Nickels: Great coins to collect

By Katie (Katie) on March 21, 2013

A nickel is boring, right? Wrong! Come and find out what is so interesting about these ubiquitous coins.

These fun coins could not be more interesting, although at a first glance they don't look so impressive. After you read this, you might want to go out and look through some nickel rolls and find some interesting finds.

Jefferson nickels were made during the years 1938 to the present, with a brief interruption during the war. The nickels produced during the war contain 35% silver, and are very valuable! From 1964 to the present, the mint mark, which indicates where in the country the coin was minted, is found under the date. For nickels minted prior to 1964, all the way back to the buffalo nickels, the mint mark is beside the building in the back.

2013-03-19/Katie/cf58dfWar nickels:

If you ever recieve a nickel or are looking through old nickels, and if the coin is made in the years 1942 to 1945, always look on top of the dome in the back of the coin. In the year 1942, both regular nickels and "war nickels" were minted.  If there is a letter on top of the dome, then you have a war nickel! They are comprised of 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% magnesium which makes them much more valuable than regular nickels. During the war, nickel was used to make important items for the military, which caused a shortage of nickel, so the mint used silver instead of nickel. This is a photo of a war nickel. Notice the "P" mint mark above the dome. Only war nickels have these prominent marks!


Buffalo nickels:

Nickels minted from 1913 to 1938 are referred to as buffalo nickels, and they are very rare these days. During the year 1938, both buffalo nickels and Jefferson nickels were made. Buffalo nickels in good condition can be worth $45 or more. The designer was James Earle Fraser, an American sculptor. The mint mark is on the back of the coin under the "five cents".. The coin pictured below has no mint mark, which means that it was minted in  Philadelphia! I have circled where the mint mark would have been if it had been minted somewhere other than Philadelphia.

Some rare buffalo nickels have a buffalo with only 3 legs! If you find one of those, you have found a very valuable error coin! The buffalo design lives on today in the 1 ounce gold bullion American Buffalo coin.


Liberty nickels:

Before the buffalo nickel was made, the liberty head or "V" nickel was made from 1883 to 1913. This nickel was initially minted without the word "cents", which was a problem because criminals would coat these coins with gold, and sell them as 5 dollar gold pieces. When the mint realized this, they changed the liberty head nickels to have the word "cents" , and then later stopped making the nickel altogether. Here is  a photo of a liberty head nickel with the word "cents".


Shield nickels:

Before the liberty head was made, the mint made shield nickels. It was the first nickel to be made with the copper-nickel alloy that the nickels today are made of. It was made in the years 1866 to 1883. On the back of the coin is a shield from which it gets its name. The designer was James B. Londacre.


A valuable store of value.

The actual melt value of a nickel fluctuates, but in recent years the price of the nickel and copper have risen enough to make the melt value of a nickel actually exceed its 5 cent face value. Many people believe that saving nickels is a good idea to protect against rising inflation in the future. It may happen in the not-so-distant future that common nickels may be worth many, many times their face value! Then you can sell your old nickels that you have found for more than you bought them for. Save your nickels!

Images courtesy of wikipedia and licensed under the GNU FDL license.

Related articles:
coins, nickels

« More articles

Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Excellent! Sharon Mar 25, 2013 3:48 PM 28


Visit my coin store where I sell Indian head pennies, copper rounds and much more.

» Home
» Articles
» Store

Cubit owners: