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10 Rare Nickels & Factors to Determine Their Value

Nickels may seem like small change, but certain rare varieties can be worth much more than their face value. From historical errors to limited mintages, these coins have captured the attention of collectors and investors alike. Whether you’re new to numismatics or a seasoned collector, understanding the factors that contribute to their value can help you navigate this fascinating hobby.

1. 1913 Liberty Head Nickel

The 1913 Liberty Head Nickel is one of the most famous and valuable nickels in American numismatics. With only five known specimens in existence, each coin has a storied history and commands a high price at auction.


2. 1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo Nickel

A minting error led to the creation of the 1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo Nickel. The buffalo’s front leg is missing due to overpolishing of the die, making this variety highly sought after by collectors for its rarity and unique appearance.

3. 1942/1-P Overdate Jefferson Nickel

During World War II, the shortage of nickel led to changes in coin production. The 1942/1-P Overdate Jefferson Nickel is a result of a die error where the “1” was overpunched over a “2,” creating a distinctive and valuable variety.


4. 1914/3 Buffalo Nickel

The 1914/3 Buffalo Nickel is another notable overdate error, where the 1914 date was struck over a 1913 die. This variety is rare and prized for its historical significance and the visible overdate.

5. 1883 “No Cents” Liberty Head Nickel

In 1883, the Liberty Head Nickel was initially minted without the word “CENTS” on the reverse side, leading to confusion and counterfeiting attempts. This variety, known as the “No Cents” nickel, is valuable, especially in high grades.


6. 1916 Doubled Die Buffalo Nickel

The 1916 Doubled Die Buffalo Nickel exhibits strong doubling on the date and other parts of the design, making it a striking variety sought after by collectors of error coins.

7. 1939-D Reverse of 1940 Jefferson Nickel

In 1939, the Denver Mint struck Jefferson Nickels with a reverse die intended for the 1940 coins, resulting in a variety known as the 1939-D Reverse of 1940. This error is highly collectible due to its unique design elements.


8. 2005-D Speared Bison Jefferson Nickel

The 2005-D Speared Bison Jefferson Nickel features a die gouge resembling a spear running through the bison on the reverse side. This error was quickly noticed by collectors, adding to its value and appeal.

9. 1950-D/S Overmintmark Jefferson Nickel

The 1950-D/S Overmintmark Jefferson Nickel is a variety where the “D” mintmark was inadvertently punched over an “S” mintmark, creating a distinct and rare error that attracts collectors.


10. 1939 Reverse of 1940 Jefferson Nickel

Similar to the Denver Mint issue, the 1939 Reverse of 1940 Jefferson Nickel from the Philadelphia Mint also features a reverse die intended for the 1940 coins, making it a sought-after variety.

Factors to Determine Value

When assessing the value of rare nickels, consider factors such as:

  • Rarity: How many coins were minted and how many survive today?
  • Condition (Grade): The state of preservation affects the coin’s value significantly.
  • Historical Significance: Coins with unique historical stories or errors are often more valuable.
  • Demand: Collector interest and market trends influence prices.
  • Authentication: Ensuring the coin’s authenticity through certification enhances its value.


Exploring the world of rare nickels offers a glimpse into American history and the artistry of coin minting. Whether you’re intrigued by error varieties or historical rarities, each nickel tells a story that adds depth to your numismatic collection. Understanding these factors can help you appreciate the value and allure of these small but significant pieces of American coinage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Rare Nickels:

Q1: What makes a nickel valuable? Rare nickels are often valuable due to factors such as limited mintages, historical errors, or unique designs that appeal to collectors.


Q2: How can I determine the value of a rare nickel? The value of a rare nickel depends on factors like its rarity, condition (grade), demand among collectors, and the historical significance of any errors or designs.

Q3: Are rare nickels only valuable if they’re in perfect condition? While condition (grade) does affect value, even rare nickels in less-than-perfect condition can hold significant worth due to their rarity or historical importance.


Q4: Where can I buy or sell rare nickels? Rare nickels can be bought or sold through reputable coin dealers, auctions, online marketplaces, or numismatic events. It’s important to ensure authenticity and value when purchasing.

Q5: How should I store and protect rare nickels? To preserve the value of rare nickels, store them in protective holders or albums designed for numismatic preservation. Avoid excessive handling and exposure to moisture or harsh environments.


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