Rare Nickels: What Are They

Jul 23 Zachary  

Most often than not, you need a magnifying glass to identify rare nickels. A close-up view allows for judging conditions, finding mint marks and identifying rare varieties.

The nickel series

You may find something of value when you take a second close look at nickels. A “D” or “S” mintmark on the reverse of the coin implies that it is a sought after collectible. The value of 1938 and 1939 nickels are starting to increase. Nickels produced from 1942 to 1945 contain a small valuable amount of silver. Check if there is a large “P,” “D,” or “S,” above the dome of Monticello.

The Three-Legged Buffalo nickel is a very popular rare nickel. It has a recognizable and different appearance from other Buffalo nickels. A missing leg was due to the cleaning of one of the dies used to strike the coins. The mint polished away the front leg. A Three-Legged Buffalo nickel in good condition has a value of over $233.

There are several nickel series popular to numismatists.

Shield nickels

Being the first of the denomination, they are not only important but are also premium coins. There were large mintages in 1866 but there was soon a decline. The years 1879-1881 are very scarce.

Liberty nickels

Minted during 1883 to 1912, there are scarce and valuable rare nickels in this series.

Buffalo Coin Value

Buffalo nickels

These are one of the most popular nickels collected by numismatists. The Buffalo nickel value depends on its condition. Even those without dates are worth 10 cents each.

Jefferson nickels

The current nickel of US coinage, its first mint was in 1938. The silver nickels in the series make this a notable collection.

Condition rarity nickels

The rarity of nickels is all about its condition. Nickels with the best condition is what collectors include in their collections. Coins with better condition have higher value. Grading a coin or determining its condition involves a rigorous system. There are plenty of grade categories. Examples are crisp no wear uncirculated and almost worn smooth in good condition. Subtle differences affect the grade of a coin. As the condition improves, old nickels become more collectible. There are two dates in the Buffalo nickel series that belong to the condition rarities. The uncirculated 1921-S and 1926-S are worth from over $1,000 to more than $3,000. Another great rarity is the 1937-D Three-Legged Buffalo. An uncirculated grade of this coin is also worth over $1,000.

Identifying the date on a coin is the first step in determining its value. Checking for the presence of a mintmark is the next crucial step. Judging its condition is the most difficult and a very important part. The last step is confirming possible varieties of the coin.

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