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Have you come across a 1954 Jefferson nickel in your pocket change and wondered whether this old coin is worth anything?
Or are you considering adding a 1954 nickel to your Jefferson collection?
Jefferson nickels have been circulating for over 80 years and are some of the most collectible. So, if you come across an old one, it might be worth some money, depending on its condition.
We wrote this guide to explain everything you need to know about the 1954 nickel value.
We’ll explore the coin’s history, unique features, and grading tips. You will also discover some interesting error varieties that can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.
So, let’s jump in and answer the question: How much is a 1954 nickel worth?
1954 Nickel Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Good||Fine||Extremely Fine||Uncirculated|
|1954 No-Mint Mark Nickel Value||$0.10||$0.10||$0.10||$625|
|1954-D Nickel Value||$0.10||$0.10||$0.10||$500|
|1954-S Nickel Value||$0.10||$0.10||$0.10||$400|
|1954 Proof Nickel Value||–||–||–||$1,550|
The History of the 1954 Nickel
The 1954 nickel belongs to the Jefferson Nickel series, first struck in 1938. The Jefferson nickel replaced the Buffalo nickel (1913-1938), which had been in circulation for 25 years, so replacing it did not require Congressional approval.
The Buffalo nickel was difficult to strike, and the Mint was glad to replace it with a newly designed coin. So, it organized a competition to find a designer for the new nickel to commemorate the Founding Father and our country’s third president, Thomas Jefferson.
After reviewing hundreds of applications, the Mint selected Felix Schlag, a German-born American sculptor, to design the new nickel.
After several iterations and changes to Schlag’s design, the Mint finally struck the coins at all minting facilities, including Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco, by October 1938. The Thomas Jefferson nickels were officially released into circulation in November 1938.
The Jefferson nickel comprised 95 percent nickel metal, but Congress authorized a reduction of the use of this metal as part of the World War II efforts. The Mint eventually settled for an alloy constituting 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese and has used this composition since 1942.
Also read: Top 10 Most Valuable Nickels Worth Money
The Features of the 1954 Nickel
We’ll now look at the attributes of a 1954 Jefferson nickel. Familiarizing yourself with these features can help you identify the 1954 nickels worth money.
The Obverse of the 1954 Nickel
On the obverse of the 1954 nickel, you will see President Theodore Jefferson’s left-facing portrait with his hair in a low ponytail.
Our country’s motto, IN GOD WE TRUST, appears on the left along the rim, while the word LIBERTY and the date are shown on the right with a star separating them.
The Reverse of the 1954 Nickel
The reverse of the 1954 nickel has a lot more going. The most dominant feature is Jefferson’s house, the Monticello, in all its full glory. You can see the dome, pillars, and stairs leading up to the presidential house.
The word MONTICELLO is spelled right underneath the house, followed by the coin’s denomination, FIVE CENTS.
You will notice the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM at the top of the coin, while along the rim at the bottom is the country’s name, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Other Features of the 1954 Nickel
The 1954 nickel comprises 75% Copper and 25% Nickel.
The coin is quite large, measuring 21.20 millimeters in diameter and 1.96 millimeters in thickness and weighing 5.00 grams. It has a plain edge.
The 1954 nickels struck in Denver and San Francisco have mint marks D and S, respectively. The ones struck in Philadelphia that year have a mint mark neither on the obverse nor the reverse.
1954 Nickel Value Guides
In this section, we’ll take a deep dive and answer the question: How much is a 1954 nickel worth?
The answer depends on several factors, such as the coin’s condition, rarity, and errors. Uncirculated coins with visible Full Steps on the Monticello are worth more than circulated examples in or below average condition.
There are four varieties of 1954 nickel whose value we will explore in detail below. They include the:
- 1954 No-Mint Mark Nickel
- 1954-D Nickel
- 1954-S Nickel
- 1954 Proof Nickel
1954 No-Mint Mark Nickel Value
The Philadelphia mint struck about 47,684,050 Jefferson nickels in 1954. Per tradition, the coins from this facility do not have a mint mark on the obverse or reverse.
The Philadelphia mintage was the second highest after Denver. In circulated condition, 1954 no-mint mark nickels are worth between $0.10 and $0.20. This is slightly more than the face value of 5 cents but not as profitable.
Uncirculated no-mint mark nickels from 1954 are equally affordable, with costs starting from $0.35 for an MS60 nickel to $35 for one graded MS65. Nickels in gem condition graded MS67 can fetch as much as $625.
The value of Jefferson nickels also varies with the appearance of the so-called Full Steps on the Monticello building.
Coins with all six full steps are considered to be well-struck and can be worth more. A 1954 nickel with six full steps graded MS65 can fetch up to $550, while one with five steps at the same grade can pull in about $350.
The most expensive Full Steps 1954 no-mint mark nickel was graded MS66 and sold for an impressive $8,813 at a 2012 Stack’s Bowers auction.
1954-D Nickel Value
The Denver mint scored the highest mintage in 1954, producing 117,183,060 nickels. These coins have a mint mark D on the reverse at the furthest pillar on the right.
Due to the high mintage, the nickels struck in Denver are very common, and you can easily find these coins in uncirculated condition at affordable prices.
Circulated 1954-D nickels are worth between $0.10 and $0.20; you definitely will not make a fortune with these coins, although they are worth slightly more than their face value.
Like the coins struck in Philadelphia, the 1954-D nickels are pocket-friendly, with one graded MS60 costing about $0.35. You will need about $50 for a nickel-graded MS65, while a gem-quality MS67 costs up to $500.
A 1954-D nickel-graded MS65 with all six full steps can fetch as much as $1,000, while an MS66 with five full steps can be worth up to $3,000.
One example graded MS66 with full steps fetched an eye-watering $9,694 at a Legend Rare Coin Auctions sale in 2020, making it the most expensive 1954-D nickel to date.
1954-S Nickel Value
Of all the three mints, the one in San Francisco had the lowest mintage of 29,384,000 coins. This was the last year the mint struck Jefferson nickels, so these coins were widely hoarded, making mint pieces quite easy to come across.
These coins have a mint mark S on the reverse at the furthest right pillar. The 1954-S nickels are relatively common, but finding examples with Full Steps can be extremely difficult.
According to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), only about 25 Full Steps examples have been certified. These were probably some of the earliest coins struck at the facility.
The 1954-S Jefferson nickels generally display a weak strike, even in higher grades. Circulated examples are worth between $0.10 and $0.20, while those in the mint state vary in price from $0.35 for examples graded MS60 to $400 for pieces designated MS67.
As mentioned, the 1954-S nickels are almost impossible to find in the Six-Full Steps designation. Existing examples mostly show five full steps, which are rare, with MS66 pieces bringing as much as $22,500.
In 2020, Legend Rare Coins Auction sold a 1954-S nickel graded MS67 with full steps at a whopping $35,250.
1954 Proof Nickel Value
In addition to the regular strike of 1954 nickels, the Philadelphia mint also struck proof coins. Proof nickels have a superior luster and pronounced details struck on a smooth, brilliant planchet.
About 233,300 proof nickels were struck in Philadelphia in 1954, one of the lower mintages in the Jefferson series. Many of these coins were hoarded upon release, so it is easy to find nice-looking examples from that year.
The PCGS has certified hundreds of examples graded PF68 and PF69, giving collectors a wide variety of these beautiful coins from which to select.
A 1954 proof nickel is worth about $1,550, but cameo and deep cameo will fetch significantly more. A cameo graded PF69 will fetch up to $2,220, while a deep cameo designated PF68 is worth as much as $7,475.
1954 Nickel Grading
As Jefferson nickels continue to gain popularity in numismatic circles, there is a widening gap between the low and high-grade coins.
It is best to focus on mint state, uncirculated nickels. When grading your uncirculated 1954 nickels, there are several elements to consider.
First, check for an original, full luster on the obverse and reverse of the coin. There should be no signs of dullness due to wear, especially on the high points.
On the obverse, pay attention to high points prone to wear, such as Jefferson’s hair, the area above his eye, and his shoulder and collar. These points should show mint frost with no break in the brilliant luster.
On the reverse, evaluate the high areas, such as the triangles on the Monticello roof. The columns and steps are other spots prone to wear; check for full luster on these areas to grade your nickel as uncirculated.
Check out this video for great tips on grading your 1954 nickel.
Rare 1954 Nickel Errors List
Overall, 1954 nickels are worth more or less their face value. But, some with notable errors in this series can be worth more.
Here are some common 1954 nickel errors worth money:
1954 Double Die Reverse Nickel Error
Doubled die errors are quite prominent among nickels struck in 1954.
This error occurs when the striking hub places a misaligned design on the die, which is transferred to the planchet. This results in a visible doubling of the design elements on the coin.
On the 1954 nickels, you can notice doubling mostly on the reverse on the Monticello steps and the lettering.
Some nickels show doubling on the obverse, primarily around Jefferson’s eyes but also on the lettering and inscriptions.
A 1954 nickel with a doubled-die error can fetch up to $50.
1954 Repunched Mint Mark Nickel Error
The repunched mint mark is one of this series’ most common and sought-after.
This error, also known as an S over D, occurred when a mint worker accidentally punched the mark D on a die meant for the coins made in San Francisco. An S mint mark was repunched over the D when the error was noticed.
If you check some 1954-S nickels closely, you will see the mark D underneath the S. These coins can be obtained for about $20, although one specimen graded MS66 was sold for $3,450 in 2008 at a Heritage Auctions sale.
1954 Off-Center Mint Mark Nickel Error
Off-center errors occur when the die punches the design elements away from the coin’s center. The value of such an error depends on the off-center percentage, with percentages greater than 50% fetching more.
In 1954 nickels, the off-center error is noticeable on the obverse, where Jefferson’s portrait is struck about 50% away from the coin’s center. Such an example is worth as much as $100 or more, depending on the coin’s condition.
Also read: 14 Most Valuable Nickel Errors Worth Money
How much is a 1954 nickel worth now?
A 1954 Jefferson nickel is worth more or less its face value. You can expect about $0.10- $.0.20 for a circulated nickel in this series. In lower mint state grades, this coin is still very affordable, and depending on the mint mark, a 1954 nickel in mint state can get you at least $400.
Are 1954 nickels rare?
No. 1954 nickels are not rare; close to 200 million of these coins were struck that year, making them readily available across all grades. That said, the 1954-S nickels with the Full Steps designation are extremely rare; many of the coins made at the San Francisco facility have a weak strike, making 1954-S Full Steps nickels the rarest in the entire Jefferson nickels series.
What is special about a 1954 nickel?
The 1954 nickel is a pretty common coin; nothing is outstanding about it, but it is still a nice issue to add to your Jefferson collection. What stands out is that the 1954-S nickel was the last issue from the San Francisco mint, which took a 10-year hiatus before resuming operations.