Value of Old Nickels
The term nickel is used to refer to any five cents coins dated from 1866 and later. The most popular coin series from this group is likely the buffalo nickel. Certainly the most famous nickel of all time is the 1913 V Nickel. There are a few other coins in the mix that you will want to be aware of.
Shield Nickels (1866-1883) – There are two types of shield nickels. The ones dated as 1866 and some 1867s have a reverse showing stars and rays surrounding a large five. The other 1867s and all shield nickels from 1868 to 1883 have a back design without the rays. 1879, 1880, and 1881 shield nickels all have mintages under 100,000 and they are rare no matter what. Any shield nickel in perfect condition will be worth $100 or more.
Liberty aka V Nickels (1883-1913) – With exception of the famous 1913 nickel, the 1885 and 1886 are by far the rarest V Nickels in the series. The other dates are all extremely common. The 1913 Liberty Nickel was never released for circulation. If you have one from 1913, then it is either completely fake or the date has been altered. If you can’t see the date on your nickel then the value is about ten cents as a curiosity item.
Buffalo Nickels (1913-1938) – These nickels are sometimes called Indian Head nickels. This is a popular series with lots of varieties. The 1937-D three leg version is desirable and always worth at least a few hundred dollars. Some over-dates from the teens are also elusive. The rarest standalone year/mintmark combo is the 1913-S. The 1921-S is also a rare coin. The majority of buffalo nickels are very common though. You can buy heavily circulated coins like these with ease for about 25 cents per coin or less.
War Nickels (1942-1945) – Most Jefferson nickels are just worth face value. The exceptions are the nickels from 1942 to 1945 that have the mint mark above Monticello on the reverse of coins. Those trade based on the price of silver. As an example, when silver is at $16, one war nickel is worth about 90 cents.
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Jefferson Nickel (1938-2003)
Jefferson War Nickel (1942-1945)
Westward Journey Nickels (2004-2005)
Return to Monticello Nickel (2006-Present)