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10 Most Valuable Nickels & Rare Nickels Worth Money

Nickels might seem like small change compared to other coins, but some of them hold incredible value to collectors. From rare minting errors to historical designs, these 10 nickels are among the most valuable and sought-after in the world of coin collecting. Whether you’re a seasoned numismatist or just curious about the hidden treasures in your pocket change, read on to discover the stories behind these valuable nickels.

1. 1913 Liberty Head “V” Nickel

The 1913 Liberty Head “V” Nickel is one of the most famous and valuable coins in American history. With only five known to exist, this nickel is a true rarity. The coin features Lady Liberty on the obverse and a Roman numeral “V” on the reverse. In 2018, one of these nickels sold for a staggering $4.56 million at auction, making it one of the most expensive coins ever sold.

2. 1942-1945 Silver War Nickels

During World War II, nickel was a critical metal for the war effort. To conserve nickel for military use, the U.S. Mint produced “war nickels” from 1942 to 1945. These coins are distinguishable by the large mint mark above Monticello on the reverse. Composed of 35% silver, these nickels are valuable for both their metal content and historical significance.

3. 1879 Shield Nickel

The 1879 Shield Nickel is a rare gem among coin collectors. Featuring the iconic Shield design on the obverse and a large “5” surrounded by stars on the reverse, this nickel is highly sought after. Minted in low numbers, particularly at the Carson City Mint, the 1879 Shield Nickel can fetch impressive prices at auction.

4. 1916 Buffalo Nickel

The Buffalo Nickel, designed by James Earle Fraser, is a classic American coin with a rich history. The 1916 edition is particularly valuable, especially the “D” (Denver) and “S” (San Francisco) mint marks. Look for the distinct Native American profile on the obverse and the majestic buffalo on the reverse to identify this iconic coin.

5. 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo Nickel

A minting error turned this 1937-D Buffalo Nickel into a collector’s dream. Due to over-polishing of the die, the buffalo on the reverse lost one of its legs, creating the famous “3-Legged” variety. These nickels are highly sought after for their unusual appearance and can command impressive prices at auctions and coin shows.

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6. 1885 Liberty Head “V” Nickel

The 1885 Liberty Head “V” Nickel is a rare coin with a mysterious history. While no official records indicate that these nickels were minted, a few have surfaced over the years. Experts believe that these coins were likely struck as patterns or proofs. Today, the 1885 Liberty Head Nickel is a prized possession for any serious collector.

7. 1914/3 Buffalo Nickel

Another fascinating error in the Buffalo Nickel series is the 1914/3 overdate variety. This occurs when the die used to strike the coin mistakenly bears a date from the previous year, which is then corrected. Look for a clear “3” underneath the “4” in the date to identify this valuable nickel.

8. 1936-D Buffalo Nickel

The 1936-D Buffalo Nickel is notable for its low mintage and the presence of three and a half legs on the buffalo. Due to a die clash, a raised line appears on the buffalo’s foreleg, creating the illusion of an extra leg. This variety is highly sought after by collectors for its quirky appearance and scarcity.

9. 1916 Doubled Die Obverse Buffalo Nickel

Doubled die errors occur when the die used to strike the coin is engraved with a doubled image. The 1916 Doubled Die Obverse Buffalo Nickel exhibits this error prominently on the obverse, with Liberty’s profile and the date appearing doubled. These nickels are rare and prized by collectors for their distinctive look.

10. 1942/1-P Mercury Dime Overdate

Though technically a dime, the 1942/1-P Mercury Dime Overdate deserves mention for its rarity and value. This error occurred when the Mint accidentally used a die with the previous year’s date, then corrected it by punching the correct “2” over the existing “1.” These dimes are highly coveted by collectors of both dimes and nickels due to their unique history.

Nickels may seem ordinary, but these 10 coins prove that hidden treasures can lurk in the most unexpected places. Whether it’s a rare minting error, a low mintage, or a historical oddity, each of these nickels tells a story of American coinage and the thrill of numismatics. So, next time you come across a nickel in your pocket change, take a closer look—it might just be worth more than you think!

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