U.S. Nickel Value Guides

US nickel type coins
Heritage Auction Galleries

The U.S. nickel values and price tables listed below have coin values and prices based on how much you can realistically expect a dealer to pay you for your nickels if you want to sell them today. Therefore, when you determine the value of your nickels (or any other coins), remember the difference between price and value. Also, the value can go up and down based on the year, if it's been circulated or if it's in mint condition, mint marks, and special features (sometimes defects) from that minting.

 Nickel Type  Years  Value
 Later Jefferson  1965 to present Face value to $120
 Early Jefferson  1938 to 1964 Face value to $300
 Buffalo (Indian head)  1913 to 1938 Face value to $125,000
 Liberty head or V  1900 to 1913  $2.50 to $3,400
 Shield  1866 to 1883  $16 to $9,900

There is nothing worse than counting on your collection being worth a certain amount of money and then getting a rude awakening when you sell it, all because you consulted the wrong type of coin value guide when you made your appraisal.

Jefferson Nickels

Jefferson nickel's values are so low that I feel they represent an excellent investment opportunity in the highest grades. Additionally, Jefferson nickels are one of the best coin types for new collectors because you can just about complete the entire Jefferson Nickel series right from circulating coinage! However, this beginner's collection is fun to assemble but will not make a significant investment.

The only ones you won't usually find in pocket change are the silver wartime issues from 1942 to 1945. If you're looking for investment-quality coins, consider purchasing high-grade coins encapsulated by third-party certification companies. If you know a young person who might enjoy coin collecting, why not learn how to start a coin collection on $4.

Buffalo Nickels

On the other hand, Buffalo nickels are very popular, but I still feel they are somewhat undervalued. Buffalo nickel values are disproportionate to the mintage figures in many ways; in other words, just because fewer Buffalo nickels were made one year doesn't necessarily mean that year's nickels are more valuable. I feel that low-end Buffaloes are valued too high, but on the other hand, I think that the highest-grade Buffaloes are a good investment. Unless you are an expert grader, make sure you purchase nickels that have already been encapsulated and graded by third-party certification companies.

Liberty Head or V Nickels

Liberty Head or V-Nickel values are slightly more in line with what you would expect for coins of that period, but expert numismatists believe they are undervalued. They also think that there are a lot of errors and die varieties still to be found in this series since other coin types from this period exhibit many exciting varieties.

The most expensive nickel ever sold was a liberty head nickel. There is also great mystery and deception surrounding this most valuable nickel. Couple this with the history of this coin series, and you have everything that makes collecting these nickels worthwhile.

For some reason, I have always been a big fan of the reverse design on V-nickels. I don't know if it's because I like the directness of the big V, or I am drawn to the general art style of the reverse. Regardless, V-nickels are my favorite nickel.

Shield Nickels

The Shield nickel is an exciting type, having no portrait and a big "5" surrounded by stars on the reverse. However, most coins start at at least $20 for very worn-out (G-4) specimens, so they are too expensive for most beginning coin collectors. But, you may want to purchase a type coin for your collection. This classic, unique design will certainly enhance any type collection of United States coins.

However, intermediate and advanced collectors may find this United States coin series challenging and interesting. The United States Mint produced all Shield nickels at the Philadelphia facility. Therefore, a date set would only consist of 16 coins. In addition, it would cost approximately $2,000 to assemble a complete set of circulated coins in the average circulated condition. Therefore, finding the 1883 "2 over 3" variety may be challenging but doable.

The Top 10 Most Valuable Nickels of All Time

Nickels were first minted in the United States in 1866. At that time, most coins were made out of silver or gold. The United States made lower denomination coins out of pure copper. Although the nickel is silver in color, it has no silver in it. As a result, nickels lack the glitter of silver and gold and are not popular amongst coin collectors. However, there are some very expensive nickels that every coin collector would love to own. Here are the top 10 most valuable nickels:

  1. 1913 Liberty Nickel - The Olsen Specimen: $3,737,500
  2. 1918/7-D Buffalo Nickel - Doubled Die Obverse: $350,750
  3. 1926-S Buffalo Nickel: $322,000
  4. 1916 Buffalo Nickel - Doubled Die Obverse: $281,750
  5. 1913-D Buffalo Nickel - Type 2: $143,750
  6. 1917-S Buffalo Nickel: $138,000
  7. 1920-D Buffalo Nickel: $138,000
  8. 1867 Shield Nickel - Proof with Rays: $132,250
  9. 1918-S Buffalo Nickel: $125,350
  10. 1927-S Buffalo Nickel: $125,350