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Which Nickels Are Silver?

While some coin series have many factors that make it difficult to determine the precious metal content, it is easy to identify silver nickels by knowing a few key markers to look for.

Silver Nickels

One of the more unusual silver coins was the Jefferson Nickel of 1942 to 1945. Jefferson Nickels were first minted in 1938 and made of 75% copper and 25% nickel. However, in 1942, with World War II raging in Europe and the Pacific, Nickel became a critical war material. So the U.S. government changed the composition of the coin to 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. This blend allowed the U.S. to reserve precious nickel and copper needed in military applications for the hardening of steel for guns, tanks, planes, and battleships.

Silver War Nickels

The term Silver War Nickels refers to those produced by the United States Mint from mid-1942 to 1945, and these coins have valuable silver content available to collectors and investors.

It is easy to determine what year nickels are silver by looking for a few simple markers. Previously the absence of any mint mark indicated the coin was struck in Philadelphia. If you look at the reverse of a silver nickel there will be a large “P,” “D,” or “S” visible above Monticello, Jefferson’s home. Coins without these large Mint marks are not Silver War Nickels.

Many War Nickels are purchased as bullion-type coins due to their composition of 35% silver. In 1946, the prior production composition, excluding all silver, was reinstated.

Silver Nickel Value

For collectors and investors, these Silver War Nickels represent an easy way to collect valuable silver that also has fascinating historical significance at an extremely low premium. While it is essential for an informed buyer to know what year nickels contain silver, it is liberating to know APMEX has every buyer covered. We offer a wide range of 35% Silver War Nickels.

There is an abundance of valuable nickels throughout history. From older to newer coins, you will find a plethora of nickels from the year of your choosing.

Silver Nickel Years

Determining if a given nickel is a Silver War Nickel is simple and takes just a moment. You will be looking for:

  • The mintage year. If the nickel in question was minted in 1942, 1943, 1944, or 1945, you likely have a coin with silver nickel value.
  • Slightly different coloration. While you still should know what year nickels are silver, the lustrous appearance of the nickels will help confirm their content.
  • The mint mark. Silver War Nickels bear mint marks of “S”, “D,” or “P” above the dome of Monticello on the reverse. The idea of these large marks was to clearly denote the silver nickel years, making the coins easier to pull from circulation after the war.

If you have a 1942-P Nickel, you have a Silver War Nickel. It is from the silver nickel years, it has a large “P” mint mark, and you will see its slightly different color and luster.

Those seeking to start an affordable nickel collection may want to consider starting with non-silver nickels. Most Jefferson Nickels, including the 1964-D coin, don’t contain any silver, and have high mintages. These factors allow this coin and many others in the series to be exceptionally affordable and a great way to start a new coin collecting journey.

It is important to note, however, that these nickels do not have the same spot silver price per ounce.

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