Table of Contents
- 1942 Nickel Value Chart
- History of the 1942 Jefferson Nickel
- 1942 Jefferson Nickel Types
- Features of the 1942 Jefferson Nickel
- 1939 Lincoln Penny Value Guides
- 1942 No Mint mark nickel
- 1942 proof Jefferson nickel Value
- 1942 D nickel Value
- 1942 S nickel Value
- 1942 Jefferson Nickel Grading
- Rare 1942 Nickel Error List
- FAQ about the 1942 Jefferson Nickel
Thanks to their exciting history, wartime Jefferson nickels produced in 1942 are highly collectible. When the US became involved in WWII in December 1941, the Army’s need for nickel to make artillery increased. Therefore war nickels had a different composition than most other pieces in the series.
At the beginning of this year, cupronickel coins were standard, but that changed later in the year when millions of wartime pieces containing silver appeared. The new variety consisted of 35% precious metal with the letter P or S over the Monticello dome on the coin reverse. The 1942 nickel value depends on numerous factors. Let’s see.
1942 Nickel Value Chart
|Condition||1942 nickel||1942 P nickel||1942 S nickel||1942 D nickel||1942 D nickel D Over D|
History of the 1942 Jefferson Nickel
In the mid-1942, standard nickel composition suddenly changed for the first time since this coin type was released in 1886. Such a situation lasted until 1945.
As soon as the US was involved in WWII, the Army started looking for nickel resources for making artillery. Therefore, Congress passed a law for using an alternative alloy for popular coins to replace the existing ones.
1942 Jefferson Nickel Types
|Philadelphia||1942 No Mint mark nickel (pre-war composition)||49,789,000|
|Philadelphia||1942 P nickel (wartime composition)||57,873,000|
|Philadelphia||1942 No Mint mark proof nickel||29,600|
|Philadelphia||1942 P proof nickel||27,600|
|San Francisco||1942 S nickel (wartime composition)||32,900,000|
|Denver||1942 D nickel (pre-war composition)||13,938,000|
That way, Felix Schlag’s Jefferson nickels minted since 1938 became a silver coin with 35% of this precious metal. This situation lasted until 1945 when the US Mint returned nickels made of the old metal alloy, making so-called wartime nickels collectible.
Also read: Top 10 Most Valuable Nickels Worth Money
Features of the 1942 Jefferson Nickel
Jefferson nickels minted in 1942 are among the most interesting pieces in the series, with a few variations, compositions, and mint mark positions. Those produced in Philadelphia in the second year half were the first American coinage with the struck P mint mark.
The obverse of the 1942 Jefferson nickel
Like other nickel coins minted after 1938, those from 1942 have Thomas Jefferson on the obverse. Besides, there are inscriptions, including:
- IN GOD WE TRUST along the left edge
- LIBERTY and the minting year on the right edge
The reverse of the 1942 Jefferson nickel
These coins’ reverse depicts Monticello, the President’s Virginia home, with additional information such as:
- E PLURIBUS UNUM on the top edge
- MONTICELLO, FIVE CENTS, and the country name in the bottom coin half
As for the mint mark, you can recognize a few coin types. While pre-war nickels came with the letter D right of the building or without the mint mark, the situation differs with wartime pieces. They have the mint mark S or P above the Monticello dome.
1942 Jefferson nickel Details
|Face value||Five cents ($0.05)|
|Compound||Cupronickel pre-war composition; wartime composition containing copper, silver, and manganese|
|Coin thickness||0.0768 inches (1.95 mm)|
|Coin diameter||0.835 inches (21.2 mm)|
|Coin weight||0.1607 troy ounces (5 g)|
|Silver weight||0.0562 troy ounces (1.75 g)|
Other features of the 1942 Jefferson nickel
You can recognize two Jefferson nickel varieties with the 1942 minting date. At the beginning of the year, the US Mint struck cupronickel five-cent coins (pre-war compositions) but switched to wartime composition (56% copper + 35% silver with manganese) later.
Their measurements are the same, so these coins weigh 0.17637 ounces (5 g) and have a diameter of 0.83504 inches (21.2 mm).
1939 Lincoln Penny Value Guides
The total nickel mintage in three mints was 154,557,200 pieces in 1942, including coins with different compositions and mint marks.
1942 No Mint mark nickel
The Philadelphia mint produced two Jefferson nickel types in 1941, including:
1942 no mint mark nickel with pre-war cupronickel composition
The mint produced 49,789,000 coins Type 1 before the US entered the war. Preserved pieces in low grade cost a few dollars nowadays, while those in the mint state come with the price of $3 to $125.
However, those with Full Steps are a bit more pricey, and you can buy one for $30 to $750, depending on the quality. The most expensive coin in the set is one FS specimen sold at $11,500 in 2007, but the real surprise is one low-ranking nickel bought for $9,988 in 2016.
1942 P nickel with wartime composition containing 35% silver
Precisely 57,873,000 nickels were minted after the beginning of the war. Interestingly, pieces Type 2 were the first American coins with the P mint mark struck on the reverse. Their current price range is from $1 for circulated pieces to $60 for those with the MS 67 grade.
As always, nickels with Full Steps are more pricey. Most cost $20 to $240, but specimens with MS 68 rating often reach an impressive $2,000. The most expensive Jefferson nickel Type 2 with the P mint mark was sold on eBay for $5,950.
1942 proof Jefferson nickel Value
You can recognize two proof coin types minted in Philadelphia in 1942, including:
1942 no mint mark proof nickel with pre-war cupronickel composition
The Philadelphia mint produced 29,600 proof nickels without the mint mark in 1942, and it was the last proof coins’ mintage until 1950. The 1942 copper-nickel nickels Type 1 are collectible nowadays and cost approximately $13 to $165.
The only exception is scarce pieces with the PR 68 ranking that cost $1,500 to $2,000. Besides, specimens with cameo contrast are typically costly, and collectors usually set aside $2,000 to $3,600 to get one.
The most expensive proof coin in the set is the one ranking PR 68+. Its price at an auction organized in 2023 was $16,450. Interestingly, the 1942 PR 66 CAM nickel Type 1 was paid far less, $6,613.
1942 P proof nickel with wartime composition containing 35% silver
Proof nickels Type 2 have the mint mark P on the reverse. Initially, 27,600 of these coins containing silver were minted in Philadelphia, and their current price is $30 to $264. Only top-quality ones in PR 68 grade can be found at $2,100 to $2,800.
The most expensive proof coin Type 2 is the 1942 PR 68+ nickel paid $12,600 in 2021. Paradoxically, those with CAM and DCAM quality were less expensive, although their estimated prices were significantly higher. So, one piece with cameo contrast reached $14,100 at an auction, while the DCAM coin was paid $6,463 in 2021.
1942 D nickel Value
The Denver mint struck only nickels with pre-war cupronickel composition, 13,938,000 pieces in total. Their value nowadays is from $6 to $140, depending on quality, but those with Full Steps are typically more expensive.
Even though their average price is $40 to $350, collectors are prepared to quickly set aside about $4,200 for pieces in ultimate condition. The Jefferson nickel with the D mint mark and MS 67+ grade won the record price of $1,800, while the one with better quality and Full Steps was paid $4,320 in 2021.
1942 S nickel Value
Unlike the mint in Denver, San Francisco only produced nickels with wartime composition. The mintage of coins containing 35% silver was 32,900,000 pieces.
Their value on the current market is $1 to $4 for coins spending years in circulation, while those in uncirculated condition typically cost $6 to $50. The 1942 FS Jefferson nickel value is a bit higher, and you can find them at $20 to $500, depending on the preservation level.
1942 Jefferson Nickel Grading
Grading is the most reliable way to determine a coin’s value and price. Most nickels minted in 1942 are affordable, making those in higher grades more collectible. Only rare specimens with ultimate quality reach high prices at auctions.
Rare 1942 Nickel Error List
The 1942 nickels came with three specific and highly collectible error types. They include one of a kind coin found in 1961.
Frith 1942 nickel
The Frith 1942 error nickel with 1941 S reverse is a one-of-a-kind coin found in 1961. Even though it is one of the war coins made of 35% silver, it has the S mint mark right of Monticello instead above the dome, like others. Its estimated price is about $175,000.
Re-punched mint mark
These coins have the re-punched P, D, or S mint mark on the reverse. The most popular is the 1942 D over horizontal D coin error with the twice-struck mint mark at an angle of 90 degrees.
These nickels are pretty rare and expensive so you can count on $135 to $5,750 per piece. Those with Full Steps are even more pricey, with an estimated price range from $3,000 to $7,250, depending on condition.
One of these pieces reached an auction record of $15,275 in 2013. On the other hand, the most costly specimen in the set is the one with Full Steps, paid $32,200 in 2006.
The other variety includes coins with doubled P mint mark. The most expensive is the 1942 P/P MS 66 Type 2 RPM nickel, paid $1,050 in 2022.
Double die obverse
The DDO nickel error appeared when the die struck the coin obverse twice or three times during minting. You can expect each piece to be unique, with doubling on different design parts, but their price is always about a few hundred dollars.
The most common error is among 1942 P nickels Type 1, with doubled letters in the motto and word LIBERTY. An error coin won a record price of $765 at an auction organized in 2018.
Also read: 14 Most Valuable Nickel Errors Worth Money
FAQ about the 1942 Jefferson Nickel
What makes a 1942 Jefferson nickel rare?
Most 1942 nickels are abundant and affordable, except for a few error coins. The rarest is the Frith 1942 error nickel with the wrongly positioned mint mark S. This unique piece is probably worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it has not been officially evaluated yet.
Which 1942 Jefferson nickels are the most valuable?
- 1942 D/D MS 64 FS D/horizontal D nickel – $32,200 (2006)
- 1942 PR 68+ nickel Type 1 – $16,450 (2023)
- 1942 D/D MS 66 D/horizontal D nickel – $15,275 (2013)
- 1942 P PR 67 CAM nickel Type 2 – $14,100 (2014)
- 1942 PR 68+ nickel Type 2 – $12,600 (2021)
- 1942 MS 67 FS nickel Type 1 – $11,500 (2007)
- 1942 G 6 nickel Type 1 – $9,988 (2016)
- 1942 PR 66 CAM nickel Type 1 – $6,613 (2004)
- 1942 P PR 66 DCAM nickel Type 2 – $6,463 (2021)
- 1942 P MS 68 nickel Type 2 – $5,950 (2021)
- 1942 P MS 67+ FS nickel Type 1 – $5,288 (2016)
- 1942 D MS 68 FS nickel – $4,320 (2021)
- 1942 D MS 67+ nickel – $1,800 (2019)
- 1942 P/P MS 66 Type 2 RPM nickel – $1,050 (2022)
- 1942 MS 65 FS DDO nickel – $765 (2018)
How much is the 1942 No Mint mark Jefferson nickel worth?
The 1942 cupronickel nickels Type 1 without the mint mark typically cost $3 to $125, while those with Full Steps range from $30 to $750. On the other hand, you can buy the Type 2 nickels containing silver with the P mint mark for $1 to $60. As always, you should expect pieces with Full Steps to be more valuable.
What Jefferson nickels reached the highest price?
- 1954 S MS 67 FS nickel Type 1 – $35,250
- 1969 D MS 65 FS nickel Type 1 – $33,600
- 1938 D MS 68+ FS nickel Type 1 – $33,600
- 1949 D/S MS 67 nickel Type 1 – $32,900
- 1964 SMS SP 68 FS nickel Type 1 – $32,900
- 1942 D/D D/Horizontal D MS 64 nickel Type 1 – $32,200
- 1960 D MS 64 nickel Type 1 – $32,200