So far in this series we’ve covered mint marks and pennies. Rare nickels are a bit harder to identify than pennies, but can be well worth the effort.
Older nickels will be easy to identify. They won’t have Jefferson’s face on them. They’re called Buffalo or Indian Head Nickels because those are the pictures on them. If you’ve got one, you’ve made a nice find. They are worth far more than face value, ranging from $2 to hundreds of thousands. I would reference the About guide before you traded it in (I’ve found them to be pretty accurate.)
So that’s easy. If you have a Native American or buffalo on your nickel set it aside. But what do you look for with Jefferson nickels (which it’s more likely you have?)
World War II Coins
During World War II, nickels were made with a silver alloy. They’re actually 35% silver. Most of them are worth a little less than $2 (which is still a huge improvement from 5 cents,) but if you have one from 1943 with a Philadelphia mint mark, check the side with Monticello. If the back is blurry or looks like it’s been printed on twice, you have a double die, and that nickel is now worth around $30. The years on these are 1942 through 1945. (Though 1942 with a Denver mint mark isn’t made with the silver alloy, it’s still worth around $.75.)
Repunched Mint Marks
There were a few years where the mints made mistakes. One mint mark was printed over another, for example, in 1949 there are some nickels with a Denver mint mark (“D”) printed overtop the “S” mint mark. Circulated, this is worth around $20. The same thing happened again in 1955, only those are only worth $5. In 1954, they printed the S over the D, and that one’s also worth around $5.
Other Nickels Worth More than Five Cents
1938 D mint mark- $.70
1938 S mint mark- $.60
1939 D mint mark- $2.70
1939 S mint mark- $.70
1950 D mint mark- $4.00
(Prices pulled from the About guide mentioned above.)
Not Losing Your Mind While Rolling
While you’re rolling your coins, just keep your eye out for a few key years. Set aside anything that has a buffalo/Native American on it, 1938-9, 1942-45, 1949, 1950, and 1954-5. Then when you’re done examine them to see if they’re one of the rarities.
New to rolling your own change? Learn how to get started here.
What are Mint Marks?
Make Money Rolling Coins: Pennies Edition
Make Money Rolling Coins: Dimes Edition
Make Money Rolling Coins: Quarters Edition
I wish I’d known these things when I was a kid. We used to collect all the change we had in a jar in the kitchen and when it was full, I was allowed to have it, I just had to roll all the change. It usually like 20 bucks, which was a jackpot to an 8 year old. I totally would’ve checked the year on every one of them back then.
We did it when we were kids, too! My sibling actually had a rolling machine back in those days. But I never thought to look. I bet there were some I had back then that would be worth a ton now. Retrospect.
Rolling money is easy to do but creating plans for money to roll is what makes quite challenging. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Really love reading your post.
I love this series! I am learning so much, and I’m never going to look at spare change the same again 🙂