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Nickels: The valuable 5-cent coins that collectors love

The 5-cent coins, popularly known as Nickels, are in high demand by some collectors.

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monedas de 5 centavos valiosas

The 5-cent coins, popularly known as Nickels, are in high demand by some collectors who specialize in antique coins in the United States.

Some pieces, despite being very small in size and weight, can reach several million dollars in market value.

In this article we will review a little history of the Nickels, and which are the most valuable and sought after nickel pieces by collectors.

What is a Nickel?

A Nickel is a coin minted in the United States with a value of 5 cents. The word nickel is due to the alloy of copper and nickel, the materials that make up many of these ancient coins loved and demanded by numismatic collectors.

Within the North American numismatic denominations the 5 cents coin is very popular , and is present since the 18th century.

Among collectors the price of antique nickels can vary greatly. Some might sell them for a few dollars while others have been bought or auctioned for thousands of dollars.

Later in this article you will find the list of the most valuable nickels.

You will be surprised how a simple old 5-cent coin can cost thousands of times its original monetary value. But first let’s review a little bit of the history of the common American nickels.

History of the 5 cents

If you are interested in the history of collectible and high value 5-cent coins you can stay and read this section. However, if you only know which are the most valuable nickels then you can go straight to the list by clicking here.

Nickels have been issued since the 1790s, and back then they were known as half dime.

Specifically in 1792 coins of this denomination were minted, enabled by the Minting Law. The Law of Minting, or Ley de la moneda, created the monetary system and the dollar as the standard monetary unit.

A very interesting fact is that the US dollar came into being with the equivalent value of a Spanish silver dollar.

The first 5-cent coins issued in the United States had a weight of 1.20 g of pure silver. As I said before, they were known as half dime, because they had half the value of a 10 cent coin. These specimens are very scarce and difficult to find, and when they are found their conservation is quite precarious.

The Half Dime, equivalent to a Nickel, is very appreciated by collectors and has a high value among them. The first 5 cent coins, or as they are also known, Early Half Dimes , were not minted every year.

The Early Half Dimes have an allegorical bust of Liberty on one side and the Bald Eagle on the other. Both symbols are very important for the American culture.

Half Dime 1792
Half Dime 1792

The 5 cents have been changing their designs for ages. In this way, it is common to find nickels with diverse motifs, but always corresponding to a particular stage of American history.

The first major reform of the United States’ monetary system, which changed much of the era until then of American coins, came in 1866. In this year, the coins were changed from 5 cents of silver to those minted in non-noble metals, specifically a 25% nickel and 75% copper alloy.

The amount of copper in the 5 cents is what gives the coin its characteristic color.

Between 1866 and 1883 the famous Nickel Shield was minted and circulated.

Shield Nickels
Shield Nickels (Diseño de estrellas discontinuado en 1867)

Then, from 1883 to 1912 the 5 cents are known as Liberty Head Nickels or V-nickels. These models are known for presenting the value of the piece in Roman numerals.

Foto V Nickel
Foto V Nickel

NOTE: Although the Liberty Head Nickels were officially issued until 1912, there are 5 copies dated 1913. Two of these pieces are on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and at the ANA Museum of Money.

These pieces are very rare and valuable, in 2010 one of them was sold for almost 4 and a half million dollars. This piece becomes the most valuable Nickel in history.

Buffalo Nickel
Buffalo Nickel

From 1913 it is issued in famous Buffalo nickel which is one of the most known and beautiful models. The Buffalo Nickel was produced until 1938, when it was replaced by the Jefferson Nickel.

Jefferson Nickel
Jefferson Nickel

The Jefferson Nickels are quite common for initiation into numismatic collecting, especially by those who specialize in U.S. 5-cent coins.

Most sought-after 5-cent coins by collectors

We will now review the list of the most valuable 5 dollar coins in the world. These pieces are in great demand and some coin collectors are willing to pay fortunes for them.

Early Half Dimes

The most expensive Nickels are the Early Half Dimes, not to mention the very rare and unique pieces.

The most valuable Early Half Dimes are divided into two large groups:

  • The 5-cent coins minted between 1792 and 1805
  • The 5-cent coins minted between 1829 and 1837

Between 1805 and 1829 no 5-cent coins were minted in the United States. I’m telling you, if you know someone who offers you a Nickel dated between both years, it’s most likely a very crude forgery.

The Early Half Dimes in the first group (1792 to 1805) can cost between 12 and 20 thousand dollars, depending on the level of conservation according to the Sheldon scale. The pieces in the second group are cheaper, and you can find them for prices ranging from 400 to 800 dollars.

Seated Liberty Half Dime

The Seated Liberty Half Dime can vary greatly in value according to the level of conservation and the place and year of issue. Normally these coins were minted between 1837 and 1873 and were produced in Philadelphia (no mint mark), New Orleans (marked with “O”) or San Francisco (marked with “S”).

These 5-cent coins range from $200 to $700 on average.

There are exceptional pieces that can reach exorbitant values, but they are the least. In fact, I’ll tell you which are those very valuable and rare Nickels.

5 centavos de 1846

5 centavos de 1846.
Seated Liberty valorada en  $ 18,000 

5 centavos de 1853-O

5 centavos de 1853-O (sin flechas).
Seated Liberty valorada en  $ 11,000 

5 centavos de 1844-O

5 centavos de 1844-O.
Seated Liberty valorada en  $ 7,500 

Shield Nickels

Valuable Nickel Shield coins were minted between 1866 and 1883 and as a curiosity were only produced in Philadelphia. The 5 cents of Escudo that have a state of conservation MS60 can cost between 150 and 400 dollars in auction houses or buying them from coin sellers.

5 centavos de 1880 Estados Unidos

5 centavos de 1880.
Shield Nickels valorada en  $ 14,500 

5 centavos de 1879 Estados Unidos

5 centavos de 1879.
Shield Nickels valorada en  $ 2,100 

5 centavos de 1883 2 Estados Unidos

5 centavos de 1883/2
Shield Nickels valorada en  $ 1,900 (*) 

5 centavos de 1881 Estados Unidos

5 centavos de 1881. 
Shield Nickels valorada en  $ 1,200 

(*) Some coins dated 1883 were minted with stamps from the previous year, and we can see the ‘2’ engraved under the date. An uncirculated coin with this correction can reach a value of $2,281 according to the USA Coin Book.

Liberty Head Nickels

The Liberty Head Nickels are closer in time, and were coined for many years. This to some extent conditions that they are the most affordable 5-cent pieces for collectors. You can buy well preserved specimens for $100 and up to $300.

There are two issues in particular that are the most sought after and best paid. These are the 5 cents coins minted on the dates:

5 centavos de 1885

5 centavos de 1885.
Liberty Head Nickels valorada en  $ 2,600 

5 centavos de 1886

5 centavos de 1886.
Liberty Head Nickels valorada en  $ 1,600 

As I told you before, these 5 cents designs were used until 1912, although there are very rare and valuable copies of Liberty Head Nickels from 1913.

Buffalo Nickels

From 2013 until 1938 the famous Buffalo Nickels are coined. These 5-cent coins had a buffalo on one side and a bust image of a Native American. For this reason these ancient coins are also known as the Indian Head Nickel, although this term is less used.

A curious fact about these coins is that for a while, after the crash of 1929, many people modified the coins taking advantage of the malleability of the metals. Although the tradition of modifying coins is very old, it was the Hobo Nickels (hobo nickels) that marked the golden age of the art of coin transformation.

Returning to the Buffalo Nickels, these coins have little economic value compared to other collectible numismatic specimens.

The series that stand out the most are:

5 centavos de 1924-S

5 centavos de 1924-S.
Buffalo Nickels valorada en  $ 2,500 

5 centavos de 1926-S

5 centavos de 1926-S.
Buffalo Nickels valorada en  $ 5,100 

5 centavos de 1918-S.

5 centavos de 1918-S.
Buffalo Nickels valorada en  $ 900 

Jefferson Nickels

Now we come to the most modern 5 cents, the Jefferson Nickels. This model is very affordable since there are millions of them in circulation as well as those in PROOF status, therefore, collectors do not pay much attention to them.

The most demanded Jefferson Nickels nickels are:

5 centavos de 1944-D

5 centavos de 1944-D.
Jefferson Nickels valorada en  $ 1,100 

5 centavos de 1967

5 centavos de 1967.
Jefferson Nickels valorada en  $ 2,975 

5 centavos de 1989-P

5 centavos de 1989-P.
Jefferson Nickels valorada en  $ 80  

However, I would like to highlight the case of the old Jefferson Nickels 1964 “specimen” coin. The specimen pieces minted in 1964 were produced for the National Numismatic Collection but because of some issues that would be too long to explain here, they ended up in the private coin collector market.

The difference between the 1964 valuable 5 cent coins, known as specimens, and the rest of the coins is that they have a satin finish that is not usual in this denomination.

Jefferson Nickels 1964
Jefferson Nickels 1964

A specimen can reach the value of $ 5800, provided that it is in optimum condition MS68.

Most wanted nickel list

If you have read the article carefully you will already have an idea of which are the most sought after and best valued 5 cents coins by collectors.

However, I like to make it easy so I have created this table so you can see the most wanted Nickel pieces at a glance.

  MS60 MS62 MS64 MS66 MS68
5 cents 1879 “Shield” $ 2,100.00 $ 2,150.00 $ 3,400.00 $ 5,200.00
5 cents 1880 “Shield” $ 14,500.00 $ 18,200.00 $ 34,500.00
5 cents 1881 “Shield” $ 1,250.00 $ 1,300.00 $ 2,000.00 $ 3,400.00
5 cents 1883/2 “Shield” $ 1,900.00 $ 2,100.00 $ 3,700.00 $ 10,000.00
5 cents 1885 “Liberty Head” $ 2,600.00 $ 2,975.00 $ 4,450.00 $ 9,450.00
5 cents 1886 “Liberty Head” $ 1,280.00 $ 1,580.00 $ 2,800.00 $ 18,500.00
5 cents 1918S “Buffalo” $ 875.00 $ 1,380.00 $ 4,000.00 $ 55,000.00
5 cents 1924S “Buffalo” $ 2,450.00 $ 3,750.00 $ 6,250.00 $ 41,000.00
5 cents 1927S “Buffalo” $ 635.00 $ 1,440.00 $ 2,775.00 $ 78,500.00
5 cents 1936D “Buffalo” $ 35.00 $ 39.00 $ 55.00 $ 145.00 $ 3,7500.00
5 cents 1937S “Buffalo” $ 28.00 $ 33.00 $ 40.00 $ 105.00 $ 16,300.00
5 cents 1944D “Jefferson” $ 5.50 $ 7.00 $ 15.25 $ 40.00 $ 1,100.00
5 cents 1967 “Jefferson” $ 0.20 $ 0.30 $ 2.40 $ 37.50 $ 2,975.00
5 cents 1989P “Jefferson” $ 0.25 $ 0.30 $ 2.00 $ 15.00 $ 80.00

Fuente: www.coleccionistasdemonedas.comCollect valuable 5-cent coins

Collect valuable 5-cent coins

I have tried to gather the most important information about collectible Nickel coins, but I can assure you that there is still a lot to learn about this subject.

I invite you to share this text in your social networks, or send it to a friend interested in collecting old coins. You will surely find this text very interesting and will thank you for it.

Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of Startup.info. He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at Startup.info.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. May Porquez

    08/18/2023 at 5:06 PM

    I have a 5 cents coin 2014 I want it to sell. I’m from the Philippines.

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