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Jefferson Nickels – Key Dates and Varieties

The Jefferson Nickel replaced the iconic Buffalo Nickel series that was struck from 1913 until 1938. In 1938, artist Felix Schlag won a competition to design a coin to replace the Buffalo Nickel, which was very hard to strike and broke many dies. The Jefferson Nickel series has no rare dates, but there are some scarce over-dates and doubled strikes that are valuable. Additionally, there were ‘War Nickels’ struck during World War II that are 35% Silver, due to the need for nickel during the conflict. 

The coin was slightly redesigned in 1966 when Schlag’s initials were added to the obverse under Jefferson’s bust. Other details were also strengthened, and in 1968, the mintmark was moved from the reverse of the coin to the obverse.  

To learn more about the origin of this coin series, read our comprehensive article about the history of the Jefferson Nickel.

Scarce Early Varieties and Dates 

Between 1938 and 1942, there were only 3 scarce varieties that were struck: 

1939 Doubled Monticello

All Jefferson Nickels struck between 1938 and 2003 have a depiction of Jefferson’s home, Monticello, on the reverse of the coin. In 1939, due to a die error, the name, “MONTICELLO,” and the words “FIVE CENTS,” were doubled on some coins. This is the first variety that you will encounter, but there were more than 120 million struck for the date.

1939 Jefferson Nickel – Doubled Monticello

1939-D Jefferson Nickel

With only 3,514,000 coins, this is the second lowest mintage Jefferson Nickel struck for circulation. It is relatively valuable in all grades from Very Fine ($10.00) through Choice Uncirculated ($75.00). 

1942-D Over Horizontal D

When the “D” Mintmark was added to the die, it was placed horizontally instead of vertically, resulting in this strange error. It is very valuable in all grades but usually you need at least a Very Fine specimen to see the mintmark underneath.  

1943-P 3/2 Jefferson Nickel

The 1943 3 Over 2 Silver War Nickel is the first of 3 scarce variety War Nickels. Traces of the “2” underneath the “3” as seen but this coin is particularly scarce in all grades. 

1943-P Doubled Eye Silver War Nickel

This is the second variety in the War Nickel Series and the second variety of the 1943-P dated coin. When magnified, the visible eye of Thomas Jefferson displays doubling. Less rare than the 1943-P 3/2 but scarce and valuable, nonetheless.

1945-P Doubled Die Reverse

The 1945 has both a Doubled Die Reverse where the doubling shows in the lettering and also a Tripled Die Reverse where the doubling is most noticeable in the mintmark which displays as P/P/P under strong magnification.  

1949-D with D/S

This is another scarce variety where the “D” mintmark was struck over an underlying “S” mintmark, originally on the die that was used. The underlying “S” mintmark is higher and to the left of the “D” that was added.  

1950-D Jefferson Nickel

The 1950-D Jefferson Nickel is a scarce coin due to its low mintage rather than it being a unique variety or error. Only 2,530,030 coins of this date and mintmark were actually struck. 

In the 1950s and 1960s, the 1950-D Nickel was one of the most sought after coins in existence and it was worth considerably more than it is worth today.  

1954-S S/D

The 1954 S Over D mintmarked coin is the second last significant variety of Jefferson Nickel struck through 2003. 

1954-S/D Jefferson Nickel

1955-D D Over S Jefferson Nickel

This is another Jefferson over-mintmark variety. This is similar in value to the 1954-S S Over D and is easy to see under magnification.

After 2003, the reverse design was changed in 2004 to two separate designs – the Keelboat and the Peace Medal. This was to honor the Westward Journey of Lewis & Clark. In 2005, both the obverse and reverse were changed with the obverse receiving a more modern interpretation of Jefferson and the reverse receiving two designs – an American Bison and the Ocean in View.  

From 2006 to date, the obverse received an entirely new front-facing portrait of Jefferson by James Franki. For the reverse of the coin, the Mint returned to using Felix Schlag’s version of Monticello.

Interested collectors that haven’t begun their journey collecting Jefferson nickels should consider starting with a coin like the 1964-D BU. This variety is extremely affordable and is one of the most popular ways to get started.

Date M/M Mintage Very Fine Abt. Unc.  Ch. Unc 
1939 Dbl Mont Unknown $125 $300 $850 
1939-D 3,514,000 $3 $30 $60 
1942-D / Horz D Unknown $100 $500 $3,500 
1943-P 3 / 2 Unknown $90 $275 $500 
1943-P Dbl Eye Unknown $25 $90 $200 
1945-P DDR Unknown $15 $60 $325 
1949-D D/S Unknown $50 $150 $225 
1950-D 2,630,030 $3 $9 $15 
1954-S S / D Unknown $10 $25 $180 
1955-D D / S Unknown $10 $35 $85 
Common 1938-66 Unknown $.10 $.20 $1.00 
Common 1967-23 Unknown $.05 $.10 $.30 
Common War .05 Unknown $.70 $4.50 $8.25 

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