32,900
  5. 1942-D D Over Horizontal D – $32,200
  6. 1953-S Full Steps – $24,000
  7. 1962 Full Steps – $21,150
  8. 1964 Full Steps With Satin Finish – $22,800
  9. 1964 Special Mint Set Full Steps – $32,900
  10. 1939 Reverse of 1940 – $23,500

1. 1938-D Full Steps: $33,600

In some years, it’s rare to find a Jefferson nickel with all the steps of Monticello visible on the back. For the first-year issue, it’s especially hard to find one in near-mint condition. A 1938 Jefferson nickel from the Denver mint sold for $33,600 at auction in 2022.

2. 1939 Doubled Monticello: $20,562

Some 1939 Jefferson nickels have a double stamping on the back. You can see it clearly in “MONTICELLO” and “FIVE CENTS.” These coins are usually valuable, regardless of condition. In near-mint condition, they’re very rare. One sold for $20,562 in 2016.

3. 1940 Reverse of 1938: $28,750

A unique error occurs when the wrong year’s die is used to stamp the coin’s back. In 1940, some nickels got stamped with a 1938 die. You can spot them by checking the steps of Monticello; if they’re wavy and less clear, you might have one. A mint condition piece sold for $28,750 in 2011.

4. 1949-D D Over S Full Steps: $32,900

To meet nickel demand in the Midwest, the San Francisco Mint sent a die for the 1949 nickel to Denver. The nickel got stamped there, but then a D was added to show it was made in Denver. This makes the D over S nickel rare, especially in full steps and near-mint condition. One in great shape sold for $32,900 in 2014.

5. 1942-D D Over Horizontal D: $32,200

In 1942, the Denver Mint accidentally stamped a few nickels with a horizontal D, then stamped over it with a regular D. Only around 10 coins in perfect condition with this error are known to exist, making it one of the rarest Jefferson nickels. A mint condition one with full steps sold for $32,200 in 2006.

6. 1953-S Full Steps: $24,000

The 1953 Jefferson nickel from the San Francisco Mint is rare to find with full steps, making it very valuable. Only 24 are known to exist with full steps, and one sold for $24,000 in 2019.

7. 1962 Full Steps: $21,150

Even though 1962 Jefferson nickels are everywhere, the large number minted led to worn dies. This makes distinct full-step coins very rare, especially in near uncirculated conditions. One sold for $21,150 in 2013.

8. 1964 Full Steps With Satin Finish: $22,800

The full steps 1964 Jefferson nickel is rare, but it’s even rarer with a soft satin finish. Only about 19 exist with this finish, likely from an unofficial mint set. One in great condition sold for $22,800 in 2019.

9. 1964 Special Mint Set Full Steps: $32,900

A special mint set (SMS) is like a proof set, made in small amounts for testing dies and for collectors. There are only about 20 to 50 of the 1964 SMS nickels, and they’re worth a lot, especially in great condition with full steps on Monticello. One sold for $32,900 in 2016.

10. 1939 Reverse of 1940: $23,500

“A 1939 Jefferson nickel with a 1940 reverse design is rare and valuable, especially if it’s in excellent condition. Over 120 million of these coins were made, but only around 40,000 are left. Very few are in good enough shape to display the full steps. If they do, they could be worth thousands. In 2014, one sold for $23,500.”

What Year Jefferson Nickels Are Worth the Most?

Most Valuable Jefferson Nickels:

  • 1950-D: Worth $600 to $800.
  • 1939-D: Rare with only 3.5 million made, valued up to $300.
  • 1943-P 3/2: Error makes it worth up to $400.
  • 1945-P Double Die Reverse: Double stamped “Monticello” and “Five Cents,” worth up to $1,000.

Which Nickels Should I Keep?

Nickels Worth Keeping:

  • Older Nickels: Keep anything before 1960 for potential value.
  • War Nickels: Made from 1942 to 1945, these have more silver and are valuable.
  • Nickels with Errors: Any with obvious minting errors can be valuable.
  • Low Mintage Nickels: Coins made in low quantities are always worth keeping.

Why is the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel so Rare?

The 1913 Liberty Head Nickel is incredibly rare because only five were mysteriously minted after the design was discontinued. Its value lies in its questionable legality and the mystery surrounding its production. As they were never meant for circulation, they’re highly sought after by collectors, often selling for over $3 million. Collecting nickels can be profitable if you know what to look for, but ultimately, their value is subjective.

Also Read – Top 13 Most Valuable State Quarter Coins Worth Money


Jefferson nickels have a fascinating journey through American coinage history, with certain years and variations for their rarity and value. From the iconic 1913 Liberty Head Nickel to the unique errors and low mintage pieces, each coin has a story of its own. 

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting, understanding which nickels to keep and what makes them valuable can turn a casual hobby into a potentially lucrative venture. Remember, the value of these coins grows beyond their economic worth, as they have with them the intrigue of history and the thrill of discovery.

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