Nickel Coin Value Checker

Nickel Coin Varieties

Shield Nickel


Liberty Nickel


Buffalo Nickel


Jefferson Nickel


Nickel Coin Value By Year

While many nickels seem common, some dates are surprising keys. Explore the most valuable Buffalo and Jefferson nickel issues by year in this guide. From low-mintage semi-keys to prized rarities, certain dates and varieties are coveted by collectors. Mintmarks, condition, and striking quality all impact a nickel’s worth. See which 5-cent pieces from the 20th century can fetch premium prices at auction.


Most Valuable Nickel Coins Lists

Nickels may seem like pocket change, but some rare dates and varieties are immensely valuable. This list ranks the most coveted and expensive U.S. 5-cent coins for collectors. From humble Buffalos and Jeffersons to multi-million dollar showpieces, explore the nickels that have sold for staggering sums at auction. See which mintages, errors, and condition rarities propelled these nickels into numismatic stardom and six-figure price tags.

Nickel Coin Value by Grading

Often overlooked, a nickel’s grade can mean the difference between a common pocket piece and a prized rarity. Grading evaluates a coin’s condition, from well-worn circulated examples to pristine uncirculated gems. For Buffalo and Jefferson nickels alike, superior grades unlock exponentially higher values for collectors. Explore how our grading guides traits like strike, luster, and surface preservation to determine a nickel’s all-important grade – and corresponding price tag.

Nickel Coin History

The nickel coin has been an important part of American currency since 1866. The first nickel, known as the Shield nickel, was minted from 1866 to 1883. It featured a design of a shield with rays and stars above it on the front. The back had a large numeral “5” surrounded by thirteen stars representing the original colonies. This first nickel was made of a copper-nickel alloy.

In 1883, the Liberty Head nickel, also called the V nickel, replaced the Shield nickel. It featured a left-facing image of Lady Liberty wearing a coronet on the front. The back had a large Roman numeral “V” surrounded by patterns of stars. This nickel’s composition was changed to be 75% copper and 25% nickel.

The Liberty Head design was replaced in 1913 by the famous Buffalo nickel. It depicted a Native American chief on one side and an American bison on the other. This iconic design by James Earle Fraser remained on the nickel until 1938. It was the first circulating coin to feature an animal and an American Indian. The Buffalo nickel was made from the same copper-nickel alloy as its predecessor.

In 1938, the Jefferson nickel made its debut, replacing the Buffalo. This nickel featured President Thomas Jefferson on one side and his home at Monticello on the reverse. Initially, there were complaints about the plain design, but it grew in popularity over time. Since its introduction, Jefferson’s portrait has remained on the nickel, though the reverse design has gone through periodic changes.

Today the US nickel continues to be an important currency denomination. Current nickels are made from 75% copper and 25% nickel like their predecessors. The ubiquitous nickel has now been used in commerce for over 150 years, adapting to changing designs and compositions while remaining an iconic American coin.

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